I’ve been having nightmares recently. They vary in content and level of scariness. There doesn’t seem to be any one consistent theme. Nor can I detect that one thing that I’m doing during the hours preceding bedtime that might be causing me to have these scary dreams. Other than the fact that I’ve experienced a variety of stressors lately, I can’t put my finger on why I’m having nightmares most every night.
But these nightmares don’t faze me at all in comparison to the haunting premonition that eases its way into my consciousness ever so often. This “nightmare” is definitely caused by one of my biggest fears: the fear of being found out.
Some days, when my sense of security is a little fragile, I worry that everyone will find out that I really am not who I claim to be. That I’m not really:
- a mom, but I’ve just been playing dolls for some 20 years now, pretending to know how to nurture my children, make decisions on their behalf, and protect them from harm. In reality, I’m just a scared little girl with way too much responsibility for my level of expertise. My children are in the process of leaving the nest now and I still don’t feel like I ever became a knowledgeable expert at this mom thing. In fact, sometimes as I watch young moms feeding their children certain foods, taking them on certain field trips, and teaching them certain things, I feel even more inept and think to myself, “Oh my, I did it all wrong!”
- a pastor’s wife, but I’m just this silly little girl that somehow ended up in this de facto leadership role in the church because I married the man I married. Make no mistake, I feel that he is every bit the pastor he is, but I just don’t know how I got to be the “first lady.” I’m no super saint and I don’t have the answers to anyone’s problems. For Pete’s sake, I don’t even know where the 5-year-old Sunday school class meets and I don’t have a key to anything!
- a writer, not a real one anyhow, but that I just aspire to be. This is actually a common phenomenon among writers, I’m told. For some reason even after you’ve been legitimately published by a legitimate publisher and you receive a legitimate check for your work, you still don’t feel like you’re a legitimate writer, an author. When I’ve been to writers’ conferences (even that doesn’t make me feel legit) the “experts” even spent a lot of time having us say those magical words out loud to ourselves, “I’m an author. I write.” Didn’t do it for me. I still fear that any day now the “real writers” are going to knock on my door, storm into my house, rip my computer from the outlet, slap a citation on my desk, and storm out yelling, “We don’t tolerate frauds!” Then one of them will do an about face, come back into my office and gather up the piles of magazines that contain my articles, tote them out the door and say snidely, “These don’t really count, you know.” It won’t matter. I never thought they did anyhow.
I don’t know if this nightmare is unique to me or if it’s something that someone out there might identify with, but I know that it has stuck with me for years. It’s similar to that feeling that you’ve never really become an adult and that you still get to think about “what I’ll be when I grow up.” But it also carries shades of simply feeling that you’re not an expert on anything.
By now shouldn’t I be an expert on something? I see 20-somethings writing books and appearing on Good Morning America touting their expertise and I wonder when I’m going to become an aficionado on anything. And make no mistake about it–this is not just a matter of humility. I’m sure it’s more insecurity than humility.
So that’s where I’m at today. I’m sitting at my computer writing the additional four devotionals my official editor assigned me so I can meet my official deadline, but I’m not feeling very official at all. I’m trying to keep the re-occurring nightmare at bay, but I’m also watching my front door and expecting the official police any time now.
Anybody out there identify at all?