Earlier this Spring, I decided to take a break for a few days and join my parents while they were on their annual two week vacation in Mexico. Two important things happened while I was there:
- My parents told me a story about something I said when I was a toddler that changed my perspective
- I read Brene Brown’s legendary life-changing book, Daring Greatly
First, let’s talk about this story. When you find yourself alone with your parents for a matter of days and the only thing to do is read books and drink margaritas, you wind up having some pretty interesting conversations. Over drinks on the patio one afternoon, we were discussing how my extremely strong-willed daughter refuses to eat anything but apples and mac and cheese. “Oh she’s just like her mother!”, my mom said. “When you were two and I tried to make you eat something, I would say ‘Come on, try it. It’s good!’ and you would say, ‘Good for you. Not for me.'”. Hmm……. Interesting concept.
I mulled over that phrase quite a bit for the rest of my vacation, particularly as I thought about the Blog I wanted to start, how my marriage was about to end and how this might all potentially come together. Mostly I thought about the critics; those people who I could immediately pin point in my mind who would see me opening myself up to the world in the midst of such a turbulent time and say, “Why in God’s name is she doing this?” “Who does she think she is, no one cares.” Or “How can she talk publicly about such a private matter?”. Trust me. I have considered it all. And while that normally would have deterred me from starting this blog or ever talking openly and publicly about my divorce, this time something was different. Everything in the universe was pointing me to get out there. All I could think about saying to these critics was, “Good for you. Not for me.”.
You see – I understand why people are afraid to come open about their lives. Trust me. I’ve spent 36 years living that way. I had perfected the art of pretending I had it all together, and my show was pretty damn good if I do say so myself. But it was fricken exhausting. Isolating. Self-sabotaging. And eventually I just couldn’t keep up. Once this divorce became real and I knew I needed the support of those friends and acquaintances who I had held at arm’s length for so long, the act was simply no longer an option. I had to open up and come clean. I needed help. I knew I had to follow the guidance I had received months earlier about showing up and being my true self, because the only other option was to fall off the grid. Fall apart. Crumble from isolation and exhaustion. I had no choice. Good for you, Not for me. I chose to Show Up.
And what happened as a result has simply astounded me. I’ve had more real conversations in the past two weeks than I’ve had in my entire life. I had an emotional and inspiring coffee date with a friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years where we both bared our souls, cried and then ultimately took pride in our journeys. I had a beer with a fellow mom who is going through a strikingly similar situation, struggling with the same frustrations and heartache of breaking up a family. I’ve had more supportive, encouraging and revealing Facebook message conversations than I could possibly count, yet each one has enriched this experience for me more than they could ever know. Add to that, coincidentally, some of the most real and poignant conversations I’ve ever had with (soon-to-be) ex-husband. Go figure.
So this brings me to the second bullet of what happened while on vacation in Mexico; reading Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. In this book Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief and disappointment, but also the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She explains that when we shut ourselves off from being vulnerable, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. The lesson is that the one true purpose of being a human being is to have real human connection – it’s what we need in order to thrive and be alive. Furthermore, she suggests, the only way to be truly happy is to connect with other humans in a real and deep way, to Show Up and really engage in life. And the only way we are truly able to Show Up and be truly engaged in our lives, is to take off our masks and our armor and be vulnerable. To let ourselves be seen. That, she says, is the key to true happiness. Yet so many of us do everything in our power to do the opposite – to only show your “clean” or “pretty” side – to hide your deepest insecurities and vulnerabilities from those closest to you so that you can appear to have it all together (sound familiar?). This is what is stifling our relationships, and thus, our true happiness and potential as humans.
So you can see how this is all coming together right? I’m sitting there, divine guidance to share my story in one hand, Daring Greatly in the other, and an impending life change that would expose me for all the dirt and grime underneath in between. I felt nauseous. I decided not to do it. But then I changed my mind, and at this point there is no going back. There’s no hiding anymore. It feels real… like I’m Showing Up, getting in line for this other part of life that I had only heard about. Life in the arena.
Yes, what I’m going through is terrifying and heartbreaking. Trust me – if you choose to join me on the roller-coaster of emotions that is my life right now, you will see that I go from the pissed off, “Why in the Hell is this happening?” to the sentimental, “I can’t believe this is our last two weeks as a family in this house” to the eager, “How much longer before he gets all his crap out of this house so I can sell it and start my new life in a new home?” daily or hourly, sometimes all in the same minute. But the truth is – aside from all of these emotions, I’ve never felt so alive. It feels like the sun is just starting to rise on the horizon and the possibilities of what lie before me are endless. Those spirit guides…man, they sure know what they are doing..