Saturday, September 03, 2011

Then I realized I wasn't alone

A product of this past year in my life is a new honesty.  I have always considered myself an honest person, but there is a gray area where I did not lie, I simply withheld...myself.  One of my huge moments of discovery came after I spent time and prayer wondering and searching for why I was not reclaiming my joy and peace.

I could see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but I was still, well, heartbroken.  I was still pulling further and further away from everyone in my life.  It took a simple phrase from a guy at church, a guy who I love like a kid brother.  A guy who, when I helped with his and his brother's weddings, people thought I was their sister.  (Okay--it helps that we look like we could be related!)  I walked into church and Dan looked me in the eye, grinned his easygoing grin, and said, "Hey! How are ya doing?"

In the face of his honest kindness I suddenly understood what was wrong with me, why I was not healing, and I could not call forth the fake smile of false peace.  I stopped abruptly, mumbled something that was probably incoherent and I left.  I walked right out of the church, barely managing to make it outside before I broke down sobbing.

Stumbling, dropping keys, eyes burning, I was running away from the truth of my realization.  I'm not one to make a scene in church and I thought I had managed to not attract attention, but Dan's wife Tasha and sister-in-law Kathleen had followed me.  In the midst their soothing, loving words I just lost it further.  "I just can't do it.  I can't pretend anymore that nothing is wrong."  Then Barry was there, holding me and I told him, "I've figured it out and I feel horrible."

There are many people that would have been there for us.  People who would have loved us and supported us through all the hurtful, ugly events, but we did not let them. It was not a need for the appearance of perfection, it was the weight of the expectations of others and pride. 


The need to not disappoint, the need to not embarrass others by the rawness of our pain, the ugliness of our messes.  These needs were a slow death to the spirit.  A ripping of the soul.  A wearing down of the body.  Messy pride was smeared all over it too.  Because I did not want to disappoint.  I wanted approval because approval was love to me.   

Sometimes revelation is a balm and a beautiful gift of clarity but sometimes it is the taking away of a crutch.  All I could see and feel at that moment is my brokenness and the rawness of my hurt.  In that moment another fear was revealed.  What if I was a messy, ugly disappointment?  What if this meant I was not loveable.  I know.  I can see how convoluted my logic was but I was finally being honest.

Even though all the problems were not about me, even though I was not at liberty to share some things with others I could have said, "This is hard.  We need help.  We need prayer.  I need help.  I need prayer.  I need someone to walk alongside me because I do not know if I can take this much longer."  Instead I had just shared spilled out moments.  Little bits of crazy when I could not pull the seams together tight enough.

Since then I have felt bolder, more honest, more authentic.  I am not afraid to disappoint others because I realize their love for me does not depend on my having it together.  It helped to realize that others could love me like I loved them.  That the daughter I feared for loved me even if I was not the best mom.  That my husband who I loved, who had hurt me, but I now loved with a deeper authenticity, could love me as honestly.

Today I found a blogger that crystallized how I want to live, and love, and write, in words that could have come from my own heart.  I realized I was not alone.  On her sidebar was a badge that said, "I choose authenticity."  I clicked it.  As I read the opened page I felt a bubbling excitement and a little remaining fear niggling at me.  There was a movement of like-hearted people.  People who were tired of sharing only half their heart because of fear.  People who had also realized that, "Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite Grace, Joy, and Gratitude into our lives." Bren√© Brown, Ph.D.

Then I realized that my most recent posts were not a phase that I needed to work through until I got my junk together again, they were the truest things I had ever written.  They are authentic because they show the good and the bad.  They are honest because I am not trying to impress anyone or gain approval because I am handy, or smart, or talented in some way.

When I write it here I make it more real.  I set a standard for myself, a standard of authenticity.  I have a living reminder of my failures and the fact that they matter much less than I believed. I have a living reminder that I am worth loving.  I have a living reminder that it is okay to mess up and get up and try again.  Why living?  Because I am sharing myself.  I am making myself vulnerable and in doing that these truths are made concrete in my life by friends and family.  These truths are made real by people who say, "I understand" or "I have felt the same way."  They are made especially real by people who say, "I love you!" even after I peel off the bandage and show them the ugly raw mess of me.       


Lana said...

that's good - 'the weight of expectations'... and 'pride smeared over all'. but.... but what about when you've tried authenticity and been burned for it. when you have durned good reasons not to trust people? i hardly blog anymore about anything really important - been there, done that, have the scars on my heart to (not) show for it.
i know i am not genuine to most people, and i hardly care anymore. most people don't care to know the real me, so why should i let them? and how much to tell? and it backfires. wellmeaning people gossip, or they share stories not meant to be shared, sometimes they turn things back against you later. I do not know how to trust people in general, or even if i should.
although, i did confide in a friend recently, explaining why i hadn't been talking to her lately, that i just didn't feel like talking to anyone, and she admonished me gently, 'i would have been praying'. and... i know that, i deserved to be 'fussed at'. and i can trust her (i think, but sometimes i think i can't trust anyone in the world) to not be judgemental, to be understanding and loving. and maybe it shouldn't matter if she WOULD be judgemental - do you think it is wrong to care that people are judgemental, or gossip about you? i am not brave. i don't know if i even want to be that brave. ...your post is beautiful and i think i need to have this epiphany you had, but... i do not know how to actually be ME... i can read this, but i do not know how to change, or even how to really want to.
we wear the mask. (
thanks for the food for thought, sorry for the ramble, though obviously not sorry enough to delete it ;)

Shawna said...

I don't have an answer for everything, but you feeling like you could post that is reason for me to be authentic. Just knowing that someone else is afraid makes it worth it for me. I was very tender hearted when I was younger and was hurt-- a lot--and at some point I realized I was becoming a little jaded. So I prayed. And sometimes it was the only prayer I could muster, "Lord, please soften my heart." But the journey between the young me and the painfully honest me seems longer than the physical years. I think it is harder being a tender, compassionate person, harder to let yourself "be" simply because you feel everything. I'll be praying for you and I want to think more on what you said, but I think you are amazing and brilliant and lovely. Love you girl!

 Cha said...

It's hard to put yourself out there and dare to let people love you and your family for who you are and what you've been through. To put your heart out there. So I'm more careful now. People can be so judgmental. People who have no idea... I share our struggles with those who are facing similar struggles because I know I would've liked to know that everyone doesn't have it together, they just LOOK like they do. I waver back and forth between sharing my heart and over-guarding it. Through my tears, David has heard me say more than once that I would rather be tenderhearted than have a heart of stone. We are all a work in progress, but some don't seem to know it.