Photo by Michael S. Wright
Tonight I really did not want to write, but part of carrying out my project so publicly mean I feel kind of accountable so here I am. It was a long day with wonderful moments of tenderness, some amazing food, much laughter, a little rage at a group of 'dudes' and, procrastination. The latter was mostly about the blog and a little about the long list of emails patiently waiting in my gmail inbox.
When I first embarked on this project I was daunted by the commitment to focus on vulnerability daily, and also to write everyday. I thought I would run out of topics, yet that does not seem to be an issue. As I ask myself how I felt vulnerable today, there are stories already touched on, but the loudest reply seems to be about self-doubt. I didn't want to write tonight because I felt wobbly. Suddenly this project seemed self-indulgent, a navel-gazing activity that only someone with enough privilege (of time, Internet access, education, etc.) could undertake. More fundamental than that though I felt stupid. Would people see this endeavor as attention-seeking, even narcissistic? Could this be classified as exhibitionist behavior? As a therapist, I believe it is not necessarily unhealthy to ask myself those questions, but, as I write my fears and thoughts down, I also realize there is a familiarity here. When I am afraid my inner critic becomes loud. One of the things he knows about me is how quickly any labeling of my behavior as attention-seeking and/or stupid can shut me up.
I have only recently realized how deeply ingrained those messages are for me, and where they come from. There was a family vulnerability I learnt to defend through silence, and, no matter how much I rebelled against it over the years, it still rears its head in the way described. I also wonder though how much my, and my family's, avoidance of attention-seeking behaviors had to do with safety. I know that drawing attention to oneself was definitely not safe for my grandparents, both maternal and paternal for different reasons, including a fascist regime at one point in their life. I know that drawing attention to yourself when you are a working class family emigrated from Sicily to the 'continent', as the rest of Italy is called on my mom's island, is the last thing you want. You also don't want attention if you are beating your wife or your kids, or if you are afraid that attention might bring more hits, or possibly worse, tear your family apart. So maybe my inner critic has my best interests at heart and is using what he knows.
There are more stories to be told on self-doubt. I am still in the grips of it. I have no idea whether this seems like a pointless, self-absorbed exercise. However, I don't need to decide anything tonight. I have kept my commitment and I am present, once again, to the vulnerability of this moment. Maybe all I need to know right now is that it is time to go to sleep. Tomorrow, after all, is another day and, as one of my yoga teachers says, "a new opportunity for peace".