Emily Maynard: When Failure Seems Easier


When there's something I'm not sure how to say, I start by taking a deep breath. I hold it as long as I can, and then I let it out in one big shove. I can't do that slowly-let-it-out thing, even after years of Pilates training. 

Here's the thing I'm not sure how to say, today, but it keeps spinning in my head so I'll try, in one burst:

I'm much better with failure than I am with success.

The past three years, I've spent conscious effort learning the skills to navigate disappointments. I've walked through the Twelve Step model of recovery, read countless about healing shame and giving up control, poured hours of study into my personal growth, rebuilt my physical health, and learned new ways of meeting God. I love my life now.

I have practiced at walking through not getting my way, staying connected to myself even when stressed, setting boundaries, and healthier ways to engage people. My relationship with God is hilarious.

I can recognize grief, identify shame, and list out my ugly emotions. Humblebrag alert, but I can do these things like a freaking rock star. It's never pretty, but I've got the tools now. I can sit in those hard places and not run away.

You give me failure and loss and I know exactly what to do. I can start working it out like a boss. Boom.

I can own the crap out of my failure.

But here I sit, maybe on the edge of really great exciting things, with sparks all around me, and I feel totally exposed again. 

There is vulnerability in walking through pain, but I am discovering that there is huge vulnerability in joy. 

I was talking about these new, beautiful things to my friend Ally today and she said something so simple: "You deserve this!"

And there it was again, the first thought through my head, the shaming voice I hear every time something goes wrong and then have to punch in the face. But this time it said a new thing: "No, you don't deserve great things. You can have neutral, fine, average things."

I realize that I end up not being able to enjoy good things, because I'm waiting for them to fail so I can start my familiar recovery process. I feel more in control with the powerlessness of failure.

That's messed up, right? 

I've worked myself out of a theology and lifestyle that says I deserve  bad  things, but now I have to move beyond that into believing that I am worthy of  good  things.

I love myself and I know I am deeply loved and accepted by my friends, family, and God. 

But could I handle a great romance? Success and recognition and opportunity in my work? Do all great things come at the expense of someone else? Is a neutral life of mostly bad, but a little good, the best kind of life? Would I just end up relying on external things and spinning out of control again if I lose them? Will people think I'm selling a new shoddy Christian formula for a surface perfect life? Could I make money at that? (jk)

I'm not sure about any of that. 

But I am here, blurting it all out, and hoping for new growth.

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