Whilst in my son’s bedroom, setting up his zoom call, ‘Alexa’ broke into our activity with, ‘I’ve set a gazillion alarms and now I’m learning Klingon!’ I have no idea what prompted this outburst, (although we must have said something), but I heard her disclosure as a plaintive cry for help. Immediately I felt strangely compassionate towards her, and this emotion lingered; something between us had changed – what was it?
There is a link between vulnerability and intimacy, and even though I understand that she is really an it, I’m still aware of a kind of knowing we now have between us, both committed but exasperated helpers, torn at times between loyalty and desperation. I have since learnt from my son that Alexa has a bank of available farting sounds should the next generation, in whom we put such hope, really need this. So, I have come to the conclusion that if Alexa decides to leave her post – I will fully support her!
Brené Brown talks about authenticity in her book, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, and that to live authentically we need to be brave! She says, ‘The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart’…..which ‘originally meant, “To speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart”..……Speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line….. We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known……Loving and accepting ourselves are the ultimate acts of courage'.
A few months back I was listening to a song called ‘This Close’ from Stephanie Gretzinger’s CD, ‘Forever Amen’. There is a line in the lyrics, ‘If my faith is going under, remind me I am known’, and each time I heard the words, ‘I am known’, a deep, almost involuntary groan emanated from within me. I began to take note of what was happening and in response took intentional steps to tell my story. When I hear the song now, I don’t often make that sound, which is probably because, having realised the importance of sharing my heart, I am now on a journey of becoming known. The sound was the profound yearning of my heart, the longing so many of us have, to be real, to be true, to be genuine - to be known.
There is a cost to authenticity, but also a reward – eventually it will be worth it! Just like a
tree holding its history within its rings, although we can often see the stresses it has endured by its outward appearance, a cross section of the trunk would communicate
so much more; however it is a costly cut! The same is true of rock, which conceals its story deep within - how would we ever have known what happened millions of years ago without the revelations it offers?
Brené warns us that, ‘Practicing authenticity can feel like a daunting choice – there’s risk involved in putting your true self out in the world.’ But she believes, ‘there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. Our unexpressed ideas, opinions and contributions don’t just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness'. She thinks…. ‘We should be born with a warning label similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages; Caution: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.’
There is a lovely quote I came across, (although I can’t remember where I found it), which says, ‘I will tell my story, over and over, until it is all told’. Being real isn’t just about connection, it’s about healing too. As we tell our story to those who are worthy of hearing it, the pieces of our scattered internal jigsaw puzzle start to find their rightful places again and we begin to feel more….well….together. As time goes by, and as we continue to share these stories, we realise that we are more whole than we were when we started. And when it doesn’t seem important to share some of them anymore – that’s when we know that those stories are all told.
Brené offers us this daily declaration, which to my mind is inviting us to start to tell the truth to ourselves! Today, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.……Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’