Vulnerability hooks me. It calls me close. It’s a brave act. A demonstration that the thing being shared is more important than the perceived safety of holding it inside. That the thing needing to be revealed is far more important than the discomfort of revealing it. It’s a sacrifice. An unfolding. A blessing.
Vulnerability comes in all shapes and sizes, but it has one defining feature- honesty. It removes the noise. The expectations, the stories, the conditioning. It lets a person show themselves and have that truth be all that is needed.
Why is it so hard for us to be honest? To share our truth? To show ourselves? To say what we think and feel? Why is it so terrifying to reveal our sacred and authentic selves?
There’s a million reasons why, but trauma and fear of judgment are two of the biggest contributors.
I want you to see me but I don’t want you to criticize me.
I want to share with you but only if it makes you like me more.
I want to help you but not at too steep a cost to my personal self.
I want you to know what’s going on, to share in my wins as well as my heartaches, but I don’t want you to think less of me based on how things go.
June was a big month. I celebrated seven years of sobriety, turned thirty-three years old, and wrote a book. A memoir. The story of my life, unfiltered.
I completed the first (very) rough draft of the book with help. I took part in a 30-day virtual writer’s retreat hosted by my favorite trauma-informed Functional Life Coach- Mastin Kipp. Did you guys know that most successful authors do not write alone? They have help? I sure didn’t. The community that the writer’s retreat offered made all the difference. It got me through my manuscript, something I have been trying to do on my own since 2015.
Success does not happen in a vacuum. It takes a village.
June was one of the most joyous and purpose-filled months I have ever experienced. It was also brutal. There were many days and nights of complete overwhelm. I was still working full time, in fact I was busier at work than I have ever been. Wading through it all was rough. I discovered pockets of grief during my writing that I did not anticipate. I saw my own healing in a new and beautiful light.
In a little over 66,000 words I saw my own hero’s journey come to life on paper. The trauma. The suffering. The miracles. The transformation. The wholeness of it. At times I could not believe I had survived at all.
I am fairly open on here about my recovery from alcoholism and my sobriety journey. I have at a high level touched on relationship ups and downs, career wins and challenges, and endeavoring to find myself. I have tried to be vulnerable and authentic. Sometimes I am more successful at this than others.
What I do not cover as thoroughly, and what I do not like to talk about much outside of the rooms of a twelve-step meeting, is actually what is most important in my story.
The depth of the darkness that I explored in my drinking. The colorful legal ramifications I earned. The clinical depression diagnosis and the incidences of suicidal ideation that haunted me for over a decade. The complex trauma that contributed to the reasons behind my drinking. The abandonment wound created by my father’s complete absence from my life. The toxic and abusive relationships I navigated not only as a drunk, but also as a sober woman. The PTSD I experienced after the abuse was over. How powerful a triggered trauma response feels in the body, and how the body keeps a record of each of your traumas. Big and little. How difficult it is to experience romantic relationships, given my history. About falling in love for the first time in years, and the breakup that followed right as COVID hit. How painful the growth has been. How brutal the healing process. How trauma work can feel like reliving every moment of it, all over again. The hundreds of tear-filled hours spent inside the therapist’s office, liquid gushing uncontrollably from both eyes and nose.
The truth is a messy thing. And it’s the only thing that I’m particularly interested in.
Liz Gilbert wrote “…at some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”
I am a woman who has become tired of being ashamed all the time. Of her own inner critic. Of her own fears. Sometimes I am just so sick and tired of me. Still, I keep going. I love myself harder. I lean in all the more.
I think we all face this. Shame. Getting tired of ourselves. I am not unique. I am not alone. There’s not a person on this earth who hasn’t dealt with shame. To be human is to feel, and sometimes that feeling is shame. My shame is far outweighed by my drive to become as unapologetically myself as possible.
As one of my favorite spiritual teachers always tells me: it’s a practice and a process.
I need to say the following much more for myself than for you, so please bear with me.
I reserve the right to choose differently. To change my mind. To fail. To take a different path. To leave that path. To go back to that path. To evolve. To continue to become. Different. Less. More.
I need to be able to just be me and to tell you what that means. Today. In this moment right now. It may change later. I might go back. I might step forward and then decide I’d rather be doing what I was just doing five minutes ago. I need to allow myself this grace.
It’s my wish that we give each other a little bit more grace and a little bit more room to do whatever we damn well please. We will take the lessons as they come. Straightforward and on the chin. That is what this life is for. I want to be okay with owning the darkness as much as the light. I want to explore where I am without feeling like it always has to contribute to something. To build up to some conditional external condition. To build up to a climax that goes something like “and then she met her husband, so it all worked out”. As though a marriage is somehow an indicator of successful healing.
My relationship status does not reflect my worth, how far I have come, or how “healed” I am. Repeat to self times three. I am just as guilty as anyone for measuring another’s success this way.
Something fantastic I’ve learned about myself is that the more I heal, the more I discover, the more I uncondition myself, the more I unpack, the more I unravel, the deeper I get, the less I care about the outside circumstantial garbage. The less I care about the materialistic and the physical. You know, the stuff.
I used to be all about goals and productivity, making money and career progression, having nice things and owning a home, and having the husband and the two kids. A lot of these things I have done while some are still an intention waiting to manifest. These accomplishments are what I’ve been taught to care about, conditioned since birth to achieve, and judged for having or not having. It’s how my worth has been stacked up against my peers.
It’s all noise. A horrible racket. Because it’s not MY story. It’s not what I want in my deepest heart of hearts. Or maybe it is. I’m still figuring it out. What I want changes, and it changes often. I want all of it and I want none of it.
I want the time and grace to live it all out. To chase what I want to chase. To abandon dreams that don’t work for me anymore. To go back and a pick up those same dreams if and when I see fit. To change direction. To follow my Soul’s calling. To love better than I ever have before.
This mess, my messy truth, is where the magic is.
I want to share with you, that today, I love where I am. When I first opened my eyes this morning I was filled with an almost debilitating depression. This uneasiness deep inside of me surges up every now and then, and episodes are much less frequent than they used to be. Waking up like this is a rare occasion these days, and that in itself is a victory. So there I was this morning, filled with an unwillingness to carry on with the day’s requirements. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and hide. From what, I am not sure. I felt these horrible, icky feelings and picked myself up out of bed. I poured a huge cup of coffee and a giant glass of water, wrote an appreciation letter about everything I am grateful for, read a couple morning devotionals, prayed, meditated, and did some guided tapping exercises to ease the heaviness. Then I sat down at my desk and got to work.
Twelve hours later, I am a different woman. Today can be hard and it can also be empowering. It’s allowed. What a difference a few hours- and some caffeine- can make.
Everything always passes. It always gets better.
Here’s to truth, to grace, and to drawing a circle around ourselves and declaring everything inside of it as sacred. Just as we are, wherever we are.