Back then, it seemed so simple. I had a problem - I needed to meet new people. I had a passion - I loved to write. I had a solution - start a blog. So, that's exactly what I did. I jumped on blogger, created a new blog, spent a couple of days designing the layout until I thought it was perfect, created a loose content plan and then dreamed of building my brand. I only ran into one problem. As soon as I was up and running, I found myself incapable of writing.
Now, all writers go through bouts of writers block, it just comes with the territory. However, this was different. This wasn't a struggle to find the right words. In fact, at the time, I was having no problems crafting eloquent sentences together. The problem was, that I didn't recognize the voice underneath the words. After a couple of weeks of trying to write and failing, I brought it up during a therapy session:
My Therapist (MT): So, what's going on?That session happened about 10 months ago. Voiceless and frustrated, I stopped writing my blog and I virtually stopped Yelping. During those 10 months, with the help of my therapist, I did a hella lot of work - making a deliberate effort to get okay with myself - the good, the bad, and the ironic.
Me: I'm having trouble writing my blog
MT: Oh really, what seems to be the problem?
Me: When I write, the words that come out don't sound like me
MT: Who do they sound like?
Me: I don't know
MT: Are you having problems writing in general, or just the blog
Me: Well, it started with the blog, but since then, I've also been having a problem writing my Yelp reviews
MT: Really? You were doing really well with your Yelping, what changed?
Me: I lost my voice there too. Before I could just write without thinking about it, now all I do is think before I write.
MT: What changed?
Me: Nothing really. Well, my ex-boyfriend text me that he read one of my reviews.
MT: Did that bother you??
Me: No, though I suppose I hadn't thought about people who really know me reading my yelp reviews. Well except for my sisters and BFFs.
MT: So what difference does it make if your ex reads your reviews?
MT: Is the voice in your yelp reviews much different that your own?
Me: No, not really. My yelp reviews are written just like the voice in my head. I guess I'm just not sure if the voice in my head is the voice I normally share with most people.
MT: How did you feel when you were writing your yelp reviews?
Me: I loved writing my Yelp reviews. I enjoyed writing them, and while I wanted them to be entertaining, I wasn't motivated by the reactions of readers more than I was motivated to share my opinion. I guess with the blog, it's more important for people to like what I'm writing. In some ways I feel like I need people to like what I'm writing...
MT: Why do you need people to like what you're writing on your blog?
Me: *shrugs* I just do.
MT: What if you wrote your blog and people didn't like it?
Me: I'd be mortified
MT: How come you weren't mortified if people didn't like your Yelp reviews?
Me: Because on Yelp all opinions matter, that's the point of Yelp
MT: So you don't think your opinion matters on YOUR blog?
Me: It's not that, it's just that on my blog, I need to be right
MT: What happens if you're not right?
Me: If I'm not right, I shouldn't be writing it
MT: That's a lot of pressure for a blog. What if you just wrote what you thought, right or wrong?
Me: I need to be right. I need to think objectively and deliver a solid opinion...that is right most of the time - I recognize that I can't be perfect.
MT: What would happen if you were wrong?
Me: I know the world won't end if I'm wrong, I'm just saying that I shouldn't be wrong. The point is to try my hardest to be right.
MT: That doesn't sound like any fun. Maybe that's why you're struggling with your writing right now. Who are you trying to impress?
Me: I don't know...
MT: Maybe you should stop trying to write your blog until you figure that out...
Me: *pouting* I guess...
There were sessions that I completely broke down - crying, wailing and sobbing - ashamed of my own vulnerabilities. There were sessions where we ripped the bandages off old wounds exposing them to air and light so they could finally truly heal. There were months spent deconstructing years of social programming that reinforced the farce that I - in my most authentic and honest state - was not good enough. There were deep emotional dives into uncomfortable places - where the pretense of confidence and self-esteem were exposed and the frailty of my insecurities came to light.
There were exercises in imposing boundaries, saying no, and putting myself and my well being first. Then there was lessons in letting down my guard, saying yes, and feeling entitled to get what I want. There were also lessons in letting go of the past and not being afraid of the future. And at the end of all this hard, uncomfortable work, something quite extraordinary happened - I found myself - completely and utterly uncharacteristically happy - content and joyful from my insides - in a way that I had not ever previously experienced and NEVER thought was possible.
That was three months ago - almost two and half years after my first appointment with MT - and guess what? I've found my voice again and I'm readier than ever to use it. I suppose that's what happens when you stop pretending to be happy and do the work necessary to actually become happy.
Throughout your journey, as you push through the challenges, remember - happiness is a worthwhile destination.
Peace, love and happiness