Confession No. 1.
Dear fierce ones,
I have heard from many of you lamenting the fact that I have not written in awhile and thank-you so much for missing me. I have missed YOU too.
I have had my hands and heart full. Full of struggle to balance all of the things in my life. All the dreams I am trying to make come true. All the heartache of my past brought to the present time. All the “daily grind” issues of work and kids and the garden. I have needed some time to process, to rest a little, prioritize and figure things out. I have also been avoiding writing because…confession No. 1
Writing makes me feel vulnerable and I have not found it easy to be vulnerable in my life.
In my writings, I share intimate parts of myself. This opens me up to ridicule, judgement, and criticism. I struggle with the weight of it. How much to share? Why am I sharing? What is my motivation? What is my point? Why write at all?
My deepest passion for writing stems from a desire to help people achieve healthy relationships and a healthy mind-set. Relationships are my love language because I am heart-centered. I try to take into account how everything I say will impact everyone. The challenge for me is that I have no control over the reactions and responses to what I write about. When I start to worry about it…fear sets in… and suddenly I am paralyzed, overwhelmed, panicked and survival mode sets in. Most of my life, I have been battling ANXIETY. STRESS. PANIC. All very familiar to me…until once again I reach my tipping point and I consciously choose not to live in survival-mode. (Great book by the way…The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell)
It has been over a year since I remarried. There have been major challenges that we have faced as a couple and as a family. We have had all manner of stress. (like everyone does) and it has been INTOLERABLE at times.
Parenting is NOT easy.
Marriage is NOT easy.
I have never been so fierce in all my life!
It has been the difficult conversations and challenging experiences that have bonded us together as a family and couple. The moments that have threatened to rip us apart. The moments of deep and raw emotion that have overwhelmed and sent us into survival mode and we have needed to fight our way back to love. The moments where our hearts have been wounded and we battled fiercely over boundaries and values as a newly blended family. The times where we made the conscious choice to swallow our pride and replace our habits of fear and self-protection for ones of courage and vulnerability. It is an ongoing practice.
We have both worked hard on forming new habits. The old habits of self-protective armor are eager to present themselves. It takes conscious effort and self-awareness to exchange the armor for the nakedness of vulnerability. It takes practice to embrace our problems as opportunities to grow instead of denying them, ignoring them, excusing them or blaming someone else for them.
It has been REAL.
It has been HARD.
It has been AMAZING.
Our willingness to be REAL with each other has created intimacy that has been unparalleled in my life.
and by REAL…
I mean vulnerable.
I mean honest.
I mean screaming at the top of my lungs when things happen that are NOT ok!
I mean standing up for myself, our family, and our marriage.
I mean establishing clear boundaries.
I mean the kind of clear communication that leaves no room for games and misunderstandings and pride.
True intimacy and authenticity.
To know and to be known.
To accept and be accepted.
To love and to be loved.
It takes a lot of courage.
Willingness to take a stand for who you are. Your values. Your feelings. Your passions. What matters to you. What means the most.
It is a journey that leads to wholeness.
I had to change my old habits of putting on self-protective armor and resisting vulnerability because I viewed it as some sort of failure or weakness. I had to realize that the worst had already happened and there was nothing left to lose. In other words… you cannot lose what you don’t have.
If you love not…you have not love.
All my life we moved around a lot and I was constantly the “new girl”. As I got older…all the cliques were already formed. When I was 14 years old, we moved back to Canada from Haiti where we had spent a couple of years living as missionaries. I was totally out of the loop of what was “popular”. I felt like an alien. A stranger in a strange land except that it was “home”. I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Until recently, I admit that I have felt that way most of my life.
I wanted friends.
A BEST friend.
SOMEONE to love.
SOMEONE to love me back.
It was all I really wanted.
To love… and to be loved.
To know… and to be known.
I craved it.
I needed it.
AND…it was HARD to find. At that age everybody already had a “Bestie”.
I turned to boys.
I laugh about this confession now, but when I was young…
I literally prayed and begged God…”Please don’t let me die before I get to have sex” For some reason I felt like that would be the greatest tragedy EVER. I had a fear of dying young…before I could do “all the things” I wanted to do, and sex was top on my bucket list even as a young girl.
My first time having sex turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of my life.
I felt very betrayed. I had expected something very different. It felt like such a sham.
I was 15 years old and I was completely unprepared. I knew virtually nothing about sex except that it was going to be…THE BEST THING EVER.
I was an innocent idiot.
I expected it to be so much MORE. It was literally over in seconds. I was SO DISAPPOINTED…like…WTF?!! That was ALL? That was IT?
I cannot even tell you how SHOCKED I was.
PLUS… I grew up with Christian values. Therefore…heaped upon the disappointing experience was…
All those feelings.
I knew I had made a huge mistake and that I felt miserable and then things got even WORSE. I don’t know about you, but I always “get caught” whenever I do something “bad”. Therefore… in addition to the awful disappointment of the sexual experience itself…I experienced public humiliation and shame because I got suspended from school.
Yes, I actually got suspended from school for having sex.
I went to a private Christian school, and my explicit note describing the incident in full detail…was found and read by a well-meaning, well-intentioned teacher.
My parents were called and they had a “meeting” about my scandalous behavior. I got suspended from school and EVERYONE KNEW! I was publicly humiliated and shamed and no one wanted to let their “perfect daughters” hang out with such a “bad girl”. OMG. It was bad. The burning shame. Even today (over 30 years later) I can still feel how shameful that entire ordeal was for me.
I was longing for something desperately. In one sense I was longing for sex because I was a teenager and HORMONES…but truthfully…I just wanted intimacy. We all want it actually. We all need it and yet culturally we aren’t supposed to admit that. When it comes to intimacy…many of us don’t know what we are doing. We lack experience and we don’t have the skills. We make mistakes and experience failure and shame and then guilt and judgement…it becomes a hot mess of emotional pain.
Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that courage and vulnerability are necessary in order to experience true intimacy. It has taken years of soul searching, studying many self-help books, and lots of practicing vulnerability to have the kind of intimate relationship I now have.
In my previous life…I refused vulnerability. It terrified me. Layers of self-protective armor had me so shielded and “safe” I was crushed by the weight of it. My marriage failed.
It feels intensely risky.
Like you might lose everything.
Like all your hopes and dreams might crumble into dust.
That is the feeling of vulnerability.
But know this..
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brene’ Brown
It is worth the risk.
Sharing my heart with you has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I am so grateful to have found the courage to share my heartaches and my joys with you. I hope you find the courage to become vulnerable and find the true intimacy you crave.
You are worth it.
You are responsible for your habits. If they aren’t working for you…you are working for them.
You are responsible for your happiness. No one else.
Love yourself. Properly. Completely. Without reservation. NO negative self-talk. None. ZERO. Zip.
Practice vulnerability. It doesn’t make you weak or needy…it sets you free.
Examples of vulnerability:
Admitting what you like and don’t like.
Holding yourself accountable to your values.
Getting clear with others about your expectations and needs and wants and desires. Your goals. Your dreams. Your pet-peeves.
Talking about the deal-breakers within a relationship.
Refusing to bullshit each other. Having difficult conversations. Talking about what bothers you. Openly. This one makes my heart pound, my palms drip sweat, and my throat constrict so tight that it is hard to talk…it comes out like a whisper.
Instead of expecting that he or she “should know better”…ask them to please stop doing that thing that really hurts your feelings, or bothers you, or makes you feel resentful. Don’t discuss it with “other people” instead of “your” person. Talking about people rather than to them is unkind. I was so guilty of this in my first marriage…for me…everything was always fine and that was such bullshit…I couldn’t stand to admit my feelings were hurt, so I would just find a way to manage my feelings and never communicate the truth.
Communicating in a clear and respectful way. Ok, I admit I have called Avery an asshole (rarely) and so my next point definitely applies to me.
Admitting when you are wrong. Saying “I’m sorry.” Taking ownership of your shitty behavior. Stop making excuses. Stop blaming. Don’t call names.
Accepting yourself and loving yourself. More and more…choose your best self and be that person!
Setting boundaries by being clear about your expectations and standing up for yourself. Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.
Giving yourself permission to admit you have needs.
Asking for help. This has been a hard one for me.
Letting go of the past. This is a daily practice.
Going to therapy/counseling.
Reading self-help books. My personal favorite…I can’t get enough! I am unquenchable in my thirst!
Working on yourself. Also a daily practice
Much love to you dear fierce ones…
Find your fierce.
Take the journey.
Here is a link to a full article on vulnerability by Brene’ Brown http://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=2158