This is Part 2 of this post, so if you missed it, check out Part 1 now.
For most of my life the answer was to hide. Hide my struggles. Hide my pain. Hide my fears. Hide my flaws. Hide my quirks. Hide my dreams. Hide my enthusiasm for wonder and magic. Hide my mistakes. Hide my imperfections. Hide myself. This started as hiding it all from others. It turned into also hiding it all from myself. This started when I was a very young child, as it does for so many of us.
I learned another word for hiding recently; it's called lying. It wasn't used in a way to shame or judge what I'd been doing but to bring it into reality. In my case it went to the extreme and was very dangerous.
I grew to despise myself so much that I was convinced every part of me was ugly and unacceptable.
Always masking my truth and problems and flaws and self grew to be exhausting. I couldn't do it anymore. I also didn't believe I could (or was allowed to) stop doing it.
This led me to my suicide, which of course I also lied about. When others would ask how I was doing, I'd respond as so many of us do "I'm fine. Things are good." Sure, it make sense to respond that way to Tom in the office, but what about family and close friends? Those who want to care about me. I hid from them more than anyone else. I didn't want to "burden" them with my problems or disappoint them with my "failings". I also didn't want to be different or separate from them. They all seemed to be doing well. It didn't occur to me until years later that they might be hiding behind their "I'm fine."
Let me tell you something, that big lie that I've been told my whole life - that I'm not enough - that there is some standard I'm not living up to is bullshit. It's bullshit about me and it is certainly bullshit where you're concerned. I don't even have to meet you to know that you have beautiful qualities, sparks of light in you that don't shine the same in anyone else. I know you have your own story of pain and struggles and frustration and triumph. I know you've felt lost at some point in your life (or many points in your life if you're like me). I know you have sat quietly when you actually wanted to speak out or spoke out when you actually wanted to sit quietly. I know you've sensed there was more for you than just this. I know you've worked really hard for at least one thing in your life. I know you have fears. I know there's something in you that wants to connect more deeply with those in your life. I know you do not want to be held back and weighed down by the judgement of others. I know you want to experience freedom.
I know all of this because it is present in each of us. It's the human experience, and it's meant to be shared - not hidden.
It is our flaws and fears and imperfections that connect us with one another.
It is in our struggles that we find strength.
We are not designed (biologically or spiritually) to be in isolation. There, we are lucky if we survive.
I don't say all of this because it sounds pretty. It has been well-tested in my own life where I've been fortunate enough to connect with thousands of people around the world who reached out to me, hungry for connection the moment I stopped pretending I was fine.
I am frequently called "fearless" for my openness about my life. Truth is, I've found there is no reason to have fear in this area. The vast majority of people are incredibly kind and accepting and longing to come out of hiding themselves.
In fact, 90% of the time I'm met with the same response when I share about my struggles (whether that's my trauma, abuse, disease, double life or the fact that I used to be a total asshole). 9 times out of 10 the person listening quickly jumps in to tell me about a struggle of their own, and they are usually pretty deep. The other 10% of the time is questions to further understand my truth.
I'm not saying we all have to wear our dirty laundry like a cape for the world to see. I do encourage you to find at least one person you're comfortable sharing with and try it for yourself. Stop hiding with at least one trusted person and see what happens. There isn't going to be a big phenomenon that occurs and all of a sudden everyone runs out of their hiding places. It is going to happen one brave person at a time. There's no reason that brave person can't be you. Today.
Broken, Brave & Beautiful,
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