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.
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.