The Vampires That Hold Us Back
“You’re lazy and good for nothing, and you’ll never amount to anything.”
“You’re too thin-skinned.”
“I was only joking.”
“You’re so lazy you wouldn’t pick up a $100 bill off the floor.”
“You don’t care for anyone but yourself.”
“I want to remember what it was like before you were born.”
“Little Johnny One Note.”
Just a few things told me as a child or adult. You’d think that over time kids would develop a mental thick skin, but when the crap comes from a much-loved relative, you can’t. I knew at an early age that I was spiritually alone and defenseless, and those feelings made me stop relating well to people.
Those comments only made me pull inside myself, crave isolation, reject trust, friendship, and become incredibly depressed. Self-doubt was my childhood companion, and later the vampire that always holds me back. It sucks dry creativity, hope, relationships, and success. It sucks away joy and happiness.
I grew up in a very creative family, and anything I created was found lacking in talent and effort. Nothing stifles childhood artistic ability more than harsh and complete criticism. Now that I’m almost sixty, I see how self-doubt and depression crippled other family members, the ones I depended on for my sense of worth. It’s hard to nurture others when you’ve never been nurtured yourself. You have to seek it from teachers, friends, or friends’ parents. I’ve wasted decades to self-doubt and ridicule.
Thousands of hours of therapy gone by, I still can taste the seeds of ruin.
It takes a strong person to survive abuse; it takes a miracle to survive intact. We have to learn to accept failure as not the end, but a challenge. I had to raise myself in many ways, and not knowing how created a lot of mistakes, missteps, and failure. Sometimes I handed my happiness over to another person, then was shocked at misery that followed.
Many of us who grew up in these circumstances are hard-wired to allow these vampires to hold us back. However, here’s the thing: you only surrender control to these life-suckers if you allow it.
Don’t let them drink your life. Stake them when they rear up and attack your attempts to succeed.
Writers are an odd lot. We create, edit, polish, publish, and then wait for someone to like it. For many of us, the lack of recognition or acclaim is crushing. To be a writer and ignored is like putting on your best clothes and going to a party, only to never get a dance.. We can go home, go to bed, pull covers over our heads, have a good cry, or we can stand by the punch bowl and make notes for the next story.
Writing is very, very hard work, and the very thing that drives us to write doesn’t always do well with criticism. Are we failures because our efforts need work? Does perfectionism feed failure and kill?
Sometimes I’ve really loved a chapter just finished, and take it to critique group only to feel flattened with reality. It feels horrible. I drop what I’m writing and can’t even bear to look at it again.
“Failure” seems stamped all over it. I’ve done it again. I’ll never succeed, never be good enough to publish. If I don’t stake those feelings right then, my creativity dies. My party dress turned out to need more work. It was found lacking, but that’s not the end.
I can let the negativity of my past win, or I can correct, edit, revise, and try again. Let my failures become strengths and not the finale of the story.