Shitshow in my brain.

I often struggle with confidence thanks to the insulting voices in my head. When I’m out in public with my husband I fear the world is saying, “Why is that hottie with that troll?” When I’m in social situations I constantly have voices in my head saying, “Oh my god. Quit being a freak. Why are you joking about your teen pregnancy at this fancy neighborhood meeting?” When I’m in professional situations I struggle with imposter syndrome and when I’m parenting my kids I plan the future paths every second in which they end up hating me for every decision I’ve ever made. I over analyze every interaction with every casual friend so that I can build my foundation around why they’re avoiding me or why they don’t like me.

Now. I 100% believe in the power of shutting those voices down and repeating mantras of self-love instead. This has helped me a lot in terms of learning to love my body, and truthfully? It keeps me from going back to the days of being scared to leave the house or being disconnected as a parent. These voices in my head have crippled me before and through positive self-talk and silencing the negativity, I have developed a very livable life with my insecurities at a hum instead of a roar.

But these last few weeks and ESPECIALLY the last several days? I’m having a crisis of confidence around my writing/content generation.

I think it started with writing something kinda personal and sharing it with a trustworthy loved one for their thoughts and – they either thought it was too personal and I shouldn’t share it and they didn’t want to tell me that…OR…they never finished reading it. AND I AM NOT SURE WHICH IS WORSE, honestly.

Or, maybe it started the day I posted some pictures from a historical graveyard on instagram and someone I casually know in “real” life suggested that was insensitive to the people with loved ones buried there.

Either way, now it seems like every voice that isn’t telling me…YOU ARE AMAZING, KEEP IT UP GIRL is telling me to go away forever. There is no middle ground. Anything besides flagrant flattery falls under: EVERYONE HATES ME I SHOULD NOT BE POSTING CONTENT ANYWHERE.

I’ve had some kinda hurtful responses to some of my Pro-Choice stuff this last week. It’s not the random rage of pro-lifers who don’t know me. Believer it or not, when you’ve been online for 15 years and have even a moderately stable audience, social platforms put your content out there on feeds and you get random hate from strangers. Last week I got included in a hate tweet with Ava Duvernay and I was actually kinda excited about that one!

No, random hate from strangers? I don’t get a lot of it but I’ve gotten enough of it over the years that it doesn’t even scratch beneath the surface of my skin anymore. Especially on Twitter. If you all knew how many strangers I muted for telling me to kill myself you’d be shocked.

These last few weeks it’s just the moderately (or severely in one case) critical voices of people I know who have made me doubt my voice. Some of them haven’t even been critical, if I really look at it deeply. Maybe they’ve just been…voices of other angles? Uggg. I don’t know. I just know that my brain is cataloging all of them now and they play on endless loops and they have shaken my confidence and right now? When I’m trying to write a memoir in the secrecy of my home? IS NOT THE TIME THAT I NEED MY CONFIDENCE IN VOICE SHATTERED.

At first it manifested in my over-analyzing everything I was going to post. A tweet about Alabama’s Abortion Ban? What if my Catholic aunt who I adore suddenly starts to hate me? A Facebook post about the latest episode of “Pod Save The People”? What if my childhood friend turned law enforcement starts arguing with me about their stance on policing? An instagram post with my daughter wearing her Obama hat? What if that family member criticizes me for brainwashing my kid?

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to defend myself to people who I know in real life and who I know have minds that won’t change. It’s a waste of energy. That’s why I keep my content to MY turf and don’t bring it to someone else’s. But lately people have felt emboldened maybe? To bring their comments to my turf and suddenly now I’m worried about those responses in everything.

I used to post about systemic racism and criminal justice all the time. I used to write about reproductive rights with confidence. I used talk about my atheism and my spiritual journey every chance I get. But now I have this arsenal of negative responses that I’ve gotten lately from REAL WORLD PEOPLE and they won’t leave my head and they have me doubting everything and just not posting things when I think of them.

And then this week? I started deleting stuff and that’s when I knew: THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR. I’m letting this crisis in confidence shake me so hard I’m deleting things I’ve written.

Now…there is nothing wrong with deleting things. But I’ve deleted like 6 posts in various formats (blog, facebook, twitter, instagram) in the last 5 days and that is why I suddenly felt like: THIS HAS ENTERED CRISIS MODE.

At first I thought, “Kim! You used to write your heart and not worry about what other people said!” But the problem is, it’s a lot easier to not worry about them when they stay quiet and they STOPPED STAYING QUIET. It hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend to wake up to negative reactions/responses from two people on the same section of my family who are not close in age or geography and who had never before reacted or commented to much of anything. I convinced myself that the entire section of that family has been talking about me and they both just HAD TO DO/SAY SOMETHING. Maybe it was just pure coincidence but either way – I have somehow given these people who NEVER INTERACT WITH MY LIFE AT ALL the power over my voice and y’all? I AM PISSED OFF AT MYSELF.

I need my confidence back. I want to actually finish AND PUBLISH the post I wrote about how systemic racism survives because we keep dehumanizing anyone with a criminal past. I want to write more about the beauty industry and why I think we need to revolt against age-shaming. I want to talk about where yoga has taken me on my spiritual journey and I want to talk about my anxieties about my upcoming travel. BUT I KEEP HEARING THESE VOICES INSIDE OF MY HEAD. My brain has taken those previous real responses and modified them all to fit everything even remotely personal or controversial that I want to write about.

HOW DO I GO BACK TO NO LONGER CARING? I don’t like that suddenly these people who don’t even really know me – have power over my voice. I don’t like that right when I’m trying to get my book of essays going that I’ve lost my confidence in my writing. I don’t like that I’m deleting things that I felt good about simply because the response weren’t all 100% positive. I don’t like that I now have this voice that says: SHUT IT ALL DOWN AND GET AN OFFICE JOB. YOU ARE NOT A WRITER.

It’s hard, y’all. I went back to therapy and I even felt my lack of confidence in there because I used to be SO GOOD AT THERAPY and suddenly I felt like I was found wanting. But that is (maybe?) another entry for another day.

I just wanted you all to know where I was at. I’m still bubbling over with topics and content like I am every day because my brain can’t let go of something until I’ve formulated into good content for public consumption…but none of that release is happening because my confidence is gone and so now it’s just like a shitshow in my brain.

Wait…now I have to go change the title of this post. And maybe the title of my book while I’m at it…

10 thoughts on “Shitshow in my brain.”

  1. Shit! That’s tough.
    Don’t know what to dat except i like reading about the shitstorm in your head. I have been reading you for 15+ years. Don’t doubt your ability you can write … You can!
    But you can’t always write about something everybody likes… Unfortunately.
    Now go write that memoir because i want to read that!

  2. I love to read your writing. You’re a writer. And one of the most thoughtful, caring ones at that. I love that you are able to empathize with all types of people. You’re strong and know where you stand, but aren’t rude to people who may disagree. It sounds to me like, for whatever reason, you are just feeling extra vulnerable right now. Maybe it’s the book writing? Maybe the political crap of the last few weeks? Or maybe something else or a combination of things? Try to cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to let it get to you sometimes, but it won’t last forever. Keep writing when you’re ready. I hope you can be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

  3. I do exactly this, so if you figure out why and how to stop doing it, please post your solutions. For the record, I would enjoy reading all of the posts about the topics you listed there.

  4. Hugs Kim!!! I’m on the opposite side of almost everything I know about you socially & politically BUT I LOVE reading your viewpoints & about your life for most of those 15 years. Hang in there friend!! I’m excited to read your book some day!

  5. So, how to fix it is ultimately between you and your therapist, but here are my observations. I think your anxiety brain and the tendency of conservatives to claim offense when marginalized groups assert their rights and needs are combining to gaslight you. I really respect how you make an effort to listen to your friends and family members who are not as progressive as you are, but your anxiety brain is short circuiting at the possibility of criticism from them. Some steps I would recommend that you work back into your thought process/mindfulness practice when these specific thoughts flare up: 1) wait, why do I hold this position in the first place? [from my perspective, most if not all of your progressive positions appear to be hard won or well researched]; 2) if the issue impacts me (as a person with a specific reproductive system) or people close to me (sexuality), remind myself that I believe it’s important to speak out on this; 3) if I hold the position because it impacts a group that I’m not part of but who have historically been marginalized by a group I’m in, and those folks are telling me they want white people to speak out, weigh whether you are really more concerned about conservative family and friends being miffed on social media, or the request of the marginalized groups to speak.

  6. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to let you know how much your writing means to me (a lot). I’ve used past posts to help explain things to people. I just… you are so talented. Don’t let the voices silence you.

  7. Kim, I’m an over thinker, as well. Long time overthinker, who decided that now I’m 60, I have no time to waste worrying about what other people think about what I’m sharing. It is literally wasting my remaining time on Earth that should be spent with my husband, my kids, my grandkids, and doing the things I most want to get done before I leave this Earth forever (too long a list to ever get done unless they invent the immortality pill before the Grim Reaper shows up.

    I listen to Brooke Castillo’s podcast about her model (which is basically a way to surface the crap thoughts that get in our way and replace them with real, believable thoughts that let us meet the goals we set for ourselves). She says our thoughts control our results, and I was desperate to figure out how to stop self sabotaging so I could get shit done.

    You’ll probably hate her at first. I was introduced via her Model video on YouTube and liked that really clean way of decluttering the overthought brain I tend to travel around with daily. I started listening to her blog, rejecting half of what she was saying. Now I can’t wait for the new episode every week (even though I still tend to disagree with her).

    But, using her model, you’d have shot down all those negative thoughts (some of them permanently) because worrying about upsetting other people will become neutral and survivable, and not something to punish yourself over.

    Also, I’ve been reading your blog a long time and you are really into punishing yourself (I do that, too), which … life is just too short. Punishing yourself will never stop you from making mistakes. You are human. Brooke’s podcasts are an interesting way to unravel this tendency and find more useful ways to evaluate your actions (past, present, and future).

    My favorite thing she has taught me about rooting out negative thoughts is that “You’re okay!” And “You’re amazing!” Are not things I can believe. I can believe “I have something to say, and it will be of value to some people.” And that’s a positive thought that keeps the negative thoughts at bay.

    In fact, before Brooke, I would *never* have written this comment to you. Or, maybe I would have, and then erased it.

  8. My dear friend, you have no idea how much I’ve learned/gained/grown from reading your posts and how I’ve shared some with others I care about. From the weirdly middle-of-the-road politically, born-and-raised-in-the-south, non-conforming engineer who loves women, KEEP WRITING!

  9. I look forward to reading your writing, and I appreciate your honesty about the things that you struggle with. Reading about your struggles and your triumphs helps me to know that my circumstances are not unique.

    I find your writing on many political issues to be cogent and well informed, and full of good resources. I’ve been able to use your points in uncomfortable political discussions in my own family. I was able to make my mom understand intersectionality and privilege, which was huge.

    Sometimes when outside negative voices amplify the ones that are already in your head, they drown out the positive voice even though that is the one you should be listening to. Please add my voice to the positive chorus.

    Also, bullet journals have changed my life, thank you for introducing them to me!

  10. Hi! I’ve been reading for a long time but haven’t commented in ages.

    I just wanted to say I’m in the middle of the book The Artist’s Way and maybe it would be something you’d be interested in too? It’s definitely big on spirituality and I’m a former Catholic who’s not so sure about God anymore myself, but I’m finding this perspective on god/universe/energy very easy to take in (so very opposite of catholic guilt). Anyway, the first chapter alone I think is SO helpful because it teaches you how to write affirmations that really get to the heart of the things that are holding you back. Basically every time you have negative self talk, you flip it around to the opposite in an affirmation, and you keep a list and use them daily. I can’t tell you how quickly I started moving through my own negative thoughts about my art, my work and my whole life and just taking action I’ve been too paralyzed to take. You mentioned your mantras of self love so I know this is something you probably already know how to do, but I find when my brain is scrambled and I need to recenter, it helps to have a guide so that I don’t have to put thought into taking care of myself, I just have to show up and follow directions. I’ve been recommending this book eeeeevery chance I get because it is so mind blowing how well it has worked.

    Whatever route you choose, I know you will move past this. Like I said, I’ve been reading for a long time, and I’ve seen you move past a lot of hard things. You can do it.

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