I carry more than a fair share of baggage with me in life and although I have done lots of work to unload it and deal with is in appropriate ways it still creeps up once in a while. We moved a few years ago to a new state and when we did I lost the support system I had spent seven years building at our old home. Although I knew it was very important that I had one I didn’t bother to build a new one until I crashed and burned. Oops, lesson learned again.
I found myself at a very low weight that I hadn’t seen in many years with anxiety through the roof. My heart was beating erratically, I had pain with no explanation, emotional craziness and I wasn’t functioning as the mom I want to be. I was checking out way too often.
I went to the doctor for some help. And I entered therapy again.
Things in my life that were completely out of my control were giving me great anxiety and I had no way to safely deal with them so I spiraled down very quickly. A little help from the doctor and a booster shot from the therapist gave me what I needed to get back on track.
I’ve had setbacks before, but this was a bad one. And I had a lot of work to do to keep it from happening again.
One of the things that was significant in my search for answers were these TED talk by Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. I posted about the vulnerability one yesterday. And I said then, I dare to be vulnerable IF it helps me live life wholeheartedly. Because that life sounds so very good.
Well, Brene goes on to explain where true vulnerability starts (you can listen to that TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame). And it isn’t pretty. It starts with your shame.
After listening to this I thought, “Oh, I can be vulnerable, but maybe not with my shame. I take it all back, I would rather live in a cave. Forget the wholehearted living thing.”
But truthfully, I do dare to live courageously and deal with my stuff so that I can live wholeheartedly. For me, for my husband, for my children, I dare. So I set out to rebuild my personal board of directors.
I searched my current contacts for people I might feel comfortable being vulnerable with. I reached out to them and started the process of building the friendship deeper. Some were a bust – that’s ok. Others were a gold mine. And I love them for it!
Brene Brown uses different friends for different situations. When a kid or mommy situation arrises she calls those friends. When a work situation arrises she calls on those friends.
I’m a girl with only a few friends at this level. I need about 2 or 3 so they need to cover just about all areas. I have to keep it close you know.
I built a new support system in about a year’s time and today it is working well. I have 2 (maybe 3) people who know my “stuff” and I can call anytime for help. A pre-requisite of mine was that they had to be vulnerable with me too. I don’t need a listening ear, I need people in this fight with me living vulnerably and open with their shame as well. Having a bunch of friends listening to your stuff who appear to have no stuff is not encouraging at all.
In Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” she talks about using her friends to bounce things off of immediately after she feels the shame. She urges you to never let shame sit there festering inside you, tearing you down. The longer that goes on the worse the ramifications are.
Shame grows in darkness.
For me, shame feels like rocks in the bottom of my tummy. When it first comes on it feels heavy and sick. And if I don’t expose it to the light, talk to someone about it, it will grow and destroy – quickly. This is when I call on my girls. The faster the better.
Let’s say I am visiting a friend and they say something that really cuts deep. And it stirs up all my old pain. They may, or may not, have meant to hurt me, but they did nun-the-less. And it reminds me of my feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable and scared. I hear things like, “your not good enough, you need to be better, do more.” So when I get in the car, I send a quick text or make a phone call to ask for prayer and a little time to talk. Then I pray and ask God to remind me of how He thinks about me.
As soon as light is shed on your shame it knocks the legs right out from under it. Your friends can shed truth on it, God will blow it up with His truth every time, and all of a sudden it isn’t growing anymore, it’s dying.
I wish I did this well every time. But, no chance. It takes work and courage and vulnerability. Some days I possess more of these qualities than others.
But I can say undeniably that when I deal with my shame well it is life-giving. The benefits are immediate.
I am enough. I am strong. I am courageous. I am loved.
Dare greatly with me to live vulnerably in your shame so that you may live wholeheartedly.