Anytime I’m going through a struggle, its easy for me to slip into the thinking of “no one will understand this” or somewhat worse, “no one else is going through this.” Both are equally defeating to me, and to the other person really. I don’t want to insult people I otherwise hold in such high regard by deciding for them what they can and cannot handle or identify with.
I do fall into that, though, because it is natural, I guess? Because I obsess a little about my own life more than others? Because I’m harder on myself than I ever would be on someone I love? Yes, to all of those.
Which is why a few days ago I was really killing myself over projected judgement. I get those strange, unexplainable ideas that one, everyone knows what I am struggling with and I therefore must be embarrassed by it and two, that everyone thinks less of me because of my struggle. It makes me unlovable, is what it really comes down to.
Logically, I know that is not true. I know I would never do that to someone, and I know I have allowed the sort of people into my life to stay who would not do that to me. I KNOW THIS. But then I go and tell myself these stories about “what if” and my worth and it all gets to feel like too much.
Then it hit me, I don’t have to tell this story. First of all, not everyone gets to know your story. I think that was one of the most beneficial things I have learned from reading everything Brene Brown has ever written (and if you haven’t read her books, blog, etc, DO. DO IT NOW): that not everyone gets to know all your personal stuff. You can hold your cards close to your chest and choose who gets to see. That was one liberating rule, let me tell you.
YOU CAN LIVE AN AUTHENTIC LIFE WITHOUT LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT.
I sat with that for a good long time. I prayed about that and meditated on it for a long while. And it felt good. Knowing that yes, it is good to tell my story but NO, I don’t have to tell it to everyone in order to be fully authentic. Save the transparency lectures for business and politics.
And then, as I thought about this choice I have on what I share and who I share with I thought, why be afraid of sharing this tough, scary story when it is not the whole story? Because that is always, no matter what you are going through, going to be true. This moment you’re in, when you’ve messed up or been hurt or feel awful is never, ever all there is.
I don’t have to worry about telling this story because it has not ended.
I don’t have to say “well, I have been through X, Y, and Z but please love me anyway?” because X, Y, and Z are just pieces. Next is A, B, and C, and who knows what they hold. You are at the very end of your rope with X, Y, and Z as I am quite certain is a really common feeling, but the secret very few of us are good at remembering at the end of that rope is there are always more ropes.
So I decided not only do I not have to be afraid of telling this story, or letting it define any part of me or my life, because it is not over yet. It is not the complete story I will tell. I will practice telling it from a place of accepting it as a piece, not as a whole.
And let me tell you something about this decision: it is one of the best I’ve ever made. The power that the “bad” stuff had over me is diminished. The fear of perceived judgement is gone. Because I am not denying certain facts, I just will not accept that they are any more important than any other part.
It is not a balancing game. There is no “I have all this good stuff to offer that counters the bad” bargaining. There is just this: I get to tell the story in any way I want, to whomever I want, and I get to be loved independent of any of this. The End.