I’m offering you an invitation and let me explain why.
Honesty aches. I experience honesty as a hollow descent where shame, fear and loss await. For me, remaining silent preserved the illusion of acceptance, success, respect and love. My trademark for silencing the honesty is to sabotage the gravitational pull that draws me even the slightest bit near it. At 38 years old, I can say that I’ve experienced the majority of my life feeling more comfortable in paralyzing fear and suffering than I know what it is to sit comfortably in happiness.
The first time I was characterized as intense and deeply sensitive was as a young child. It didn’t take me long to learn that these were not favorable traits many people would easily embrace. I had no barometer for sorrow just as I had no barometer for what emotional safety felt like. The prism of pain I had experienced in my life didn’t seem to hold any weight against the judgment I was most afraid of. This fear quickly spiraled into protective armor I would begin to cover myself in. For me, that armor was wrapped in disillusioned perfectionism I couldn’t quite keep up with and retreating to prisons of fear I felt sentenced to. The tragedies I experienced in life remained my secret just as dishonesty became my shield of acceptance. I believed I had perfected the art of presentation and my need to be in control was the motivating defense.
Not many people saw me because I was too afraid to be seen. Like many of us, we are afraid to share in the falls, so we set ourselves up to ensure that our triumphs are all that the outside sees. I was also up against an unlikely parallel because my hiding produced what society measures as successful results. I survived a family plagued by tragedy through death, addiction, domestic violence and mental illness and came to learn that my rite of passage would be the co-dependency I’d have to unlearn. I turned a traumatic sexual assault into obtaining my Masters in Social Work so that I could help others in their suffering. I turned the loss of a baby into three extraordinary children. I left a career to become a stay at home mother while having the opportunity to teach part-time as a college Instructor. From the outside, it all appeared to be what I recognize most people likely hope for. It was an illusion I was bred to perfect and it deflected from the truth behind the triumphs and falls.
When I look at particular crossroads in my life, I can recall when my fear to be truthful became paralyzing and severely impacted my ability to give and receive love, allow failure and truly connect without feeling vulnerably naked. We’re engrossed in a culture that feeds off of sustaining images and portrayals that aren’t based on anything real. Then, I became a mother.
There is little room, energy or time for the illusion of perfectionism and happiness in parenting. It wasn’t until my third child was born that honesty began to gnaw at me, the cries could no longer be silenced and the illusion of perfectionism to hide what lied beneath could no longer be covered. I am realizing that honesty is really the only starting point from which you can actually accept any invitation in your life.
No one prepares us for what happens once we make our way down the hollow descent. I’ve realized once I went there, I couldn’t go back. My destination changed just as I did. From that point on, I was committed to seeking outlets where honesty was embraced and mirrored what I once thought was only experienced by me. Where being intense and sensitive were not death sentences. After honesty aches, it begins to bleed. Then, you see bleeding all around you. You find people suffering, but they’re hiding in silence like you did.
My children offered an invitation and still do multiple times in a day. It’s an invitation to resurrect the painful truths that had to awaken the inner voice that ached for honesty to creep in and feel alive, even if painfully. They provide the courage to model not only the acceptance, tolerance and love we give to others, but offer ourselves. I don’t want my children to grow up being afraid to be heard and seen for whoever they are. This is my journey towards living and mothering honestly.
For those of us who feel sentenced to pretend, you know that sometimes it feels like you’re living life laying down. Those whispers of unworthiness can pierce us. This is about rising above the shame and resurrecting the grace in all of us to permit spaces of truthful triumphs. I want to support other women and mothers who I know are screaming to mother honestly and live loudly. Even if you haven’t received an invitation, accept mine, because I believe we’re all worth it. Come. This invitation has no judgment and in fact, your brave company is what I find to be more empowering and enjoyable anyway. Let’s stand resurrected together.
In Love & Truth,
Song is titled “Worth Fighting For,” by Emily Hearn