So far this week I’ve talked about an honesty of love rather than fear and then about becoming honest about what our bodies, our emotions and our souls are telling us.
Today I want to finish this mini-series by looking at being honest with our stories.
Now, to start with I’m going to suggest that none of us can possibly be completely honest about our stories. We will always have gaps in our understanding and information that is missing or incomplete because of our perspective. I am not suggesting here that we have to get every single fact correct and tell every single detail of our stories. I don’t think that’s necessary.
But for many of us – myself especially – shame and guilt and a fear of judgment kept me from telling much of my story for a very long time – to either myself or to those around me.
It kept me from admitting that having metal rods put through my leg and then having to slowly lengthen my own leg with a wrench over the course of six months was traumatic.
It kept me from acknowledging the depth of the pain that was caused by the constant ostracization I felt in school – not disabled enough to be accepted by the disabled kids, and not able-bodied enough to be able to participate in the activities the rest of the kids were doing.
It kept me from accepting that my experiences in the religious environment I grew up in had made it hard for me to ask questions or have a voice or differ with somebody else’s opinion – especially when that somebody else was a person in authority.
It kept me from identifying that I struggled most of my life with mental health issues that went untreated and therefore wrecked havoc on so many of the most precious relationships in my life.
Then there’s all of the parts of my kids’ stories that I didn’t want to tell because I would have to feel ashamed about them, too. Or the parts of my story that have to do with my marriage not always being the happy, wonderful experience that I made it out to be.
In fact, in my fear of being found out and judged and shamed for all of these secrets that I thought would be the end of the world if anyone ever found out about, I got pretty damn good creating an image of the person I wanted people to think I was, of the relationships I wanted people to think I had.
I was so good at it that all sorts of things that were important got missed – like my kids’ autism diagnoses; like my mental health issues (even missed by five different therapists when I went to try to get treatment in my early thirties); like my physical health issues.
Until I stumbled across Brené Brown’s ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ a few years ago and discovered that the only way through all of that shame was – and is – vulnerability. Or radical honesty.
So I started the work.
It was slow, painful work.
It required getting honest about all of my stories.
It required getting honest about all of my pain.
It required getting honest about all of the things I was ashamed of.
Yet slowly but surely, all of this honesty about the story of my past started to change the story of my present.
Which is enough to change the story of not only my future, but the futures of all of those I live with and love and care for and connect to.
This is why I do what I do. Because I believe first hand in the power of vulnerable story-telling honesty in safe connection to change us and transform us more and more into the people we were always intended to be.
Anybody got a story they need to tell?