This week I had a breakdown. A series of them actually. I spent the better part of the past few days falling apart, feeling more lost than found.
Dissolving into puddles of tears as wise women witnessed and held space for my contagious — but entirely unintentional and uncontrolled — vulnerability.
Drowning in a turbulent sea of confusion and self-doubt.
Putting myself back together only to fall to pieces again.
I’m 177 days and 27 installments into Contagious Vulnerability 2020, a weekly series chronicling my journey of personal transformation live as it’s unfolding.
You’d think that at this stage in my heroine’s journey, I’d be past the breakdown phase. Past the crises of confidence. I certainly thought so.
Personal Growth is Not Linear of Predictable
But the reality is that personal growth is not linear or predictable and the journey of becoming an authentic, fully-awake, fully-expressed human is a messy business and not for the faint of heart.
The breakdown was the same one I wrote about in “The Other Side of Fear”, the piece that revived the Contagious Vulnerability Project at the beginning of 2020. How to realize my soul’s purpose and bring my gifts to the world in an aligned, authentic, and financially sustainable way. How to make the personal professional.
It was like I’d gone on this epic six-month-long journey of transformation only to end up right back where I’d started.
Don’t Shortchange the Breakdown to Get to the Breakthrough
The original working title of this piece was “Breakdown to Breakthrough” but as I reflected on it, I realized that I was rushing the breakdown.
Rushing to find the silver lining.
Rushing to put myself back together rather than sitting with and taking the time to curiously explore the newly exposed pieces of me.
Shortchanging the breakdown to get to the breakthrough.
When we breakdown, there's always such a rush to “fix” things. To get back to “normal”. To “get back on track”. We’re currently witnessing this at a macro level as we rush the myriad societal breakdowns occurring all around us in an attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy.
What a waste of a perfectly good breakdown.
Breakdowns Present Opportunities
Each breakdown at the individual or collective level presents an opportunity. An opportunity for transformation.
An opportunity to become more than we were.
An opportunity to reimagine ourselves and our world.
An opportunity to create a new and improved normal that learns from the mistakes of the past rather than recreates them.
Breakdowns Break Us Open and Reveal Hidden Gems
The breakdown breaks us open. Revealing hidden gems we couldn't see before. What lies beneath the surface are our gifts for the world.
Breaking down — being cracked open — shines light into our deepest darkest places to reveal buried treasure. Allowing for the discovery and witnessing of our hidden gifts.
If we’re so focused on putting the pieces back together — back to the way they were — we miss the opportunity for transformation. The gift of the witnessing.
The opportunity to reflect, explore, reimagine.
Finding Beauty in the Breakdown Means Being Uncomfortable
It takes immense courage to stay in the breakdown long enough to discover its inherent beauty and gifts. Breakdowns are deeply vulnerable states. Mining the breakdown to find the beauty means sitting in that vulnerable, uncomfortable, unknown place long enough for the revelations and emergence to happen.
Our invitation in these moments of disintegration is to befriend and open our hearts to the unknown. To look for the beauty in the breakdown.
We are not broken down so much as broken open.
We are not really broken at all but merely disassembled.
Breakdowns Offer Us a Choice
At the point of breakdown, we face a choice. We can retreat in fear — choosing to go backwards to try to rebuild what was — or we can courageously be in the breakdown, exploring the pieces of ourselves with loving curiosity to chart a course forwards that reimagines the components into a whole greater than its individual parts. One far greater than its previous incarnation.
In the breakdown, you will meet yourself as if a stranger in a strange and unknown landscape. When you meet a stranger in strange lands, you have the greatest opportunity to see yourself with fresh eyes.
Be curious about the strange you that you encounter in the breakdown. Approach them with kindness and curiosity, patience, and open-mindedness. They carry bountiful gifts to fuel your awakening if you’re patient enough for them to be revealed to you.
This is the beauty in the breakdown.
Previously on Contagious Vulnerability:
Next on Contagious Vulnerability: