It’s been so long since I needed to be here, on naked on paper, crying and screaming. I wanted this domain to be a place where anyone could come and be vulnerable. Where people could say the things that otherwise never got said, where someone would listen.
I never intended this to be the place where I laid my broken down and cried at it’s ashes, mourn it’s questions that never have answers and watch the circle of my shame and guilt go round and round.
But looking through the archives it’s really interesting – that years into this site, I’m still at the beginning of so much of this pain. And yet, I’m so far from it. Removed.
I read recently that as a writer, we don’t block ourselves (writers block) we just choose not to give into our voice. Or to recognize it.
I thought that was profound and beautiful. How we can blame not wanting to tell our story, be it scary or new or old and worn out, on “being stuck” when that’s not the case … we’re never stuck, we already know the way our story goes … at least up until right now. When we’re writing through the pain of the past – it doesn’t change.
But maybe it’s changed us, and maybe that’s what I can’t say out loud.
Why does it feel like I’m so behind when I’m so set on the forward movement of living right now? Why can’t I stop staring in the rearview mirror looking for all the wrong turns in reverse so I can make surefooted directional choices on the GPS of my future? I’m so transparent I’m invisible some days. I’m open to a fault behind the safe places of a screen and in person I’m a vault of pretend happiness and passion.
I’m not the only one, I’m told. This is more normal than I’m lead to believe – but why does talking about it never make it easier? Never make it go away? And why, when I am brave enough to talk about it face to face, am I more of a gawking mess of responses from the conversational counterpart?
I don’t know. I don’t get it.
Hiatus. Retreat. Hiding.
It’s easier to stay silent when the only thing I have left to say is the same phrase I’ve cried over for the past year.
Renegotiation. This is where life is. Renegotiating the expectations of what I thought and what reality is really like. A family that’s so fucked up and such a burden, how do I renegotiate those relationships? How do I go about teaching my own children to love each other when I can’t give them a model for what that really looks like?
I was seven, eight, nine, when shit hit the fan in my reality as a young child. Now my own child is seven, soon eight – then nine. We’re in the middle of the physiological battle field I was never armed for, yet dropped on the front lines of it wrapped in my infancy, sucking my thumb through the grenades, and wide-eyed watching as limbs landed, bleeding, at my feet. For years.
I have happy things to write about, I do. I have happiness in my life. Joy and peace, reconciliation. I have so many things to be thankful for – but when I come here to write all I can do is bleed this anger out …. so I can stop infecting my own blood with it. So I don’t lose my limbs. self. Again.
Sure, it’s embarrassing and vulnerable. I feel badly about how bogged down I am in this. I feel hurt that I can’t forgive or get over this. I feel really alone, mostly. In short, I’m feeling all kinds of things and don’t dare to trust the other side of them.
I’m currently thick in the thrill of protecting myself. People leave me, this is a truth I know, so when the clock rolls around to “abandonment ahead” I shut down and build walls and close all kinds of doors.
The latest trigger wasn’t the threat of being left, it was the reminder that I still wasn’t found. That I was walking around in the empty relationship, that all this progress I thought was being made was really just more smoke and mirrors.
And it brought havoc on all kinds of places for me. I was waking up every night and throwing up, I wasn’t eating, I was nauseous all the time. I was going through the motions of my day and locking all the doors because I was so afraid. There was a morning, in particular, where I was in my car driving and I was screaming at the top of my lungs and recklessly looking for a place to impact my life in SOME OTHER WAY than it’s current situation. A tree would have worked.
So I’m angry. I’m resentful and bitter and I’ve been going to sleep in those emotions for years.
And slowly, like waking from an induced slumber, the hate is fading. The hurt remains, but that’s where forgiveness comes in … a concept I am desperately trying to grasp.
For all kinds of reasons, people, relationships, circumstances. And for me.
Forgiving doesn’t mean that nothing happened. It’s not a jail-free pass to collect $200 at home and continue on. It’s just peace. And understanding.
Engineer staying small, staying under the radar
Vulnerability hang over
Vulnerability as a weakness – this myth is profoundly dangerous
Vulnerability is emotional risk – exposure, uncertainty.
It is our most accurate measurement of courage. To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change. To create is to make something that has never existed before. We have to talk about shame.
You gotta dance with the one who brung ya.
Shame – the swamp land of the soul. Put on some galoshes and walk through and find your way around.
TED – the failure conference. Because very few people here are afraid to fail.
When we walk in and look at shame – the critic is us. You’re never good enough and who do you think you are.
Shame is I am bad, guilt is I did something bad.
Shame is highly correlated with addiction, aggression and depression … so on.
Guilt is inversely correlated with those things. It’s uncomfortable but it’s adaptive.
It’s organized by gender. It feels the same for men and women but it’s organized by gender. For women it’s this web of unattainable and conflicting expectations of what we’re supposed to be.
When we reach out and be vulnerable – we get the shit beat out of us. (Men) The women in my life are harder on me than anyone else. (Men)
Shame is an epidemic in our culture and to get out from underneath it – to find our way back to each other, we have to understand the way if affects us.
Empathy is the antidote to shame.
When we’re in struggle, the two most powerful words are “Me too”
If you have 20ish minutes and are at all interested in the subject of vulnerability and/or shame – I highly recommend giving this a watch. I haven’t seen her first TED talk yet, but it’s on my list.
Here’s what’s profound for me: where I carry my shame is quite silly when I say it out loud, but it’s been the loudest voice in my life to date, and it’s not just nagging me, it’s fucking yelling at me – the noise is so loud I can’t see straight.
I create a lot of rules about my life because of this shame, because of a lot of guilt and shame that was thrust upon me in “morals” and “values” before I knew better … and now I’m retracing my steps and relearning what appropriate accusations really look like. Beauty of it? Most of the time, the accusations against ourselves are up to us.
The power of our voice.
The perfectionism and the obvious downfall of never meeting the mark, that’s nobodies problem but my own but I keep looking for a place to plant it.
Where will my seed of regret/indecision/bad choices/anger/bitterness grow faster? In which soil can I dip my toes and get the life sucked out of my freedom?
I’ve decided I don’t need to keep naming my shame. I don’t need to keep telling people all about it. In horid detail. And it’s not just one thing, it’s mostly an image of myself that I have to keep erasing and repainting. No one needs to know, in fact, no one really cares.
Empathy isn’t gossip, it’s realizing that whatever we bring to the table is what made us who we are today. Good and bad. Both sides of your very rusty coin count. Negotiating for an initiation isn’t a friendship, that’s a bargain with the devil.
I live in a town where no one talks about their shame. Or their guilt. But we’re all guilty. Stay at home mom’s are barely surviving and yet we hide on facebook and portray life like it’s baking a pie and playing with playdough. Marriages are falling apart and yet, people step across their threshold and wave at the neighbors pretending like they just made love. People who made the wrong choice or decision are faced with the halting reality that this is it, daily, and yet we all smile at the coffee shop, shake hands and ask about each other’s kids or hobbies or business.
It’s shocking when someone finally stops painting with pastels and brings out the primary colors. Sharp with color and depth. When someone mixes the brown and green. When we’re painting these beautiful images with brushes that only know how to hold the murky alliance of earth’s muddy waters.
Like slowing down to see the wreckage of a car crash – when the stepford wife image holds a chink, instead of rallying around one another – we gape at the holes in the armor and offer these words …
“I’m praying for you.”
And genuinely, those words are healing, but generally? They’re assaulting.
I haven’t found the watering hole that fits me just yet, but I have found the people who I would invite to join me and I hope I keep finding them, that these jewels of souls just keep arriving in my life.
My family has disappointed me. I’ve never said that really. Just eluded to it, stepped on the egg-shells around it, ran away from it, reintegrated (while giving in or giving up) and finally; I’ve come to realize that blood is just bright red when we’re cut. The sutures and stitches that build a family don’t knit together flesh or DNA.
My version of our family is entirely different than most of it’s original members – I experienced the least of my nuclear family, before divorce. But I fully experienced the aftermath of that divorce, like being forced to watch a rape: I sat wide eyed through the familial torture as a witness to certain degrees of hell.
And that? Fucked my shit up.
You see this put together life, a wife, a house, some kids. You see a successful husband and a budding writer’s career. You see talent. You might even see happiness.
I see all signs pointing to failure.
I came from bad ergo I am bad.
Bad is: deceit, adultery, greed, theft, lying, sex, anger, righteousness, choices, women, lack of cleanliness, your own body, being unattractive ……
But please, for all intents and purposes, abide by these rules (or else) and keep your motherfucking mouth shut when something surfaces that would paint any of us in a less than desirable light.
You’re hurt? You need to deal with some of what I did to you?
Here, let me kick the shit out of you first, show you where my allegiance lies, and then offer to patch it up for you. In the name of JesusChrist, Amen.You don’t belong here, you’re not one of us, you can’t hide like we can, you’re not pretending well enough. Your version of fantasy is too close to reality. Wait, you don’t live in a fantasy life? An alternate reality where none of this happened? YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT YOU LIVE INSIDE OF EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED?
Why is that I’m always the one who’s shocked by their response?
Want to know all I ever wanted?
All I wanted was to be like you. So that maybe, if you noticed me, you’d actually like me. That maybe you’d finally want me, too.
So there’s my shame: I’m unwanted. I’m not enough. I’m invisible. I’m not worth the work to love.
And I’ve made every single decision, to this day, with those glasses on.
This is where I’m going to put all my insecurity.
This space, this domain, because I can’t handle it otherwise.
I will be honest and true, an open book, as I always have been
and I’ll stop hiding and I’ll start obeying the prompt
to live in this light, this place of grace for myself
if I can just put my shame on the shelf somewhere else
Because even though I hate it and it’s slimy little fingers
of thorns, it’s all I’ve ever known. A security blanket
of emotional wreckage. The place I’ve always been able to go
and rest and know, through all the ugly, that at least
the reflection was my own.
The wicked little voice wasn’t someone else
screaming at me – I played a part in this mess
I’ve made of life. A very big one. And here I am, owning it.