Holding Hostage

by Lacey Roy-Ciciriello

I sat in my car with tears streaming down my face. “It’s not good enough” and “It’s not ready yet” made each tear feel hotter. I was caving under the immense pressure I had slowly heaped on myself, and I heartbreakingly realized that I’m not good enough.

Who am I to… [enter any action consisting of asserting myself]…?”

The tricky thing about slippery slopes and ranges is that it’s incredibly difficult to realize how bad something has become until it’s out-of-control. What was innocent and positive has turned cold and negative.

How did I get so wrapped up in perfection that my productivity came to a grinding halt? Once so self-assured and known for confidence, now second-guessing everything coming out of my mouth and every action I thought about taking? No longer striving for excellence, striving for unattainable perfection.

Along the way, my brain grabbed and hoarded little pebbles of truth in stories, comments, jokes. My mind’s voice would weave a narrative through the ridges of my sense of self, how I was fooling everyone but only for a minute; they’d all catch on in just a matter of time and I’ll be seen as a fraud. Imposter. More and more, I found myself believing the nuggets of perceived truth to support the thoughts that I wasn’t worthy, not good enough, not perfect enough.

I was holding myself hostage.

This is the part of the blog where I have a miraculous turn around, four to five sentences of how I figured it out and am now a superstar. Although I am indeed a super star in my own right, divine and amazing (just as everyone is), I don’t have a quick and easy fix. 

I can share what’s helped me return to productivity and laughing. The three actions that brought me back to myself, free from the shackles of perfectionism and Imposter Syndrome (it’s a thing, look it up!).

First, I called my therapist and moved my appointment sooner. I firmly and passionately believe that everyone, regardless of any variant in life, should have a therapist they see regularly (whether weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). I’m so extraordinarily blessed to have a woman whom I can lay this in front of and trust to help me healthfully dig to the bottom so issues can be confronted and faced.

Second, I took the courage offered me and confronted the root of it. I scheduled time in my calendar as an appointment and used that time to write down every past trauma, story, comment that kept replaying in my head. I wrote about the fear of abandonment from being adopted, shame from past sexual assault, and my ex husband who won my self confidence in the divorce more than a decade ago. On those pages I allowed myself to finally acknowledge how I felt in these situations and that I hadn’t actually healed, I had just simply detached. There was a safe space, pen to paper, to reconnect.

Third, I tore those pages out of my journal, crumpled them in a ball so the words were all smooshed together and lit them on fire. I let it all go.

Every day since, I have consciously made the decision to do one thing that scares me, publish one thing that I worked on that day, and do something that makes me happy. Read that as: every day I do one thing courageously, I embrace being authentic in myself, and I grow my self-confidence. These three things ensure that every night I have facts and actions for a new narrative that is filled with courage, love, and me. What narrative is your brain writing and whispering to you? What are you holding yourself hostage from?