I have always considered myself an honest person.
The fact that my parents instilled a fairly straight moral compass inside of me and the fact that to this day I feel EXTREME panic and guilt whenever I am not being honest, coupled with how RED my face gets every single time I tell a non-truth, it has always been simpler for me to just “fess up”.
HOWEVER, I have realized recently that for the most part, I have always been nothing more than “cash-register-honest”.
Meaning, you would never have to worry about me stealing your shit, but I also wasn’t going to ever, ever, EVER tell you that I was struggling in any way, shape, or form.
You see, both are forms of truth, but I was only practicing one.
There have been things that throughout my life I have learned to hold sacred inside of my being: My family, my relationships, my finances… my struggles.
I have come to realize that my practice of holding these things so close to my chest for fear of someone or something using my pain against me, was preventing me from being able to fully let go of any of it.
It wasn’t until I made the decision to get honest about my tragic relationship with alcohol, that I realized the power in sharing our own personal truths.
Saying out loud to the world that my alcohol consumption was a problem in my life was the scariest and most painful thing that I have done in my 29 years.
The amount of shame I felt in those first days and months after opening up to my issue was immense and almost crippling. I am smart enough to know the stigma that comes along with “having a drinking problem” and I was scared to death of what you, the world, would think of me if you knew.
Here was the catch though, I knew that if I did not get honest and acknowledge that there was a problem, I would never be able to overcome it.
I was forced to walk through my own shame, my own guilt, my own fear, and tell the world that I had a big fat problem, and I intended to do my damndest to fix it.
It was not easy, but it WAS powerful.
The amount of people that have reached out to me privately since my own public revelation, to tell me that they are struggling too has been staggering.
This has led me to ponder, what else aren’t we sharing with the world? What else is keeping us all sick? What secrets are we keeping that we wrongly believe are keeping us safe?
The only way that we can overcome darkness, is by shining a light onto it.
I think about bedtime when I was a little girl. My parents would come in my room to say goodnight, and often, if I asked, they would turn on my closet light so I could see that there weren’t any “bad guys” hiding in the corner behind my clothes.
Eventually, I had to grow up and learn to deal with that fear by myself. I was still scared, but I was ashamed of my own fear. So, instead of getting out of bed and shining the light into the depths of the closet myself, I learned to turn off the light, shut the door, and do my best to ignore the fear.
Today, at 29 years old, I can still fall victim to my own fear of those proverbial “bad guys” in my closet. If I allow myself to go un-checked, I still fall back into my habit of turning off the light, shutting the door, and shaming myself into my own darkness.
The thing about shame though? It feeds on silence.
In my opinion, Social Media in every form has perpetuated this problem. We scroll through our feeds and compare our insides to others outsides.
If you are anything like me, you look at an “influencers” page and wonder something like, “How in the hell is her kitchen so clean?”.
I often have to remind myself that it is literally this persons JOB to have a clean and airy kitchen in order to create aesthetically pleasing pictures and fool us into thinking that she has it all together. We often forget that we are only seeing things from one camera angle. I am 99.9% certain this crazy clean woman in her perfectly pressed denim jeans and flawless blouse most DEFINITELY moved her coffee pot and shoved a pile of unopened mail out of the view of the camera. (If she didn’t, well then, God Bless her, because she isn’t human. WE ALL OF PILES OF MAIL WE ARE AVOIDING… right?)
I am going to let you in on a little secret. None of us know what we are doing, OK?
There, I said it. I am surrounded by amazing, successful, funny, “put-together”, ADULTS, ALL OF THE TIME, and even they don’t know what they are doing. We are all just out here bumping into one another, doing the best we can, trying to keep our kids fed and our dogs walked. We are all learning AS WE GO.
If someone tells you that they have it all figured out all of the time, RUN. They are either lying, or a narcissist.
So where does our truth fit into all of this?
Our truth is the only thing that matters.
Our truth is what makes us human, and being unapologetically human is the most beautiful thing in the world.
There is something undeniably powerful about saying “I am scared.” or “I am hurting.” or “I don’t know what my next move is.”
There is even immense power in the smaller things.
EX: “I let my puppy go after the toilet paper roll for 10 minutes because I didn’t have the energy to stop him for the 78th time.” or “I have bought celery 3 weeks in a row and it keeps going bad, because I have good intentions, but celery tastes like wet cardboard.” or “I did nothing but lay on my mat for an hour during Yoga, because Yoga is hard.”
(I have done all 3 of the above mentioned things…. this week.)
The best part about embracing our truth is that allowing ourselves to be human gives other people permission to be human as well.
I admire people that use their experiences to open up space for others, because often it can seem like the scariest thing in the world. It takes a very brave person to stand in their own experience with no shame, and no fear of the repercussions of sharing their own trials and tribulations.
I am not saying that it is easy. Truth-Telling can be insanely difficult. When we tell our darkest truths, we run the risk of being ignored, or rejected. We run the risk of upsetting others, or harming our relationships. However, on the other side of the coin, truth telling is necessary for a journey of personal growth and also the progression of our society. Vulnerability and honesty shed light onto the most painful parts of life that most of us have been taught to keep in the dark.
Truth is the basis of all change and of all healing.
Our stories are connected. Our pain and our healing, is one.