Today I woke up feeling a little sick to my stomach. I felt guilty and unworthy of good things. I'm in a state of constant worry that this good thing will be taken away from me and that everyone will finally realize I'm a fraud. Every time someone expresses their excitement for me, my initial instinct is to shut down their kind words. All I can think is who cares? It's no big deal. Let's not make a big deal out of this. Stop paying attention to me. It's no big deal. Really. What's happening in your life? That's way more interesting!
A quick deflect because when you spend a decade trying to hide, it is hard to be visible and accept it as natural. I struggle to accept the good things when they come.
On April 6th, 2017, I started writing about my art and my struggles with mental illness, and openly sharing it because I was tired of living with the shame I carried around on my shoulders. I was vulnerable and scared, but knew that the only way to heal was to start talking about my past (and present) without embarrassment, because really, what did I have to be ashamed of?
Today, April 5th, 2018, is the opening night of my first solo exhibition in an art gallery. My art…on the walls…of a real-life art gallery. This is real! Younger me is screaming in disbelief! And me today is crying with joy. I know that this might not sound like much, but…it is everything. My journey has literally, and metaphorically, come full circle - to the day! I went from sharing my journey openly and honestly to getting to reveal a collection of works that reflect the painfully hard work that went into my recovery. I am eternally grateful to all of the people who have stood by me through this process. There is never a right time to seek out help. You will always find excuses to avoid it and it is so much easier to just deal with it yourself than to actually acknowledge that you have a problem and let someone else take the wheel for a bit. There is no shame in leaning on others. You are not weak. You are so much stronger than you think.
The journey is never over, but I’m going to try to enjoy this moment and try not to feel like an imposter.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
It takes a village.