An edition of Reflections from the archives!
(We’ve been at this a while, you and I, it seems…I hope you enjoy it)
***Don’t forget to look at the PS below for October 29th, 2020***
What a week. I’ve been talking about authenticity, vulnerability, truth-telling, and bravery of late. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken some huge steps to deepen my relationships with those qualities.
For example, this past week, on Tuesday and Friday, I published two blog posts, called “Hearing Voices” (parts one and two). The title was not euphemistic.
In case you’re not someone who reads my blogs, let me tell you just a bit about these posts. They tell the story of my learning I have bipolar disorder. They tell the story of my learning that what I had always thought of as “inner critics” actually qualify as auditory hallucinations. Needless to say, it was a scary realization, something harrowing to my sense of myself.
We all have stories we tell about ourselves, who we are, what we can and cannot do. We all have stories to make sense of our experiences, and we build those stories into identities. Over time, the limitations we build into those stories become fixed parts of our senses of ourselves.
“I’m too afraid to see a psychiatrist.” “I don’t have the attention span to do that.” “I’m too ashamed to talk to a doctor.”
These are all stories I have told myself. And they are also all stories I am working to change.
I read a quotation today, attributed to Helen Keller: “Although there is great suffering in the world, there is also great overcoming of it.” It’s true. We all suffer. We all have stories. And we have the opportunity to alleviate our suffering. We have the chance to change our stories.
In my case, it takes a combination of things, often gentleness, love, encouragement, faith, and persistence from the outside, as well as gentleness, persistence, love, faith, and courage from the inside.
You have it, my friend. Even if you feel stuck; even if you are stuck in a pattern you wish you could get out of, you have the courage to find the other qualities you need to change—change the story, change the identity, change the suffering.
I am a shockingly big person, my friends. I am terrified of doctors. I have been hurt, physically and emotionally, by doctors since I was young. But I have started seeing a new health care provider, despite my fears.
I have terrible pain in my knees. See fear of doctors above. But I started physical therapy this week.
My brain doctor is closing her practice. She and I have worked together for the last 8 ½ years. I am meeting with a new practitioner tomorrow. I’m terrified.
I don’t mean to say, “If I can do it, you can do it.” We’re all different. My trans* friends have different reasons to be afraid of medical practitioners than I do. My friends and loved ones with undiagnosed chronic illness have yet different reasons. My friends who are sex workers are misunderstood, vilified, and dismissed as having “false consciousness.”
We all have reasons for not doing the things we’d like to and doing the things we don’t want to. (Thank you, Paul of Tarsus.)
Nonetheless, you do have the courage to take one turtle step toward what you want.
You can dare to do the living room dance party instead of being paralyzed by believing you “should” go to the gym. You can dare to open a channel of communication when you’ve been afraid to have a conversation. You can dare to bare your arms or legs in public when it’s warm, even though you’ve been afraid of what people might think.
You can dare to advocate for yourself when it’s called for—or to ask a trusted someone to come to the scary place with you.
This is my list, of course. What is your list? What are you afraid to do, to say, to be?
You have the courage. You are brave. You can do what you are most afraid to do. You can.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” I don’t know about “must,” but I do know that “where there’s fear there’s power.” (Starhawk). I do know that the more I confront my fears of vulnerability and authenticity, the stronger I become.
I wish that same strength for you, beloveds. Blessings to you.
PS – Don’t forget to register for the party! What party? Why, A Toast for the Ancestors! Check it out, and come prepared to listen and share on Octgober 29th at 5:30 Pacific!