I woke up today with what researcher, author and speaker Brene Brown refers to as a "vulnerability hangover", an intense feeling of what the hell did I just do?! from publishing my first post here yesterday about my journey to become an Energy Healer. Thoughts of "people are going to think I'm pathetic," "what if the people mentioned in the post read it," "all my credibly as a normal person is gone" flooded me and made me fearful, especially thoughts about the people from my hometown passing it around like a joke. To be completely honest, it's always been pretty embarrassing to me that a stupid high school relationship and breakup affected me so terribly, so owning my story publicly is nerve-racking, to say the least.
That said, I also believe that my talent for communication and fearlessness for owning my truth are my greatest assets. If I'm going to relate to peoples' pain and trauma, they need to know that I'm going to validate theirs with my own radical self-acceptance. People deserve to hear my story, and I deserve to tell it. Thus begins today's topic on the blog: Vulnerability: A Super Power.
I was introduced to Brene Brown by my Voice & Speech teacher in college by way of her famous TED talk: The Power of Vulnerability. Being what I thought was vulnerable in the classroom, our teachers would say, "Use what your going through for the work!" and I did. I was an open book, cutting myself open and spilling my guts out day after day, putting things on my voice that a normal person would never dare to admit even to themselves. I believed I was strong and brave, when really I was publicly processing my trauma, masturbating my pain and looking for sympathy, for forgiveness for being who I believed to be an unlovable person. Yes, I allowed heroic depth to come through my radical honesty and openness, but I was daily throwing myself under the bus, showing my belly to people who hadn't actually earned my trust. Nobody really had to earn anything with me, I just gave myself away all the time.
It was clear I was a sad girl, a lost soul. I got so used to showing up fully, oftentimes downright ugly, that nothing really scared me to admit anymore. I could share anything because rejection was already assured for me unless I played the politics, which I had no interest in doing anyway. At least that's how it felt, and I wanted to maximize my education, which felt like what I was doing by being so unabashedly raw. Deep down, I wanted somebody to see, to care that I was hurting. I wanted somebody to want to be there for me, and nobody did. Not really.
In hindsight I see that it was all a mask, but kind of like a reverse mask: If I show everyone all the worst bits of me, they won't find out for themselves. How weirdly controlling and perfectionistic is that? I felt so low about who I was, I wanted everyone to see it, too but I wanted to control how it was perceived. What I thought was Vulnerability with a capital V was actually a form of armor of its own. Since then, I have never felt like I could bounce back with that community. I have felt uncomfortable with my peers from college ever since, even though it probably wasn't as bad as I remember it. I'm sure many of them remember me very differently than I assume, maybe even some of them in a positive light. What we think we know is never The Truth, but it's a shame how much self-hatred I publicly exercised. That time of life really could have been beautiful, it could've been fun. But instead I needed it to be hard, excruciating, humiliating and isolated. Maybe because on a deep level I knew that in order to become the fearless chick I wanted to be, I had to face all of the aspects of me that were holding me back. I had some darkness to confront, and I needed to do it the hard way.
When I read Brene Brown's Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, she defines Wholehearted living as "engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness [...] cultivating courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough". This was where I had been lacking. I had the courage to be completely transparent about my pain, my trauma, but it all came from worthlessness instead of worthiness. I guess this is the distinction I'm making today -- that my strength to own my story has always been good, but where I'm sharing it from and for what purpose is what makes the difference. In college, I shared from a place of self-loathing, self-harm, desperation and neediness. As I write this blog today, I share from a place of self-acceptance and true humanitarian love. I don't need anybody to prove to me that I am lovable anymore, that I am worthy enough to be cared for. I've done the work to know that, and I am lucky enough to now be surrounded by relationships that reflect that. I am called to share my experiences now in this forum in order to connect with others, to show them that we all experience hardship, pain and shame and what I did to confront mine. I refuse to be ashamed of the journey that made me the person I am, a person who empowers others and shares tools for self-love, mastery and joy. No matter how stupid my judgmental, fearful mind wants me to feel about it, this is me. I own my journey proudly, unabashedly so that anybody who can relate knows that they are not alone, that there is hope. If I can make one person feel like there is hope, that I can save them from making the same mistakes I did, that there are practical ways to cultivate worthiness, it will have all been worth it.