Life has been hard lately. Emotionally, I want to become a turtle and stick my head and limbs in my shell and turn the lights off. But, I know too much. I know the darkness is still waiting on the outside of that shell no matter how much I pretend it’s not.
“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it”. -Albus Dumbledore.
I have an imperfect gift of numbing pain. I’m so good at it, actually, that I do it on purpose. I know how to take my emotions, package them up in a box and seal that joker shut until I am ready to open it or transport it somewhere else. I am practicing the art of vulnerability and it hurts. It hurts to rip that packing tape off the box and see the shame, perfectionism, self-protection, hurt, pain, regret, selfishness, and grief that have been locked up tight and protected.
“Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living” -Brene’ Brown Daring Greatly.
Exposing my emotions reminds me of that dream where you show up to school or work without any clothes on and everyone is staring at you, but there is no escape…so pretty much, the most uncomfortable position you can find yourself in. I’ve come to realize that I tie my emotions to my self-worth. When I am happy and joyful, feeling is easy and I pride myself on knocking this life thing out of the park, but let those negative emotions step up to bat and my identity begins to morph into them and shame takes up residence.
“Most of us buy into the myth that if it’s a long fall from “I’m better than you” to “I’m not good enough”- but the truth is that these are two sides to the same coin. Both are attacks on our worthiness.” Brene’ Brown Rising Strong
There is a comfort for me when me when I take on shame and self-loathing as part of my being. It helps me cope with that feeling of vulnerability. “I’m not worth much, so I am not worth feeling much”. That comfort takes the pressure off and allows me to stay on deck instead of putting my two feet into that batter’s box; looking the pitcher in the eye and trusting my own judgment of what to do with the baseball as soon as it leaves his hand.
“Owning our stories means reckoning our feelings and rumbling with our dark emotions-our fear, anger, aggression, shame, and blame. This isn’t easy, but the alternative-denying our stories and disengaging from emotion-means choosing to live our entire lives in the dark. When we decide to own our stories and live our truth, we bring our light to the darkness”.
I went camping this past weekend and as I was sitting by the lake, I noticed a family of turtles. My goal on this trip was to self-reflect and be alone in nature with myself and my feelings. This little turtle family, a mama, daddy and four little turtles, hung out with me the entire afternoon. I knew God had placed them there for some sort of symbolism, but it wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized what it was. If we choose to live like turtles and pull our most vulnerable parts in our shells at the first sign of threat, we will never be our most authentic self. We won’t know true connection until we decide to we expose our most defenseless selves to the world, lean into vulnerability, and risk getting hurt.