Today I had the luxury of writing this post at Chaps Bakery in Spokane, WA. It was the sweetest spot for inspiration plus their coffee is divine. This writing is part one of a three part series about cultivating self-compassion. As with everything I write, this has been a process of integration, what I have experienced in living an intentional life thus far. Thank you for following!
An Impostor In the Arena: A Lesson on Self-Compassion Part 1
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”- Theodore Roosevelt
My heart pulsed relentlessly as the tingling sensation in my fingertips continued to thrive, white hot fury boiling my blood. My reasoning melted into a conglomerate of blurred lines and bright spots as my reaction to a seemingly insignificant situation, rang from wall to wall.
“Way to go Kayla. This is how you’re going to respond. Awesome.”
My husbands expression plastered with a delicate mix of surprise and confusion, he stood silently as I quickly pivoted away from him; humiliated at the women he just witnessed - she was no women; but an unrestrained emotionally marred deeply hurting little girl. That girl was someone I used to know, and she was dangerous. Shame cloaked my shoulders, reminding me of the unattainable doctrines of perfection I so eagerly pursued as heat radiated from my chest. My brain enveloped by one thought
“Impostor…You are a joke."
I can remember the last time I raised my voice and it was four years ago - at the blender. The time before that was at a dog I was housesitting, who devoured only pair of work shoes, positioning me in the desperate place of borrowing the homeowners only pair of size nines; which were 4” stiletto knee high boots (did I mention I had to run at that job!?) - so ya I yelled.. possibly cussed too. But not since then.
Seven years ago I set out on a spiritual journey to “get my act together.” There was no one moment to define when it turned from spiritual integration to proving and doing. Slowly the process of healing became a process of self-annihilating; proving I was "healed” from my past (like healing has a completion date, checkmarks, and lists or even destination) by annihilating what was ugly in the present: anything unworthy of my perfectionistic standard of love.
I set specific rules in how "ideal me" aka "healed me" would engage in life and conduct relationships, especially marriage, and there was little grace to fail - others could but I couldn't. I knew better, because I was better.
If perfectionism is Bonnie then self-righteousness is Clyde, ride or die, they are always together and my self-expectations for the ideal me were non-negotiable, but when I failed them, so was the condemnation. Another tightly woven gang member of the Bonnie and Clyde clan.
Fear seized my entirety as past Kayla peaked through, and she was hurting, not healed. She was messy, embarrassing, and mauled. Past Kayla - She was the epitome of disappointment. The poster child of shame. She was a hustler through and through. Blaming others, overtly- emotional, irresponsible, addicted to alcohol and sex, unrestrained…a fool.
She blamed her hometown for the invisible scarlet letter she bore on her forehead.
She got in drunk altercations with her boyfriend.
She skipped a college final to go meet a guy she met on Myspace.
She impulsively spent all her money on clothes or alcohol.
She rotated through different men depending on the day of the week.
She wrecked her car while drinking and driving.
She preached that YOLO life but found herself sobbing on the floor most nights.
She was unfaithful.
She was a liar.
She was an impostor.
I had banished her to forgettable places filled with all my goblins and beasts. And yet here she was in the arena; pleading for a fight to be free. Memories of her past treachery and treasons induced inquiry.
"Give me one good reason?"
Urgently she replied.
“If you don’t accept me, you cannot accept you, and you will not accept others. Genuine compassion for humanity, only abides when you have compassion for me. You cannot give, what in you has ceased. I hold the key to your freedom and peace. You just have to face these goblins and beasts.”
Into the arena I go.