Writing and speaking truth

humanity. love. respect.We’re a week into the Mondo Beyondo Winter Dream Lab on The Gifts of Imperfection. Though it’s early days, I’m certain that it’s perfectly timed to keep me moving forward, doing the hard work I need to do.

As promised, I’m checking in and exploring some of the ideas and concepts we’re discussing and thinking about in the course. One that hit close to home for me as I read Brené’s book The Gifts of Imperfection and when Jen, Brené and Andrea introduced it as part of the course is the power of being brave and speaking your truth.

It’s an idea that I’ve struggled with throughout the evolution of Coffees & Commutes and on my personal journey of self-discovery as I share it here. In this place, I often write about feelings and emotions that I don’t otherwise talk about in my offline life.

I write about it. And sometimes when I do, I worry about writing it.

I’ve always considered myself to be honest and open by nature. But in the last year, I’ve realized that I’m not as comfortable talking about my feelings as I thought I once was. It’s hard to share your worries and fears when you are slugging through mud thick with insecurity, to confess your vulnerabilities even with the people who are closest to you. I think that I believed that speaking it would make it more real and leave me open to judgment, judgment I couldn’t afford because I was too busy criticizing myself.

When I first confessed my battle with depression, I went through the motions of letting those in my real life know. Even my closest girlfriend was surprised. She felt it had come out of the blue and told me that from her perspective I had my life completely together, that I was doing a good job.

Though I appreciated the sentiment and words of support that were intended to bolster my confidence, it confirmed to me just how sucked under I was. I had spent months internalizing my grief and lack of self worth. It had welled inside of me cloaking my chest in a heavy, grey blanket. I would cry all the way to work and then home again. I had reached the point when there were days that I even cried at work. Secure in my home I would sit and stare. I could not muster the energy to do the simplest of tasks. Everything was a chore, and everyday living overwhelmed me. I wasn’t sleeping, and most nights I spent hours tossing and turning. I dreaded time alone with my children, so much that I did whatever I could to avoid it. Just writing about it makes my heart race in fear. The memory is painful and acute.

Brené defines shame as:

The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

She says that we’ve lost touch with the power of speaking honestly and openly about who we are and how we feel, suggesting that “ordinary courage is putting our vulnerability on the line.”

When I read that, I cried. I cried because I felt like someone who understood where I was coming from was giving me permission to be honest. To share. To fully explore my feelings with myself and all of you. That maybe, for once, I was doing it right. And it was okay.

For almost a year, I’ve been opening myself up to virtual strangers, writing words that sometimes leave me feeling vulnerable. And though it doesn’t always sit comfortably, I keep doing it. I do it because it provides an outlet to fully explore and release my thoughts. I do it because I enjoy your comments, your ideas, your support. I do it because of the sense of community that comes from getting to know each other, from becoming friends. And I do it because so many of you have said here and through private e-mails that you identify with my struggle. I hope my journey can be an olive branch to someone else when they need it.

But most importantly I do it for me. I do it because it forces me to be honest with myself.  And by putting it in black and white I’m more likely to follow through. This blog holds me accountable—and that is exactly what I need.

Brené says:

Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy.

I think she’s right. There is power in words. There is power in sharing. There is power in community. I believe this more and more everyday

Image: ‘humanity. love. respect.‘ via Creative Commons license.
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21 thoughts on “Writing and speaking truth

  1. Leslie says:

    Let’s hear it for a great reason to be shameless!

  2. Christa says:

    Bravo! It takes a lot to write about what is in your heart, but there is a lot to be gained from it, too.

    Do it for you, then let the rest of us do with it what we will. Thanks for letting us walk with you…

  3. katrina says:

    i can certainly identify – particularly with the reactions when sharing your depression. i had several friends who commented that “everyone has a touch of depression sometime in their life.” A touch? i wanted to throw my celexa bottle at them. Keep writing. Keep sharing. i appreciate you!

  4. Lindsey says:

    I agree entirely. And I respect and honor your journey, and the way you share it with us here.
    Thank you for everything
    xo

  5. Rebecca says:

    You are very right: there is power in community. But when we are dealing with shame, it becomes too difficult to connect because we expect to be rejected. I think blogging is like practice sometimes, to practice sharing all these things and then practice saying them to the people in our lives. Your posts always leave me thinking, thank you.

  6. Devon says:

    I agree in what you suggest here about the power of story of verbalizing and making visible those things we’re scared to admit, to say aloud. And in sharing those deep soul stirrings, I’m constantly surprised at the amount of support and sense of community I feel from women who in any other terms would be complete strangers.

    Thanks for reminding me about the impact of what we write and say as I’m working on a post about some things with which I’m struggling, a post that had been sitting in my drafts for a few days.

  7. Amber says:

    I’m really glad you share your journey online. And I believe that last quote you shared wholeheartedly. There is tremendous power in giving voice and sharing. I’ve felt it myself. It’s scary, and hard, but very worthwhile.

  8. I for one absolutely love that you’re talking about all of this–your journey truly is validating. I’m learning through you, too, and I’m so grateful. I’ve gone looking for Brene Brown’s book but the small bookstore in my small town doesn’t have it. I think it’s time to order it online.

    The quotes about shame reminded me of when I stopped drinking and started telling…a friend said, in an email–shame is like mold. It grows quickly in the dark, but cannot survive in the light. (and I paraphrase because I can’t remember exactly) 🙂

  9. Chantal says:

    Thank you for sharing Christine.

  10. Heather of the EO shared a video of Brene’s with me and I found it so brave and so moving. It’s very hard to show our soft and flawed underbellies; I’m grappling with it, too. If you ever want to talk about how difficult it is to talk about this stuff, I’m here! 🙂 xo

  11. Justine says:

    Christine, I think while it’s scary to show our “flawed selves” here, it’s also liberating and also a great way to realize that you’re absolutely not alone in this. I’ve found solace in the blogosphere by sharing things I normally wouldn’t even with my own friends and not only that, it has given my fears and insecurities a voice. That, I believe, is the first step in confronting them and perhaps overcoming them in the end.

    However, having said that, there are still things in my life I’m grappling with at this point that I am unable to talk about on my blog, and it has affected my writing quite a bit. When something is consuming me and I’m not able to bring it to light, I find my words inauthentic. Yet I don’t know if I’m ever able to write about it.

    It’s a constant struggle these days, but I’m just glad that you were able to open up on your site. It has inspired me to be stronger and braver. And more accepting of my own life – imperfections and all. Thank you.

  12. That first quote hit me right in the gut. I’ve been struggling with overwhelming emotions lately, due to pregnancy hormones I imagine. I’ve been internalizing it all, until recently when I opened up to my husband. I hate feeling less than perfect. Like I’m not in control. It does make me feel like I’m unworthy. It’s a terrible feeling. But it’s also an amazing feeling once you finally let go and open it. It’s freeing and gives you the chance to move on.

    Wonderful post.

  13. Sweetyflagia says:

    Hi^^
    Nice one^i think most people experiencing that ..You write so well…I loev reading your post because i can see a beautiful soul in it..^keep it up

  14. I like the idea that we can defeat shame by sharing our truth and showing our real, vulnerable selves. Like you, I have found writing to be profoundly healing, but sharing, particularly in a public, online forum, can feel risky as well. Yet it is wonderful to offer and receive comments, and to know that we are not alone. I feel like the courageous path involves opening up and taking risks, which is scary but ultimately so empowering.

  15. denise says:

    Oh, so many truths here. I continue to learn that lesson–that secrets only have power over us if they are kept secret. And the intertwining of shame that you explore is so very powerful. Thank you for your beautiful words and for sharing your truth. xoxo

  16. Kelly says:

    Oh lady. You bring forth so many truths here. I had a moment earlier today that clarifies what you mean by pouring your soul into your blog because it feels safer than pouring it into the people in your offline life. No one wants to fight over their truth or be called out or asked to justify their feelings.

    Sharing, here in the ether, brings support and community. Sharing, there in your life, can bring anger and hostility. You get to the heart of it though. Shame. Shame rules too many people and too many lives. I am so grateful that so many of us refuse to keep its secrets.

  17. […] acceptance of life’s everyday gifts, packaged in unassuming wrapping. And about Grace. And Christine’s constantly inspiring posts about her journey through depression. Like a warm hand, slowly and […]

  18. […] A year ago I retired to my bed. I was exhausted and spent. For a while it provided the cocoon from which to lick my wounds and  gather the self-acceptance I needed to begin to once  again to live my life. Over the long winter months I wrote and wrote of the pain and the darkness. I made changes in my life, important changes. I started to meditate and found a sense of serenity I had not known before. I questioned myself, every little piece of myself. I was raw, but I pushed through and let myself be vulnerable. […]

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