Yesterday I began working on a vulnerable piece of writing. I’m going to finish it, but I can’t bring myself to do it today.
Writing about my life on Medium has been a beautiful opening for me. Not only is it cathartic to share my truth; it’s also incredibly healing to read stories from other writers who are doing the same thing. We write about our trauma, self-image, deaths, loss, illnesses, and heartbreaks. As we do this, we’re healing ourselves little by little.
Most days, I can write from my heart, but some days, like today, I can’t go there. Days like this, I feel too raw and open.
Admitting I feel too raw to write, is probably the healthiest self-care tool I can use today.
It’s a measure of strength, not weakness. There’s a time for speaking and a time for silence.
I know what you’re thinking; we’ve had too much unbearable silence.
There’s been too much sweeping everything under the carpet, and way too much denial. This operates not only within the confines of our hearts and homes but as a collective as well. The only way to turn this around is to get comfortable with the truth.
Dr. Brene Brown says that breaking the silence and embracing vulnerability is the only antidote to shame. It’s a vulnerable thing to turn the light on our traumas and pain, but silencing this shame only feeds it. When you speak up, shame can’t survive.
But we must tread lightly, my friends.
We can kick the doors to our silence open, but we also need to choose those moments wisely. Do it too soon, and you risk being vulnerable without a ground to support you.
Part of self-care is knowing how to use your tools.
We go to therapy, take medicines, journal, eat well, meditate, use our words, practice compassion, and know our limits. It’s true that we commit to growing and developing our tools so we can find a happier existence. But we also gather these tools to help build the foundation we use to stand on when life gets really scary.
When I opened my computer today and saw the draft of my vulnerable story, my gut immediately lurched. I felt pins and needles and cold all over.
In the past, before I understood this reaction, I would have ignored that feeling and pushed through. I would have written something that may not have been true for me and then put it out in the world. This would have felt like flying haphazardly through a darkness that I can’t navigate.
It’s not safe to operate this way. It’s the same as driving a car at night with no lights, no seatbelt, no map, and no brake. We need safety measures, a solid foundation, and a compass. Before we expose ourselves and bravely speak up, we need a ground beneath us to help catch us if we fall.
Today I felt the ground beneath me too thin and not strong enough to hold me should the shit hit the fan.
Then, I felt my intuition confirm that this was true. But these truths are not even the most essential tool I’m using right now.
You can have all the gut feelings in the world, but if you don’t know how to trust and listen to them, they can’t help you.
I’ve had strong intuition my whole life. I’m not a stranger to knowing when something feels a little off. But when it comes to listening to myself; that’s a tool that’s somewhat new and needs more time to develop.
One of the side effects of trauma is that you lose your ability to believe yourself.
You also lose the ability to know what’s true and what’s not. You think your feelings are wrong, your thoughts are who you are, and your demons are real.
Each of us has a unique knot that we have to unravel to get to the core of who we really are. My truth reveals itself to me in ways that only I can understand and it’s taken the better part of a decade to find that.
I have countless examples of times when I had a strong intuition but chose not to listen because I wasn’t sure if it was true. This resulted in tons of mistakes; some more serious than others. Thankfully, these errors were sign-posts directing me back to where I needed to go. Yes, it’s true that mistakes can be a good thing.
Over the years, I’ve made a commitment to learning how to trust my intuition, my gut feelings, and my truth. It’s such a small thing but has enormous repercussions. This is how we protect and nurture ourselves. This is also how we come to know and rely on the limits and stretch of our boundaries.
I wish I could impart a step by step path as to how I learned to trust myself.
But the truth is, I bumbled along through a winding road that had me lost a million times and swearing at the only map I had. I couldn’t retrace my steps if I tried. Somehow I got here, along with a bunch of scrapes and bruises from the journey.
What I can offer, is my support, my encouragement and my words in telling you that you’re not alone. There are countless people on the same journey, all committed to finding their way through a dark path. Think of them as you travel and know that we’ll meet each other on the other side somehow.
We can have a picnic and share our war stories. I can tell you about the time I got lost through a particularly lonely night and how I managed to get through it intact. You can tell me about a similar time you had and how you handled it differently. We can celebrate and learn from each other and give a high-five to our successes.
Today, I’m successful at listening to my gut.
I want to celebrate that and share it with you. Tomorrow, I’ll get back on the saddle and see if I can’t find the courage to be vulnerable with my story. But I’ll only share if it feels right and good.