Today, some underground ambivalence was stirring down my belly. I recognize that feeling well now, after a few years of observing what happens in my body.
Visualizing what happens inside of us helps to connect our body, our mind, and our heart. It can be very healing. If I try to visualise it, it’s a dark pulsing blob of grey, dark Indigo blue and some green. A mix of shame, calm and hope.
I put on soothing music to both heal me and allowing me to relax into that process.
Yesterday, in the midst of an insomnia, I decided to respond to two needs that were coming back over and over to my mind for the past week. I wrote messages to two people.
One to clear things up because I was afraid to have hurt her and to have been misunderstood by my lack of clarity.
Another to apologize for my clumsiness and lack of sensitivity in our last conversation, even if I also felt unheard and hurt by the very same conversation.
Both to tell them all the affection I have for them as well.
Authenticity, the practice of expressing the whole of who we are and care for, can be very liberating. But it’s not an easy one.
Wether we set a boundary that is important to us, to express our love or admiration, to say “I don’t know” or “I messed up”, to express anger or disappointment, to share how down we are feeling, to say "Stop!"…
Vulnerability often feels like being very naked, almost dangerous.
And yesterday, writing those conversations, I definitely felt very naked.
The loved one I apologized to was very grateful and loving. She’s having a very hard time with apologies, but she made sure that I knew I was loved and that she appreciated very much my gesture.
The other person was a bit judgmental, interpreted a lot of what I was saying in a way I didn’t expect at all (that showed how little she knew me, maybe even like me), before expressing that, despite appreciating my reaching out, she felt like I was asking too much of her emotionally.
Evidently, my straight forward, introverted-wordy and deeply vulnerable way of interacting was over the top for her, making her feel like I was overwhelming and wanted too much of her.
I thanked her for her honesty, apologized for making her uncomfortable, highlighted that I understood. Then we discussed some more distant boundaries, so she’d feel more comfortable and I was clearer on where we stand.
Both conversations were uneasy.
The first because I was still sad about how it went last time. I was intentionally focusing on how loving she was and nurturing our bond, while welcoming my inner wounded child. Not an easy task.
The second one was painful because even if I understood where she stands, of course, I was disappointed and sad that someone I feel a lot of affection for was needing me to stay away. It brought up some childhood deeply painful feelings of rejection and shame.
Fortunately, this is not my first rodeo. I was quite satisfied of how I handled both talks, and could lick some of my wounds with that feeling of growth on my part. More importantly, I was basking in that serene glow that comes with being authentic.
No matter which way it goes, authentic interactions never leave us bitter the way biting our tongues does.
Sure, we may end up sad, losing people, or feeling deeply disappointed, even angry. But true vulnerability has that way of bringing clarity and connection, either to ourselves, the others, or both. This tends to be incredibly grounding.
I feel so relieved and happy my loved one and I were clear on how much we love and care for each other. It was hard to admit my faults, even more knowing she would probably not see hers. But we're only responsible for and in control of our own words and actions. Focusing on what she “should” have done doesn’t change a thing to how I feel.
But having the courage to apologize anyway helped me love myself a little bit more. I will probably mess up some more in the future, but I taught my inner child that this is okay, I can fix some of my messes. I therefore busted some shame of being imperfect, so I can be relieved knowing there’s little chance I reiterate the exact same mistakes. Shame leaves us rigid and makes us keep messing up the same way over and over. Courage helps us get better next time instead.
With the other one, I realized afterwards that part of me felt deeply relieved to be free of that feeling that by being who I am, I am annoying or overwhelming. I had noticed that familiar restlessness and anxiety, but dismissed it because she’s a great person and I can be a bit much for anyone struggling with their feelings (so let’s be honest : a lot of people, me included sometimes).
If I had been even more authentic, we probably would have clashed earlier. This taught me that I still can dismiss my own feelings for the sake of not “rocking the boat”, nourishing that old toxic fear that I will be too much to handle in any relationship I have.
That feeling is priceless : as painful as it gets, each time I have it and step away from such relationship, I make room for other relationships, where I feel so much more relaxed and appreciated. I also gain even more appreciation for those healthier bonds. The residual pain will shrink with more self-love practices (including writing this) and each time one of those healthy bonds will make me feel loved.
Authenticity is hard to practice. But it also has that magical ability to heal us from isolation and feeling like we are not good enough. As long as we are willing to pay the price of discomfort, fear, and sometimes pain.
I would never trade off vulnerability for the short-term comfort of not having difficult conversations ever again. My insides are not at war anymore. I never feel like our world or others are against me like I used to either. I feel more connected to myself, and to the ones who are willing to be as real with me than ever. Those relationships leave me teary of gratitude and happiness. I never feel like I hate myself anymore. I don’t know you, but to me, that’s damn precious...