Ten weeks into the Covid 19 pandemic lock-down here in the UK, I noticed a post by freelance author, therapeutic writing specialist and bodywork consultant Kate Orson. She was running online therapeutic writing workshops to help unlock those inner most thoughts we aren’t even aware of.
Something in the description of the workshop about ‘unlocking’ and delving beyond our awareness, caught my attention so I signed up.
I am glad I did. Kate’s warmth and friendly calm manner put me straight at ease and I got stuck in with the tasks of allowing the pen to flow without stemming it or trying to figure out what was coming.
One of the exercises was to write a letter to our emotions. As the timer started for our 15 minute free flow of the pen, I stared at the blank page before me, feeling rather awkward that nothing was coming. I decided to write the word ‘Dear’ just to make a start of some sort. As I completed the word ‘dear’ it came, like a flood, unstoppable, it came out of seemingly nowhere. Kate was right. And I was astounded.
Here is what I wrote, unedited.
Letter to my emotions
Dear insecurity, you’ve been around a long time, influencing my thoughts, steps, decisions. You have kept me hidden in the background, behind the scenes, never wanting to be out there, recognised, exposed, open. You have fed the shame and like good friends, you two have ganged up against me holding me back, holding me down, your words to me always being “what if” or “just in case”
“What if it all goes wrong”?
“What if you make a fool of yourself and prove others they were right about you all along”?
“What if everything you believe is a mistake and it turns out you were gullible?”
“Just in case you are wrong Michelle, stay low, hide, keep out of the way, just in case others are better than you, know more than you”.
But now, so many years on, I ask you, insecurity.
How have you served me?
Why this approach?
I hear you say “for your protection Michelle”
So, I ask “did it work”? “Did it protect me”? “Protect me from what”?
No, it didn’t protect me, it was a mask, a pacifier to my ego, fear, emotions.
Staying low, staying hidden hasn’t served me. But now I am ready to step out from the shadow where I have hidden and into the light, exposed, perhaps vulnerable but finally open, here, visible, raw.
Because now I ask “what if my books can help transform the lives of others for the better”?
What if my spoken words touch the hearts of the discouraged?
What if my actions bring relief to those in pain?
So I am ready to step out even if I make a fool of myself, even if it goes wrong, because the sting and consequence of never trying is worse than that of trying and getting it wrong, learning and growing.
Getting it wrong can redirect me to the right path so actually it’s a win-win. I just never saw it before. I let you rule or lead but no more.
Farewell insecurity, welcome boldness, faith, hope.
I put the pen down and was astounded at what I wrote.
Where did it come from?
Is that really what has been leading my decisions, feeding my fears? Holding me back from publishing the books I have written, from using my voice to speak, from writing my memoir and sharing hope?
Shouldn’t it have been obvious all this time?
Well, that’s the thing you see with our subconscious. It can lead us into all sorts of behaviours and decisions without us fully aware of the mechanics at work.
Old traumas or experiences can cause subtle wounds that fester and go deep. The damage at work can be deceptive, we are unaware as we carry on doing life and then suddenly we look back and wonder why we made certain decisions, why we were held back by our own limiting beliefs, how we ended where we are now.
Writing that letter to my emotions helped me understand what is at work in my mind and to take charge, to regain control and to be aware of how our mind can work against us not for us. The Bible (Romans 12,2) very wisely instructs us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What does that tell me?
It tells me that I need to stop relying on my mind, on my self, to figure it all out because I am a product of my experiences and environment which have shaped my thinking, judgement, and decisions. Each of us has their own unique experiences which have shaped our thinking, opinions, beliefs and decisions, so how can we know what is true, what is right, what is wise?
By letting go. By going back to source. By asking the one who holds all the answers and by trusting in His wisdom.
This has been the hardest step for me to take. All through my life I have tried to work it out, tried to figure it for myself, when I trusted others I fell flat on my face. When I trusted myself, I ended up in a mess. When I researched, read and cross referenced I ended up confused and stressed with all the different types of explanations, methodologies, science, or other peoples beliefs, anxious about the what if’s, fear seeping in like a slithering reptile, creeping up on it’s prey.
I am not going to lie or dress this up pretty. This journey has been tremendous and I have fought against trusting because life taught me not to trust, life taught me to guard myself, to watch my own back. But it hasn’t served me well, it kept me constantly wrecked from the stress of watching my back and planning for every possibility. Peace could not come. I’ve gone to this person and that counsellor, and this therapist and that solution but truly never finding peace or healing, just an incredible number of possible solutions. Don’t get me wrong, therapists and counsellors have their place and are of immense value but in my case, nothing and no one could bring healing, restoration, peace and a sense of trust. I had to step out of my person, my mind and into the hands of the all knowing, all understanding, all powerful source of life, God.
Three years ago, I visited a church I had not attended before. In the midst of the meeting, a woman stood up and announced that she had been given a prophetic picture from God. It was of a wobbly rope bridge with wooden slats held by rope. A person stood on one end of the bridge afraid to step on it for fear of falling. She said “there is someone here who has a big decision to make. God has given you a vision and you have a task to complete but it feels huge, too big, too scary and you are standing in front of that bridge afraid. But God is saying, “don’t be afraid, all you have to do is take one step on the bridge and I will be with you holding your hand and crossing it together, all you have to do is make the decision, make the choice, I will honour whatever you choose”.
I knew that word was for me. I had arrived that day praying in the car about a vision God had given me to write books that heal the world and to start with my own story. I was asking God if I had heard right, if this was truly what I needed to do and questioned who would ever want to read my story when every one of us has a story of overcoming? I asked him to show me in a way that I would know it was him, unquestionably. And then, I parked the car and entered the church…
When the service finished, this lady came and found me. The room was packed and I was squeezed in somewhere at the back. She leaned over, tapped me on the shoulder and said “excuse me, can I ask, was that word I gave for you?” Astonished, I replied that I believed it was. She went on to say that when she stood up, God had prompted her to turn around and look in my direction. When she saw my face she knew the word she was about to give was for me but she didn’t want to embarrass me by calling me out. I was grateful. I assured her the word was an answer to my prayers of that morning and at that she simply stated she would pray for me and all I had to do was trust and start.
It took three years of starting and stopping, of believing and doubting, of leaning in and walking away, of trusting and then distrusting, of disappointment, rejection, a sense of being alone. But finally, in these weeks of the pandemic, something new has taken place in my heart. A change. A change of heart, a change of mind, an embracing of my faith, a walking back towards, a letting go of distrust, an admitting of not being able to do it alone, a realisation that I am not alone, a letting go of the shame of what you might think of me, a letting go of insecurity and finding my security in God, in Christ the only one who can never walk away, reject, abandon, or let me down.
So with that, I pick up my pen again, and I lean in, fully invested, fully committed, fully in for the journey. I am buckling up my belt for all that is to come and I am getting my faith armour on as I continue co- journeying with the one who placed the vision in my heart all those years ago…
If you would like to try therapeutic writing, you can find Kate on her page here for further workshops. https://www.facebook.com/TheDesireToWrite/