I wasn’t going to share this video, this poem, with all of you. I am not concerned or afraid about experiencing whatever thoughts, feelings, and opinions you may feel inclined to project my way. I actually really enjoy sharing my raw vulnerability with you!
Upon watching myself on video, I caught myself stepping into a trap of sorts that I have fallen into many times. I’ll share what the trap was in an upcoming video and how I made a conscious decision to very quickly change course and get out of it.
Sometimes I feel more than I can handle.
Sometimes I feel too raw, too real, too vulnerable.
Watch the video for the full poem.
I hope that my sharing my raw vulnerability with you inspires you to get in touch with yourself and to plant yourself in the soil of your belonging. You are not alone on this journey, fellow travelers. Although it may certainly not feel like it at times, it is a blessing to feel everything so deeply, so rawly, so at the heart and core of your beingness.
When was the last time you were really authentic with yourself and called yourself out on your own stuff? When were you willing to look behind the door at whatever dark, stinking stuff you may have stuffed there, and acknowledge it, and embrace it? Have you ever called yourself out on your stuff?
Pardon the vernacular, but it takes a set of cajones to do so. It is a practice for one who is willing to step upon and walk the warrior path.
Last night, I shared an incredible co-versation over dinner. At one point during the meal, I said, “I think a lot of people are addicted to pain.”
The person I was sharing this co-versation with said, “You think a lot of people are addicted to pain? You don’t believe a lot of people are addicted to pain?”
“Yes. No.” Why? A part of me, or several parts of me, in that moment were quite clearly saying “Bullshit. I don’t believe people are addicted to pain.” Why? Here’s where it gets interesting…why does a part of me not believe people are addicted to pain?
In that moment, I realized, part of me does not believe people are addicted to pain because that part of me is addicted to pain — a part of my Self was trying to keep hidden in the dark recesses of my awareness aspects of self that I have yet to embrace that are in pain. Dark, festering pain. And, I called myself out on my stuff right then and there. Over dinner. No holds barred, after a few minutes of meeting someone, I slipped the lip and called myself out.
It’s taken years of practice to get to this point and now, before I’m even aware of what I’m doing, I’m calling myself out on my self-authenticity.
I don’t know what that pain is yet, if I will know what it is, or if it’s even necessary to know what it is, as much as it is to purely allow myself to feel it, to express it, to allow it to flow through me. And that’s okay! One thing is for sure, I will be spending time with that part of myself, compassionately, and with loving kindness.
It can, at first, be terrifying to even think of acknowledging your stuff like that in front of other people, especially someone you practically just met, but it is incredibly freeing. It’s raw. It’s naked and vulnerable. It’s real.
When we’re having a great day and really enjoying ourselves, it’s pretty easy to say that we’re having the best day ever. Have you noticed that?
What happens when less than ideal things happen to us? Maybe we were in a car accident, lost our wallet, dropped the cell phone in the loo…maybe we broke a bone, found out we’re experiencing an illness, or are mourning the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps you’ve realized that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and you sit there, on your bed, locked in your room, with a bottle of Tylenol next to you, wondering…
“Is this all there is to life?”
Or, perhaps the emotional pain you are feeling is too present, too intense to process and…
…you beg on hands and knees for some sort of physical pain so you don’t have to feel the pain within your heart.
You receive that pain only to spend three years learning how to get out of it, chasing your tail in circles. In that blind, circle-chasing process stumble over your own two feet to discover
in order to let go of the physical pain you’ve been feeling, you have to allow yourself to feel all of the emotional pain you’ve been numbing yourself from and hiding from.
What happens then? Do we say that it’s the best day ever? Probably not. Chances are, we’re more likely to sound like Alexander from “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
I get it. I’ve been there. Up there, that woman who sat on her bed, who numbed herself, who begged for physical pain, over 10 years ago, was me. I understand what it’s like to have hit some sort of rock bottom and to wonder if you’ll ever pull yourself out of the hole that you’re in.
Just as a rainbow can light up the darkest of skies, we can choose to light up our own sky. Regardless of what happens to us or what we’re experiencing, we have a choice. We have a choice to choose whether or not we’re going to have the best day ever — regardless of the circumstances that come our way.
You may be sitting there saying that that is absolute cockamamie bullshit. That’s OK. I invite you to hear me out.
I suspect one day, you might reach a point in your life when you’re tired of “having bad days.” Is any day really bad? What defines a bad day? The day itself doesn’t change. The sun rises and sets, the earth rotates on its axis and around the sun, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall. So, what’s different other than our perspective about that particular day?
You see, we fall into the carefully designed trap of living a life of comparison. We consciously and subconsciously compare each moment of our day, each experience we have, to all of the other experiences we have experienced and decide — good or bad; the best day ever, or the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Why? Why choose to compare? Why live your present life in the past?
Each and every single moment of every single day we are free to consciously choose what kind of day we are experiencing.
Wouldn’t you like to experience the best day ever, each and every day? Now, I’m not saying that dark, negative, or challenging experiences won’t ever fall your way because they will. It’s inevitable. It’s part of this human experience. However, you can choose how you react to those dark, negative, or challenging experiences. You can choose to flip the coin. You can choose to open the door to a part of yourself that you may not have experienced.
You can choose to reclaim your power rather than victimize yourself by giving your power away to the situation.
Notice the next time you find yourself saying “I’m having a bad day,” or “this is the worst day ever.” Make a conscious decision to flip the coin. Make a conscious decision to open the door behind which a new experience of your Self lies in wait.
I invite you to choose to say “I am having the best day ever.” You may not believe yourself at first. I certainly didn’t. Once I said that a few times to myself though, I experienced the cathartic, cleansing release of tears.
In that moment, I realized that the only thing holding me back from having the best day ever was me — my mindset, my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and my attitude. You too can choose to shift your perspective.
When you stop comparing this day, this one moment which you have never experienced before, with any other day or any other moment, when you choose to live life like there is no past and no future, and all that exists is right here, right now…you will shift.
If all that exists is this one precious moment, regardless of the experience and the visitor that has landed on the doorstep of your Home, what will you choose?
Have you ever received a gift that really touched your heart? What was it? What it something someone bought you? Made you? Or was it something completely intangible that you cannot hold and can only experience?
“Santa Clause,” a couple of weeks before Christmas, gave me a gift that touched my heart and moved me in such a way that I still cry when I think about that gift. What was the gift?
It wasn’t a toy. It wasn’t clothes or jewelry. It wasn’t anything you can buy in a store, or make with your hands.
The day after sharing a cup of tea, a little movement, a lot of laughter, and some fantastic climbing, backpacking, and hiking stories with a friend, I realized something about myself. I have not been living. Well, not what I would consider living.
You see, in that brief time together, my friend mirrored back to me a part of myself that I had lost. Where did the adventurous, wild-hearted woman go, who spent nearly every weekend hiking in the mountains in NH? Where did that woman who packed up the back of her pickup truck, drove 2 weeks across country at the age of 20, to live in Alaska for over 3 years, backpacking in Denali National Park, working various odd jobs, living in a cabin with one room, a loft, and no running water, go? Where did the woman who later moved back east and spent a few days per week climbing at the local rock gym (my first love of movement), taking private lessons, and openly and authentically chatting with friends about life over a climbing or bouldering problem, go?
Where did she go? And what the heck has she been doing the past 9 years?
I realized that for the last 9 years, I have not lived. In that moment, I found the aspect of that adventurous, wild-hearted woman that I have been missing all this time.
Remember the clip from Hook, when the little boy “found” Peter? You don’t? Watch it. I’ll wait.
Where did she go? I pushed her aside, sacrificing that aspect of myself to raise my boys, to finish my degree so I could get a “real job,” (which I didn’t do), to continue my ongoing education in holistic movement and wellness, to open a studio, and the list goes on and on. Of course one can argue that with all that I’ve “done” I have indeed been living. At what cost? Have I really been living? Following my heart?
It’s been a long road home. The process of living an awakening life, vulnerably and authentically connecting with others and myself, being curious, inviting myself to explore the dust bunnies in the dark, hidden corners of my inner closet, and developing a movement practice largely brought me to this moment.
The aspect of “Santa Clause” within my friend gave the aspect of “the Grinch” within me a true gift of Christmas that allowed the aspect of “Peter Pan” within me to find himself.
Would you be willing to consider that you needn’t wait for the holidays to give and receive gifts? We have the ability to give and receive gifts each and every day.
Would you be willing to consider that you don’t need to give anything at all other than the gift of being your authentic self and living your life authentically? What if that is one of the greatest gifts we can give, not only to others, but to ourselves as well?
Are you strong? Do you train your body? Train your mind? Explore your inner world? Let me ask again – are you strong? What does it mean to be strong?
Are you one of those people whom everyone looks up to and says “wow, you are so strong! I don’t know how you do what you do.” Are you a caregiver? A mom? A dad? Do you find yourself doing everything on your own and depending primarily on yourself? Do you find it challenging to ask for help? When you cry, if you allow yourself to cry, is it only behind closed doors where no one will see or hear you displaying such a show of emotion? Do you hide your true emotions and feelings behind your smile so that others may continue to see how strong you are in the face of various challenges?
Parts of me have fallen into those very categories for years. I am known as “the strong one” because I held back my emotions, am raising two boys on my own, and opened a studio (what?!). I made sure I would do everything on my own and not become co-dependent on anyone ever again. Parts of me find it challenging to ask for help. And, there are days when I cover up my tears, my anger, my fear, or my frustration with a smile. More often than not, my tears.
Would you be willing to consider that parts of us were led to believe that strong people don’t show emotions, they’re fully self-reliant, they don’t ask for help, they always appear happy and grounded? And, that if you displayed emotions, were co-dependent (as a child), interdependent, or asked for help that there was something wrong with you?
Would you be willing to consider that it takes much more effort to maintain the facade of being “the strong one” than it does to allow yourself to be yourself, to show emotion, to ask for help, to create space for healthy interdependence? It certainly doesn’t feel like it at first. It may even feel like you are breaking down and falling to your knees…becoming “weak.”
What if, in fact, you are allowing yourself to experience a new level of strength? What if by allowing yourself to see and accept those parts of yourself which you were led to believe were weak, needy, or shameful, you are becoming stronger?
Have you experienced the grace and the strength required to admit to ourselves and to others the following:
- I experience strong emotions and I have days that I cry off and on all day.
- Although I’m doing, xyz, parts of me are experiencing fear.
- I need help with…can you help me?
Would you consider that it takes a tremendous amount of strength and surrender to see, acknowledge, and accept those parts of ourselves? And, even more strength and surrender to openly share it with others? May I share with you a secret?
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness that comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.” ~ Rumi
In my opinion, you are not alone. You do not have to do everything alone. We need other people. I do not believe that you have to be “the strong one” in the way you think others want or need you to be strong. Would you be willing to allow yourself to experience the deep surrender and incredible relief that comes from being authentic with yourself and vulnerable with others? Would you be willing to allow yourself to experience the tremendous growing pains from the heart that comes from opening yourself up, much as a flower experiences as it bursts forth from its shell?
Would you consider allowing yourself to experience the experience of being vulnerable, and share the experience that connects us all – that of being human?