I have recently been recommended a book that has the potential to change my life and so many aspects of it that weigh me down (pun intended). It's called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and it addresses so many of life's issues simply by focusing on one aspect: vulnerability. That's a scary word especially for someone like me. I have been burned too many times because I've let my guard down, allowed myself to be vulnerable, been open and honest and honestly made a fool of myself. I don't like the idea of being vulnerable, I've spent a lot of time learning how to "protect" myself from hurt, embarrassment, fear, I don't want to unlearn those things.
However, as I read through this book, (I'm only on chapter 4) I'm starting to realize that if I'm going to get through and past a lot of the obstacles in my mind I'm going to need to be vulnerable. I need to face and talk about my fears, the things that I am ashamed of and feel guilty about. I need to stop waiting on perfection of my mind, body or spirit before taking that leap and doing the things I truly desire. I've lived my entire life never feeling good enough. I guess that's why I never step out on a limb, fearful of the laughter, the ridicule that comes from putting oneself out there while at the same time admiring those women who just don't give a damn what other people think and live their lives as they choose.
Brene Brown speaks of scarcity. I had no idea what she was talking about until she broke it down further. It's the idea of "never enough." Never __________ enough. Never pretty enough, never skinny enough, never smart enough and the list goes on. We all know those tapes, we all have those voices. Unfortunately after the life I've lived, it's easy to believe them.
Two failed marriages due to adultery, yes I said TWO. TWO husbands who didn't find me good enough, sexy enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or just enough. This after my parents divorce in which, while I was old enough to know intellectually that it wasn't my fault, I felt as though I wasn't good enough for my dad to stick around either. Then there was the feeling that I wasn't a good enough mom to my first son because when I divorced his father, I gave up custody. I was in a bad place, I couldn't be the mother he deserved at that time in my life. Heaven knows I knew I wasn't enough for him. The shame and guilt I have burdened myself with over that decision has nearly paralyzed me. That is a topic I don't talk about or share with anyone. I am afraid. Scared of the judgment, the ridicule, the mommy-bashing we are so good at. I heard so much of that when I first made that decision, I no longer discuss it with people. Not family members, not my husband, not my kids. I'm embarrassed. It hurts. BUT, through this book I am learning that shame cannot live when it is spoken about. It thrives in the darkness. That's why it has burdened me for so long, because I've kept it inside. I haven't shone a light on it. I haven't allowed myself to be vulnerable.
My way of daring greatly this month is going to be a) blogging on this topic regularly and b) reaching out to my oldest and telling him all these things. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. Letting him in. Telling him how conflicted I was and still am about the decisions I made as a young woman. Letting him know that I love him now as I always have and understanding that I may not hear the words I want to hear in return. That has got to be the scariest thing I can think of right now.
When he was younger I kept telling myself I would wait until he was old enough to understand. When he graduated high school, I made him a scrapbook of the two of us and didn't send it to him (I was scared). When he got married, I made a gift but didn't send it (I was embarrassed so much time had passed). Each time his wife has had a child I've wanted to reach out and say "Wow, he looks so much like you" (what right did I have to force myself into his life now) and now that he's reached such a successful place in his career I want to pick up the phone and congratulate him (his success has nothing to do with me, why am I now reaching out).
All these occasions I keep waiting for the "perfect" time. I'm learning that I just need to put it all out there. If I am brushed off, if I am cussed out, if I am laughed at, at least I know I told him everything I felt. Am I running the risk of being terribly hurt? of course I am. Am I running the risk of having his family pass judgment on me? (who does she think she is trying to be part of your life after all these years? why is she trying to take credit for the man you've become when she had nothing to do with it? and the tapes in my mind go on and on) HOWEVER, if I am going to start to figure out myself and feel better about life, I need to take this step, I need to risk it, to be VULNERABLE. I might throw up.
Brene puts it much better than I could:
― Brené Brown
So, here's to daring greatly and being vulnerable... oh, and to NOT throwing up.