I'm learning to love myself more, by sharing myself with you. That's the beauty in the ashes, the silencing of the shame. It happens amidst the share, not in spite of it.
One area I have always wanted more connection, more depth, more meaning, was within friendships. I struggled with having lots of friends, but none that were fulfilling or growing authentically. I often found myself leaving events or social gatherings feeling less connected then before, knowing that the majority of my relationships weren't built on the truth of me fully representing my honest self. I masked my past and personal struggles, and feared I wouldn't be liked if people really "knew" me. I never trusted, because my relationships were built on this false authenticity that I had intently built up around myself. I hadn't been willing to give of myself, to open up, to show up.
So when this journey began, I realized I had to make the first move. I could no longer hope for deep, vulnerable, honest relationships if I wasn't first willing to put those things into one. I had to step out in faith, cut to the chase, and show people the real, messy, beautiful, me. And regardless of who sticks around, leaves or enters, I can continue loving myself, for being myself. No more, no less.
So here we are, and it's happening. In overwhelming, humbling waves. The connections growing stronger... people reaching out, sharing their stories, gratitudes, encouragements. Emails, texts, private messages, maybe a quick run in chat at the park.
One by one, they're all choosing to shut the door on shame, and welcoming the often uncomfortable, yet empowering new way. Some old faces, some new, but all saying the same thing. It's as if our hearts sigh and softly whisper to one another's, "ahhh... hello darling, there you are. I have been waiting for you."
You see, shame is tricky. It's that voice that tells you you aren't enough, you don't have enough, you'll never be enough. It also says you're too broken, messed up, or lost to become anything, or anyone, to anybody. Unlike guilt, shame is debilitating; like being wrapped in an ice tundra of old memories and choices, frozen and unable to move. Guilt on the other hand can be motivating. Guilt says "I did something bad," while shame repeats "you are something bad." Guilt often promotes change, while shame is much more powerful. It stiffens the soul and recoils your courage, keeping you in the "play it safe" zone. It does everything it can to prevent you from having any authentic or meaningful relationships, and sabotages your efforts to fulfill your called upon purpose.
I've been asked recently, "how can you openly write about the things you do? Aren't you afraid of what others may say or think? Or worse, how others may feel?"
To be honest, I'm more afraid now of what will happen if I don't get it out. I spent a long time suffocating in shame, giving over years of my life to its power, unable to breathe and afraid. It is a dangerous feeling to face alone, and a place I'll never return to.
Healing can be found here, in this place of sharing, in this "new way." The fear of sharing lessens each time we do it, bringing us closer to one another. Shame only grows stronger within silence, and alternatively loses it's power when we courageously open up. Yes, I have lost some people along the way, but I know not everyone is meant for this journey alongside me. I trust in my Higher Power, and I know it's not up for me to decide who's along for the ride. I only have to do my part, and continue showing up.
But sharing my truth can be intimidating. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get doubts or second thoughts about things I publish. Questions float around my head like a pesky gnat about who I may offend, hurt, disappoint, or confuse. I've learned to identify that as simply self centered fear (a relative to shame) and choose each day to not let them win. (Instead I choose to karate chop them in the jugular every time).
These essays I share with you are pieces of my heart. Little gifts that make up who I am; the good and bad, the gorgeous and messy. It's not always easy, and can be down right hard at times giving these gifts away. But it's even harder, not to.
You see, sometimes these gifts can be met unwanted; misunderstood, or worse, rejected by people in places or moments in their lives where they simply aren't ready or willing to receive and accept them.
Sometimes these gifts are opened delicately; the ribbon slowly untied, the paper unwrapped with gentle concern, a respectful curiosity for the contents inside.
And other times these gifts are met with a warm, inviting, and familiar embrace. The receiver is less concerned about the contents inside, and more interested in the giver. They know the gift is actually our two hearts connecting, our journeys colliding, our lights recognizing one another's. THAT'S the real beauty in the giving, the sharing, the healing. It's us meeting there, in THAT place.
I give out these gifts freely, without expectation or concern regarding the varying responses to these gifts. My responsibility lies in the crafting of the gift, and the honest heartfelt giving, not on how the gifts are received.
To give, is to do so freely, without worry or concern regarding the end result. I create these gifts to share parts of my heart with you, to heal parts of my heart that hurt, and to possibly connect those pieces to the pieces in you. There is no other goal or motivation. There simply can't be.
And because we are all the same, deep inside, my stories often strike a cord inside your heart pieces. We recognize each other, as if we have known each other this entire time. And I believe it's because we have.
When this happens, we begin to see more similarities and less differences among each other. The love begins to generously flow; as my heart pieces help heal yours, and yours help to heal mine. And when we begin to heal each other, the shame lessens and the courage strengthens. It is THEN you bravely begin sharing freely your OWN gifts, those same pieces of your heart, small but mighty gemstones of truth, to others along YOUR journey. THESE are the gifts that keep on giving; ones we gratefully and humbly give away, knowing they weren't ever ours to keep in the first place.