#WriteWithMe Reflection: Week 18

Here I am, the last prompt of #WriteWithMe, and I am not ready for it to end.

I started developing this writing journey in August of 2022, and officially began it October 24th, 2022. Traveling with me from various spaces across the US were 20 brave souls, 9 of whom joined the virtual space where they received prompts, guidance and offers of support weekly. For the last 18 weeks, we have wrestled with some things, gotten to know ourselves better, and grew in our writing practices. Among other things of course.

I told myself that this writing journey would be different from #JuWriSoMos, and it certainly was. While I learned a lot and grew in confidence with my writing practice through #JuWriSoMos, I definitely didn’t self-reflect or challenge myself as much as I did with #WriteWithMe. I don’t know if the other brave souls who have now joined me for two writing journeys felt the shift, but this year was not designed to just strengthen our writing practices. My hope was to provide participants a series of reflection points, coupled with mindfulness and care practices, that would allow us to move through the winter months and the blues that often come with them and come out the other side ready and focused for whatever we decided was next for us.

I knew going into it that the prompts were going to make me dig and get into the messiness of my life. But I needed to figure out what I was doing next, find my space and pathway again, and make some key decisions, so I was willing to do that.

It was harder than I thought it would be in the beginning. And while there were pieces about this journey that got easier, it stayed messy and challenging. All the way up to the end of last week. Last week the prompts were about fear (you can read my reflection on last week here), and something about really seeing the fears I have for what they are made so many things come together in my being…

So anyway, here I am, the last day and the last prompt for the 2022-2023 writing journey and I have somethings I want to share with you before I go.

One of the things that I really wrestled with throughout this journey was this idea that I don’t know what I am doing. I’m guessing this would be a cousin to full imposter syndrome, honestly. I came into it with this gigantic weight on my shoulders that was essentially covering my eyes to what I should be doing and where I wanted to go. I recognized through this journey that the people young me looked to that were supposed to show me what life could be and what was expected of me never really modeled making their own decisions. They were always waiting for someone, or something, else to give them a signal or instructions. I hadn’t really reflected on this piece before, but it occurred to me that in addition to my struggles with ADHD and CPTSD, the models I had for trusting my inner self did not exist in those formative years or until long into my adulthood. This is not to say it is anyone’s fault per say, to be honest my formative models had ADHD and this coupled with their religious proclivities…well it just made sense that they would struggle with decision making and were always looking for external executive function assistance. Anyway, honestly I just hadn’t noticed this to be part of the reason I distrusted that I knew what I was doing and what I wanted for so long. I didn’t realize before that there was part of me that felt I didn’t know what I was doing because I felt I needed to have someone else validate and instruct me to what came next. Starting to get clear about the fact that I DO in fact know my purpose and the direction I am heading, and why I am heading that way, felt a bit unnerving and I had to sit with this for a while. I had never examined what those processes looked like in my formative years, I had honestly always attributed this to the way my brain works and to the societal norms which try to control everything about me because of the gender I was assigned at birth.

As I unraveled what this meant, and how it was playing out in my life, a few things became crystal clear to me. I began to recognize that I wasn’t really feeling lost, indecisive, or even purposeless. I was feeling the residue of an ideal that I had long ago discarded because it did not serve me, and is not true of me.  There was a piece of this unnerving feeling that I simply needed to release, it is part of a life that was forced and coerced upon me to restrict who I am.

This led me to reflect on my leadership over the years and how irresponsible I was with the kind of leadership I was offering until someone called me up to accountability. Since that point, I have been able to see many of the actions that I took that caused harm, and I have been working to repair the damage I have done as I am learning and growing. I have been able to examine how I got to that place and have been owning the actions I took. But, it took someone else calling me up to accountability for me to see what I was doing. And as I viewed this from the perspective I have now I recognized something else: I am accountable to myself before I am accountable to anyone else.

I can, and need to be, accountable for showing up as my best self when no one else is watching, doing my best when no one else is cheering me on, noticing the impact of my behavior and adjusting when no one asks me to. I need to self-correct instead of depending on others to correct me. Taking accountability for myself and how I show up in this world is my responsibility. Others can, and should if they have that kind of relationship with me, ask me to be accountable and bring harm I have done to my attention, but I don’t have to wait for anyone else in order to call myself up. I noticed that as these things came into clarity, I was able to soften towards myself. Not let myself off the hook, give myself some compassion so I can continue to grow and realign as a human being and a leader. Doing the inner work of accepting and making my own decisions and releasing what I cannot know about the actions of others who impacted my life in ways that changed the trajectory of it.

While all of this has been heavy and messy, there’s a certain peace to coming through it and recognizing that even though it feels strange I don’t need to doubt where I am headed or what my next steps will be. I don’t need to doubt myself, my capabilities, my instincts about what I am here to do. When I feel that uncertainty arising, I can tune into it and not lose my marbles. I can approach with curiosity and compassion, notice what it is trying to tell me, and summon the courage to take it in and also to release it. This journey is an ongoing one, I know, but it feels good to stand in this place. And I am going to savor that.  

Friend, as I move on from this writing journey, I want to offer my sincerest gratefulness for your presence and support through it. In the weeks and months to come, I will be revealing more of what I learned through this process and developing the next journey for this fall.

In the meantime…

May you find what you’ve been looking for and laugh so hard the tears flow freely. May you grow with grace and humility as you learn from every choice you make. May you grieve the loss and pain and sorrow and live your life fully. May you love bravely and loudly and remember who you are.

May you know that you are enough. Exactly as you are.

May you feel your worthiness. Exactly as you are.

May you know and be known. Exactly as you are.

May you love and be loved. Exactly as you are.

May you feel rooted and connected. May you rest your weary bones. May you feel the fear and move with courage anyway.

May you let go of what needs to be released from before. And may you welcome this moment exactly as you are.