Fear of Success

Yesterday I mentioned how the many friendships I have made in different Instagram communities helps and serves me. Last night is one example of how powerful a random moment/conversation there can be in my life. One of the people with whom I share similar trials and processes of getting through those trials, a lovely lady that goes by the name of @girlintherapy, posted last week about giving yourself a break. I post about that topic every so often, too, and I always find it interesting and inspiring to read posts on topics that I think about often because I always find so many different perspectives of those topics in other people’s thoughts and ideas. This was one of those times.

You are doing the best you can.

This week I felt lost and yesterday it was mostly apathy and disinterest. I was concerned – is this my depression acting up?

Being encouraged by my Etsy shop, I’m trying to start a label selling quote magnets as a small local business. It has not gone on that well. A lot of the time I’ve been crippled by fear of failure and the pointlessness of it all.  I’ve got to give myself a pat on the back, though, because I managed to meet a buyer of a local chain in January, though he has been slow on follow up – which also contributes to my paralyzing fear and sense of worthlessness.

Today as I rushed to the CoDA meeting, a thought flashed across my mind. You are doing the best you can.

This is definitely not from me, because it’s not my first instinct to reassure myself. I figured this was Higher Power stuff… I think my Higher Power speaks to me in quotes. I read so many on IG daily, and I store them here:  it’s like I have my personal blog of quotes. So, my HP pulled one out to comfort me.

I’ve not accepted it yet, though; I always am the hardest on myself, and think my best is never good enough. Nonetheless, the message I got was:  this is the best I can manage for now. I am doing the best I can.


I saw this and commented on it almost immediately. That was five days ago. My comment was raw and laced with sarcasm, whether anyone else could tell it, and after I left it I pretty much forgot about it all – except the reverberation of those words, “You are doing the best that you can,” following me around for the last five days. In some ways I have tried to shut them out because of my frustration and anger at how Celiac disease sort of enables my panic and anxiety about certain things. That whole situation has gotten nothing but worse.

One of the things that I have always struggled with regarding my anxiety about going places and being around groups of people (especially strangers) is a fear of passing out or having some other unpleasant bodily failure or function that causes me or the people I’m with embarrassment, or having that happen and having no one there who is willing to help me. Part of that fear is based in an experience I had with passing out and having my husband get angry at me, and belittle me, and tell me all the ways it was my fault because that’s what he was always good at. Since that day, about sixteen years ago, I have had a very hard place in my heart for him regarding that, and a lot of self-doubt about the issue in general. I’ve never gotten over that. And, far too many times I’ve watched people who see a thing like that happen just pass by, staring but not offering to do anything useful to help the person in need. I’ve most recently had that experience with my mother.

With Celiac, especially lately, with my extreme diet change and my body’s slow progress in accepting it, I feel faint CONSTANTLY. At this point, it’s not even in my head, or “just anxiety.” My anxiety with social situations has always been intertwined with my fear of nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea – things EVERYBODY, even normal people, would prefer to deal with at home and in private. They’re just gross experiences. These are experiences that I face now in a very physical way, constantly throughout the day.

Especially not being able to eat heavy or starchy foods (candida is also a part of my gut issue), I can’t eat ENOUGH of the fruits/veg/nuts/beans/juices to make up a suitable caloric intake because I can only eat so much before the pain begins. This is WITHOUT gluten or high fructose corn syrup or sugary foods that effect my gut because of the candida/ celiac. Even the foods I CAN eat have been causing me major stomach upset for the last couple of weeks. Mostly, it’s the pain. The pain, and the burping, the nausea, the vomiting, and the faintness. These things are physically happening to me on a minute to minute basis, and they are huge triggers for my anxiety and my panic. The truth is that it is even making me extremely anxious just to type these things and to share them publicly here, from the “comfort” of my breakfast nook.

As I said above, I commented on my friend’s post with a very heartfelt but sarcasm laced reply. My initial reply was, “I am. I really am doing the best I can. It may not seem like it to other people and it may be something they are inconvenienced by but it’s all I can do. They’ll get over it or they won’t. I don’t really care what they do at this point – I am just happy to get through the days without falling apart or throwing up (because of a chronic digestive problem I have). If I can manage those two things I happily call the day a success.

I understand the fear of failure thing, except for me it’s the fear of success. As soon as my photography or my blog or whatever else I am doing start being “successful,” which they almost always do (to the point of what I consider success – reaching people, starting conversations, creating connections) – I end up changing the name/link and starting over. I despeartely want to share, but I desperately DO NOT want to be noticed. I know that makes NO SENSE. Nonetheless, different things but the same in how crippling they can be.

Sending you my love and support. I believe that whatever you want to do, you can do. And whatever you DO do, one way or the other, I support you because either way you make my world a better place just by being in it and sharing both your failures and your successes. You help so many of us feel not alone in our struggles, and that matters. So happy to have connected with you here. Your posts encourage and support me so much.”

Again, I left the comment and I basically left it all at that. I did not spend very much time thinking about my response or her original words, except that the, “you are doing the best that you can,” have echoed throughout my mind and throughout my days ever since (five days and counting). Then, last night, she responded to my comment and said something that hit me with such a reality and such an accuracy that I was stunned. I was just stunned. I was not at all hurt by it, by the reality that it slapped me with, which is different. And, I was immediately and wholly aware of the truth of what she said, and of where it originated from, and of when and where it had been re-triggered. The short of it is in one word:  rejection.

She said, “Thank you so much for your kind words about my posts. I’m also blessed to have met you – someone who lives fiercely from the heart. Someone whom I know will tell it like it is. Yes you are doing your best – you don’t have to fall apart for others. Your fear of success does remind me of a lack of self-confidence or self-love, because you may not think you are deserving of success or attention? And maybe you were programmed to think that any attention is bad? Just sharing my thoughts…”

Well, there it was. There it IS. In a short comment from a near stranger, my walls have become transparent. Point number one here for me is that souls that are meant to be a part of your tribe truly will show up and see you, regardless of whatever you try to put on as a mask. Point number two is that that is exactly the experience that found me retrogressing back into the precise lack of self-confidence and self-love that my friend is speaking about here. It was so clear to me the instant I read the response. It shook me up but it wasn’t as painful as it had been in the recent past to acknowledge the reality of it.

I was quick to respond with, “you are just about spot on.” The reality is that I was definitely brought up to believe that I should sit down and shut up, but I always bucked that system. Stubborn and filled with a belief that I mattered and my voice mattered, I fought it. I have spent the majority of my life fighting to be heard. Then, I got to a point in my life where I decided it didn’t really matter if I was heard – I just needed to be myself. It didn’t mean that I became quiet – it meant that I started using my voice in a different way. In stepping into that and owning that, and living as I felt my heart was happiest and most fulfilled, I found myself in the most tumultuous emotional experience of my life.

I continued with my comment, “It only started again (the fear of failure/success thing) when I allowed myself, for the first time in my life, to actually BELIEVE the negative and hateful things a single, fleeting person in my life told me. “Funny” what we do when we love someone else more than we love ourselves; what we will allow, what we will endure, what we will find ourselves believing… And then, we blame ourselves and become filled with self doubt and fear. Well, maybe not “we,” but that’s what I did. I took on the same cycles of thought and self lies that I was hearing around me, and I know now how foolish that was because it was all so negative. So, yes. Spot on, dear. I lost myself – and I don’t know who I became during that time but I really thought it was who and what I was meant to be. Clearly, I was wrong. I have no problem admitting that. I haven’t quite found me again, yet.”

I followed that comment up with, “I’ve only just realized, from your comment, that I am still carrying that (my above comment). It’s interesting to me how it was so crystal clear to me – almost instantly I knew the source. That’s got to mean something progressive and good, right?”

And, later in the night,while I struggled to sleep and refought mental battles I knew I would never win with the ghosts of my past, while I tried to make amends with myself that yes, I DID do the best that I could even if I had messed up in some ways, that I had played my part but that I had always felt that I was following my heart and my passion and my belief and faith that some things mean more than we can see on the surface…well, I was wrong. Sometimes, they don’t. Sometimes, they just mean that people are who and what they are, and what happens to us is what we allow and nothing more. It doesn’t mean ANYTHING except that what’s happened has happened, it’s not anyone’s fault, and it’s over now… While I allowed myself to more fully accept this – which I thought I already had but clearly had not – my friend left another reply to me, which said, “awareness/consciousness is a gift.

Awareness and consciousness are a gift and it is my belief that we are only “able” to see/hear things when we are ready. Prior that we should be in voluntary or involuntary denial. So I guess you being able to identify who and what, that’s you being ready, being armed with the gift of awareness/consciousness.”

Yes. YES I AM. Because THAT is who I was before, and throughout, the most soul-stripping, heart-wrenching experience of my life. It’s who I still am. I never lost myself – I just locked myself away. Once you know yourself, you can’t lose that. Even if/when you change, the core of who you are and of what drives you deep in your soul stays the same – that’s what you were born for. I was born to love. To overshare. To cause people to see things differently and uncover those things about themselves, even if it meant making them uncomfortable. To write. To art. To be emotional and empathetic, gentle and sombre at times, but also simultaneously and wildly compassionate and free…

After all of that, here I am… I’m not over it. I’m not over anything. I am not healed. I am not healing. I am not OK, and I am not lost either. I am just me, whatever I am – rejected, hated, loved, admired, whatever I am to anyone else really doesn’t matter. It never has. THAT is what I lost, and my friend was right – I’m ready. I’m ready to not care anymore. At least, not in a way that controls my life in any other way than the ways I WISH it to be controlled.

That brings me back around to my physical health, and how that’s the ultimate issue for me lately with my anxiety and panic – that is something that I CAN’T control, even though I’m doing everything within my power to do just that… And that’s the journey I now find myself on. Celiac recovery – even though it’s a chronic disease, even though it will never go away, theoretically I can recover from the damage it has done to my body before I knew that it was there, and I can manage it and control it, even if I have to do that for the rest of my life. I’ve wasted too much of my life worrying about others. It’s time to worry about me… I struggle with that, because I don’t know HOW to not worry about others. After 38 years of doing so, how do you just switch that off? You don’t.

Ultimately, I am strong. Stronger than I have yet allowed myself to believe despite the obvious proof that it is so. I am NOT lacking self-confidence, or self-love. I’ve just been acting like it so as not to offend other people – which is something I have SO often preached against. Hashtag self-hypocrisy. So, with that, onward… Onward to health. Onward to like minds. Onward to allowing spirituality and connectedness to matter to me once again. Onward to expanding my mind and learning how to have the open heart I’ve always been plagued with, but putting at least a fence around it and guarding it and protecting it. Onward to healing my body with knowledge and food rather than chemicals and greedy doctors. Onward to keeping it all close to home, in every sense and in every way that feels right to my soul. Onward to silence OR oversharing. Onward to whatever the hell is next, and to hell with over-worrying about pleasing anyone in the process.

Have a pleasant Tuesday, friends… Thanks for reading, as always.


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