As Brene Brown says - "You can't numb the pain without numbing the joy".
Seems like such a contradiction doesn't it? Of course we only want to feel the joy and ignore the pain. That should surely be what it is about? Who in the right mind would want to feel pain. Certainly not me. However, I have learnt the value of feeling the pain in order to appreciate the joy.
My journey with Brene Brown started last November. During one of my numerous insomnia periods I stumbled across her TED Talk late one night. And listened to it 3 times in just over an hour. The next day I listened to it again and wrote it out almost word for word (before I realised there was a transcript of the talk on the page!). I kept going back to it again and again.
First off I'm not one for 'motivational' talks. Over the years I've listened to my fair share of feel good and motivational speakers and come away not feeling any more inspired than I was to start with. However it was different with this talk. Not only does she disclose her own failings and addictions but she also admits to needing to see a therapist in order to get things back on track - brave for somebody 'selling' a product that is intended to motivate. For me having just started out with mine it gave me courage to continue. I didn't have to keep trying to be strong on my own.
For me she didn't preach or lecture. There was no lie that all was going to be okay. I knew there would be pain and I knew I had to accept it as part of my life. In order to take the next steps I needed to feel the pain together with the joy, because the reality was I really wasn't feeling either.
She speaks about vulnerability and shame and how we never feel we are enough. It was my light bulb moment. From years of being emotionally invisible to core people in my life I had subconsciously chosen relationships in which I remained emotionally invisible. I kept fighting for this emotional link with people who were either never going to give to me for selfish reasons or because they were simply incapable of seeing me on that emotional level. And the more I was shut out, the harder I took it and the deeper into despair I fell. I won't say depression because it was never that. It was simply a feeling of never being good enough but not understanding why.
I had to go back over my life. Dig out all the rotten roots. All the moments where I hadn't felt good enough. Understand them and restart. In doing that I understood that in all my relationships I have to allow that natural ebb and flow to take its course. People will hurt me and I will hurt them back. Mostly unintentionally, but sometimes not. I have to learn to trust people into my circle. As open as I appear on the surface I'm pretty closed off on my inner circle. I've had to learn to relinquish control in my relationships. Something that has not been easy at all. I've learnt it's okay to feel hurt and it's okay now to articulate it. Before I would be too afraid of losing a relationship and would rather bottle it up. Now I understand in order for me to feel joy in that relationship I need to be honest with myself and the other person. Feeling a certain way doesn't make you or the other person evil. It makes you human. Owning it makes you vulnerable. Being vulnerable means you are alive.
It has been a year long journey so far. A year ago I had no idea who I was or where I was headed. I still feel like that at times but I have a clearer understanding of myself today. I am a brave, strong woman who has faced some major struggles in life, struggles I would not even wish on an enemy. On that journey I have fallen, more times than I care to remember, but I have always stood back up again. This year at times it was hard but finally allowing myself to be vulnerable, to stop trying to always be brave and strong alone, meant that I could accept help where I would never have before.
Using words of Brene Brown, I've learnt that I am worthy of love and belonging. That I need to treat myself with compassion as well and let go of what others expect of me and be who I am. I've learnt that I need to be willing to take the first step, knowing there are no guarantees in this life we live. The only guarantee we have is our own passion to live life life fully engaged every moment.
Leaning in to feel it all.