The Woman on the Side of the Road

“I don’t even have words with which to properly articulate what it’s like when you become that deeply fucked up.” –ChristyShawFitness

“Faith can get you through anything.” –DIY Camper

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Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

Something tells me the Truthers aren’t living in their own fantasy world anymore.

Is it me, or is this place overpopulated? I’m feeling claustrophobic every time I step out of my house, on the roads full of tailgaters and in the stores jammed with last-minute, harried shoppers with hair-trigger tempers.

I live in a constant state of waiting for the next shoe to drop. I can only hope I’m ready, as ready as I’ll ever be.

But that’s not what this blog entry is about.

What this blog entry is about is my perennial self-doubt, especially when put on the spot.

I know I’m not alone. Everybody suffers from self-doubt. When the spotlight’s on us, we freeze, worried to death that we won’t come through, we can’t perform.

Even though I’ve never let myself down, there’s always that initial phase of almost-crippling self-doubt bordering on acute self-consciousness that I’m some fake, and that I’ll must assuredly let you down.

When it comes to writing, I always go through this phase. It’s a mix of extreme laziness — do I really have to do all this work? — and extreme insecurity — what if I fuck up?

A fellow writer in Spokane once told me, “We all go through the same insecurity. But then, you realize you know what you’re doing.”

He’s right.

The minute I start thinking about what I’m supposed to do, I’ve already set myself back.

Athletes go through this too. They overthink the shot, then they miss. They overthink the pitches, then they throw balls, or strike out. It’s called, getting in your head, and we’re real good at it.

Nowadays, society doesn’t really put much stock into feelings or gut instinct. But it’s saved my life numerous times.

I remember a few months ago seeing this homeless woman holding up a sign asking for money at the entrance to a Trader Joe’s. I’d see her every time I went there. The burden of guilt, and fear (that I would end up just like her), weighed down so heavily on me that one day I took $40 out, not much, and walked over there intending to simply hand it to her.

Instead, I looked up at her. We locked eyes, and my arms opened reflexively into an embrace. Keep in mind that I am not an affectionate person. I’m kind of a hypochondriac germaphobe. I have no idea where that came from, other than for once in my life I stopped living in my fucked-up head and focused outward, on someone else.

This love flowed through me and onto her. The words that tumbled out didn’t matter. She responded instantly. We both stood there hugging for what seemed like an eternity. Someone else saw us and came out, walking over $20 to her.

After that day, I never saw her again. I hope she’s doing better.

I need to live like that. I need to live. You know what I mean.

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