The Perils of Self-Doubt and #OurYearOfLivingBravely

Last November, when we had to make the excruciating decision to say goodbye to Lucy (The Goon) we opened the house for friends to come by to bid her a safe journey and have their last snuggle and kiss. Our sweet girl was loved very much so we had quite a few visitors.

I’m glad we offered that opportunity, but something happened I hadn’t seen coming.

As you can imagine, the decision to let her go was not landed upon lightly. And though I will admit, there was a tiny bit of relief in simply making the decision after such a long period of doubt and struggle with her health, I still was not totally sure we were doing the right thing at the right time.

I said as much out loud to Tony many times between Monday, the day we decided, and Thursday when we held our girl for the last time.

But what caused me to doubt myself and my decision to my bones were the questions from a few of our well-meaning friends. “Are you sure you have to now? There’s nothing you can do?”

Their sadness and near pleading dug into my soul and cracked me wide open. They might as well have been saying, ‘How could you?’

Not only did it make me question even more if we could possibly find a way to turn back time and heal all her hurts (which no, no we couldn’t, and we’d been trying for the last year to put band-aids on systems that were simply failing) it made me question myself to a degree that made me certain I couldn’t trust my own judgment anymore.

This was, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon for me. I’ve been struggling with severe self-doubt and self-worth issues for the last few years. Which is why I’m going to be writing about my journey to better emotional and psychological health in a new series of posts about bravery and living wholeheartedly (Thank you, Brene Brown!) in the next couple months. Stay tuned…

But first… this self-doubt thing. Shortly after Christmas, I began rereading my journals, the ones I’d been keeping since last May. I’d been free-writing daily, thirty minutes non-stop, stream of consciousness. Whatever came out was unedited and uncensored. Natalie Goldberg/Writing Down The Bones style.

So, of course, because The Goon was a such a central part of my life, most of those journal entries had details of her health on a day to day basis. Her failing health. As I reread through my entries I relived her struggles, the declining state of her ability to walk much, her daily poop schedule, living day to day, both encouraged and discouraged by the consistency of her output.

How things really began to disintegrate toward the end.

Sometimes when we’re in the middle of something, we’re too close to see it for what it is, but reading those entries, I saw exactly what was happening to our beautiful girl as it happened over time. No one else saw that day to day disintegration. Those well-meaning friends did not have a front row seat to her struggles like we did.

I was never so grateful for those journals as I was then because it showed me we were right to do what we had to do at exactly the time we did it.

That last week she was telling us she was ready to go. I have no doubts about that now.

And the voices of our friends who questioned the timing, who simply wanted her to stay around longer? I don’t blame them. They loved her too.

But I can’t and won’t let those voices in to encourage my self-doubt to rip and tear at me anymore.

That last week was horrible for her and for us, and I know she was grateful to be free of her pain in the end. Everyone says what a gift it is to let them go peacefully, surrounded by our love. And I would agree with the idea of that. The reality of it was devastating for us. But it was good for her. That really was the only important thing, in the end.

So I think we all need a Journal of Truth to help reflect our truths back to us when we begin to waver and doubt ourselves and our choices. Making that decision was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It did not come lightly. But I was quick to doubt it, doubt it when questioned about it, by myself and others. Questioning myself at the deepest level of my self-knowledge and worth.

I’m tired of that shit. It’s time to make a change.

Mincing no words, last year was hell. It was one of the hardest years of my life and not just because we lost Lucy at the end of it. That was an intense grief I’m still not recovered from, but I’m okay with that taking a while. It’s part of the healing process.

It was more than losing The Goon. I was in the process of losing a lot of other things last year and for some time before that as well.

It’s my intention to get them back this year.

I’m not talking about socks or a thong or my favorite pen. Although, seriously, what’s up with those mysterious single socks we all pluck from the greedy dryer? Where does it put the missing ones?

I digress.

What I’ve been losing is myself. Piece by piece. My self-esteem. Self-compassion. Self-respect. I let myself slip away in the midst of depression, self-doubt, failure of one venture and then another and another, until it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning. And as Lucy’s health failed, so did my state of mind, until we both were too far gone to come back.

That’s how it felt for me at the time.

But I’m coming back.

And I’m inviting you to join me on my journey.

Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy CuddyI’ve been doing some heavy reading for the last couple weeks and even heavier emotional lifting. I’m going to share my journey with you here, but more than sharing in an ‘I write, you read’ kind of way, I’d love for you to pick up a torch and walk alongside me as we all find more joy, connection, and love in our lives.

It all begins with a little bravery. Or a lot. My first step on the journey out of this sink hole of self-doubt is sharing this post with you. Make no mistake, it scares the crap out of me. It’s vulnerable and open and possibly crosses the line into over-sharing, which I’ll probably be doing a lot, you just wait, but it’s my way of unfurling, taking a stand for myself.

Humbly asking you to join me, or at least bear witness to the process.

There’s much to this journey I’ll be exploring, but to give you an idea of where we’ll start, I highly recommend reading The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. If it changes your world like it did mine, then maybe you’ll decide to join me in earnest.

I’d like to build a community and celebrate our way into bravery and wholeheartedness with the great wisdom of Liz and Brene and Amy. To that end, when you have something you’d like to share with us about your bravery—whatever that looks like to you (I’ll get much more into that in the next post), use the hashtag #ouryearoflivingbravely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so we can build a record, a Communal Truth Journal online of all of our victories.

#ouryearoflivingbravely
#ouryearoflivingbravely begins now

Who couldn’t use a few more victories? Even vicarious ones. The more the merrier I say.

If you struggle with self-doubt or worthiness or being emotionally brave, I’m hoping you’ll step forward and join me in this. I think we all could probably be a little more courageous in our lives, a little more open and vulnerable.

I’ll share what the different faces of bravery look like to me in the next post, but I’d just like to say I’m thrilled to be on this quest for wholeness and health and I’m hoping you’re going to stand bravely next to me ready for whatever comes next. It’s going to be amazing and difficult and inspiring and scary and awesome.

Sounds a bit like life, no?

And please, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and buy those books. They are nothing short of amazing. Every one of them.

If you know someone who is struggling and you’d like to share this post with them, please feel free to do so using the buttons down yonder. ↓

With all sorts of gratitude and a lot of nervous, slightly jittery hope,

Author Kelly Byrne Website

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Kelly Byrne
An award-winning writer in many a genre, I currently herd words into novels and short stories about wildly flawed, but lovable characters. I strive to uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary, for those who believe in the possibility of the impossible, and those who always believe in love. My fiction embraces the idea that extraordinary things can and do happen in the real world. These whisperings of supernatural elements give my work a strong emotional edge, lending surprise and wonder to every story. I live in Los Angeles with my desperately handsome boyfriend where I’m working on my next novel.

6 Comments

  1. What a gigantic moment for you, Kel!! I’m equal parts ecstatic and saddened by your post: sad to know you were going through that…I had some idea but not as clearly as you laid it out here; and ecstatic to see you climbing your way out of the pit that most the time only seems to draw us deeper inside of it.

    When you’re coated in self-doubt and low self-esteem, it’s hard to see yourself in anything but. They’re so heavy to remove, to shake off. And what’s scary about them is that after a while, after wearing them for so long, you stop even considering putting anything else on because they tell you it’s not worth it…you’re not worth it. They’re like a reverse invisibility cloak: they hide from you the person you could be without them.

    Yay for you!! I’ll definitely be along for the ride…can’t wait to see where it takes us!

    1. Thanks so much, Kel. It means a lot to know you’re coming along with me. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, for sure. These things grow legs and dig in and don’t let go after reading a few books, this I know.

      But being conscious about what’s happening when it’s happening (a lot of negative self-talk crap comes to mind) I think it’s going to be easier to heal and fixing what was broken.

      And you’re exactly right. I loved the reverse invisibility cloak analogy. It’s exactly that. Hiding the real you from yourself, making you believe you’re not worthy. It’s ugly and I’m looking forward to changing it. So nice to have you by my side as we go forth into a brave new world. 🙂

      Big hugs!

  2. Hi Kelly,
    What a beautiful post! I can really relate to what you’re saying. I love how you said “Sometimes when we’re in the middle of something, we’re too close to see it for what it is”. So true! I too have a tendency to zoom in on the problem and get lost in the day to day struggles. I get tunnel vision and after a while all you can see is what hurts, what is difficult and what isn’t working.

    It can be so helpful to “zoom out”, gain a different perspective on what is happening. To see that there is more going on than I have let myself believe. Show myself more understanding and much needed compassion. Which is exactly what you did and by sharing that you have given me a much needed reminder. A reminder to get back to myself. To give myself a break.

    I recognize that it must have felt vulnerable to open up like this, though what I see most is your strength, your courage, your light. Thank you for Rising Strong.

    Oh, and I all but leaped from my chair when you said “I want to build a community and celebrate our way into bravery”. Yes! I’m so with you. Let’s make this #ouryearoflivingbravely.

    Love, Yvon

    P.S. about the sock thing: perhaps that is the universe’s way of saying that even socks lose themselves sometimes.

    1. Thanks a bunch, Yvon. Tunnel vision is so tricky and so easy to fall into when you’re dealing with things daily that don’t seem to change or want to and it’s hard to pull ourselves out of that funk. Finding a new perspective is key. I don’t know if you ever read my post about depression/inertia, but here it is in case you want to give it a read.

      http://www.authorkellybyrne.com/2015/06/depression-sucks-but-this-might-help/

      And yes, self-compassion is something I want to talk a lot about because I think we’re lacking it much of the time. Why is it so much easier to be kind to someone else than it is to ourselves? That needs to change, and I’m thrilled you’re working on changing it. I’m right there with you. We need to give ourselves a break! We’re doing the best we can.

      I’m so thrilled you’re with me on this journey. You’ve been such a great support and friend and I’m so glad we’ve connected. And I LOVE what you said about the socks. That was just perfect. 🙂 Big hugs.

  3. Oh Dear Heart! This is so exciting! I love Brene Brown and have been a follower of hers for a long, long time! I love this journey and I’m jumping on with you!! After Rocky died, I made a declaration to him, to myself and to the world that I was going to begin living my life much more courageously:-) You are an ongoing inspiration for me and so many others!! I love your spirit, your courage, and your willingness to take us on this beautiful and vulnerable ride. Being compassionate with ourselves is the only place we can begin in order to have true compassion for others. This has always been my belief and yet, there have been so many times that I’ve beat myself silly until I remember…I am human (most days) and I will continue to make mistakes so my soul can continue to grow and evolve. You are a beacon of light. Thank you for your wisdom and guidance. All my love to you my friend as you walk along this new and exciting path.

    1. Thank you so much, Susan, for your support and encouragement and being your awesome self. We’re going to rock this bravery stuff together and I’m so happy you’re on board with me.

      Yes, self-compassion is huge! I’ll definitely be posting up about that because it’s something I totally suck at in general. There’s a test that proves it, even. lol But every day I’m getting better. It’s almost like I can feel the wounds closing inside me, slowly healing up into a soft scar. Scars are okay. They remind us of where we’ve been. Gaping wounds, not so much.

      I’m so glad you’ve decided to come on this journey. Hang on, it may be bumpy and scary and sometimes really hard, but it’ll always be interesting! Big hugs.

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