Imagine… you are standing in a black box.
The walls are charred, smoky and peeling.
There is no obvious door you can see.
High up on the wall there is a stamp of light. You long to escape but the black box holds you firmly in place because there is no ladder to reach the light!
Then you realize with an overwhelming sense of dread. The brittle, flaked, smoking walls are what remains of your own extinguished fire. Yhere is no air… there is no escape….You are trapped in this airless, burned-out box.
This black box is fear… and I was locked in it for years.
Fear kept me small. Self-doubts, negative voices, the inability to ask for what I wanted, compromises that shattered my trust in myself, and in others. A nagging feeling of not being good enough, not being worthy… not deserving of love.
Breaking free of fear has been my lifelong journey to discover the real me.
Through many misadventures, obsessive, drunken, drug filled sprees…years of bad choices, chaotic relationships, and angry self-sabotaging behaviors I learned how stop hiding, to get honest with myself, to stop being so afraid of what people would do to me and what they would think of me. To stop being so afraid of…ME!
I was on a journey to discover the woman who defiantly refused to answer the door to all the negative solicitations that kept knocking in her head, and who finally understood that her life was a gift not to be wasted on trash that someone else had thrown into her trash can.
The journey I took to learn who I wanted to be was like an Eticket to Disneyland…a series of wild rides that gave me a hunger for adventure and risk taking that was never quite satisfied.
At times I was reckless, stupid and careless with other people’s lives. Submerged in my own toxic waste. Stumbling blindly through the alleys of my despair searching for answers. The urgency of my life led me to take the tour through the magical lands of trust, vulnerability, faith and joy to banish fear and find the essence of the real me
Because being myself is the gift I give myself…Because claiming ownership of who I am, claiming every dynamic aspect of who I am…every broken part of who I am…. every bright and shining bit of who I am…is a profound thing … I had to take the journey of discovery…. or deny myself the opportunities that awaited my future self.
I was told that dreams were for other people, not for me. My mother lost her dreams a long time before I arrived…I have been a dreamer all my life …and always expected that life could be different… I was born with insatiable curiousity and I’ve kept my options open even when I don’t know where those options were leading me.
In my childhood dreams, I would be a writer… a singer…a traveler. I would explore the world…and leave Scotland to the Scots. I would have many mad adventures, meet all kinds of people, many of whom I would eventually fall in love with. My days would be spent in a wonderland of adventures just like Disneyland. The land of make-believe. Or as life would have it, living the dream until proven otherwise!
Ever had these dreams where you are flying? Where you just think about lifting yourself off the ground and suddenly you’re soaring over the rooftops? You are invincible?
As a child, I scrambled over rooftops, climbed into abandoned buildings. Made it my business to climb where it was forbidden.
Old churches with broken skylights were prime playground. Barbed wire something to be navigated…carefully hoping we didn’t put holes in our clothes or there would be hell to pay. A toy store closed down and toys were left inside. We broke the lock and helped ourselves…until the police arrived and took it all back.
In my mind, I was a superhero and I could slay the dragons.
But the enemy of the mind is a powerful force when you let it have power over you. It diminishes your sense of self, and it creates a belief system that is profoundly untrue.
This superhero didn’t have a cape. At school she was bullied and refused to fight back. At home she was beaten and told to keep her mouth shut. Shame stuck like glue to an already overactive imagination. There were no magic powers that could disable, defend or kill her enemies. There was no magical force that could eliminate the challengers with a thunderbolt of fire.
It took decades before I could become my own true superhero and proclaim ….THIS… IS… ME!
Jacqueline Wales is a keynote speaker, executive coach and facilitator. She is the author of When The Crow Sings, a family saga, The Fearless Factor and The Fearless Factor @ Work. She has lived and worked on three continents and considers herself a global nomad.
Be Fearless: See Where It Gets You!