When I first started this blog a few months ago it was because I knew I needed to speak my truth. I had gotten messages in a number of ways in the months leading up to beginning to blog that let me know in no uncertain terms that this was what I needed to do. And it was pretty darn scary!
I have spent so much of my life in fear of others being upset with me that I have censored everything I say in the hope of avoiding conflict and disapproval and, ultimately, rejection. To actually say what is true for me felt like the hugest risk in the world.
I began by only sharing my blog with one community I belong to on Facebook where I felt my intention of being authentic, and the vulnerability that required, would be recognized and honored. I felt reasonably safe (but still pretty scared) sharing my blog there.
Over the past two months I have become comfortable enough to share my blog posts on my general Facebook status. I have gotten only positive feedback and comments, and that has helped me feel more confident in sharing my writing more widely.
I decided that I would combine my first 25 or so blog posts to create a book that I am self-publishing. The book will be offered for sale on my website (as well as other places) and that will open up my vulnerability in a different way: my clients and potential clients will now be reading about the real me in all my glory – and all my foibles and fears. I have reached a point where, for the most part, I feel comfortable with this, too.
So, I’m going merrily on my way, feeling good about speaking my truth and not all that vulnerable about it anymore until…
In the past week a number of thoughts and situations have arisen that have challenged me to be authentic in circumstances where it feels much more risky and scary. It began with the questions about what (if anything) I should share with my mother. See yesterday’s post: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/are-authenticity-and-compassion-sometimes-mutually-exclusive/
I think this fear then triggered other opportunities to evaluate and decide how real I am willing to be. On Monday I wrote about something that happened at church the previous day. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that there are a number of people from my church who are my friends on Facebook and they would potentially read this post, until one of my church friends commented yesterday that she had read it.
I immediately got worried that since this post talked about an interaction I had with someone from church who was identifiable by church members (even though I didn’t name her directly) that others would think I was indiscrete in sharing my experience.
Then I got an email from the woman who is editing my blog posts for the book. One concern she raised is that in several of my posts I talk about my ex-husband, and not in a flattering way. Do I really want to publish this for others (like my son) to read?
Suddenly I’m back where I was six months ago – and the rest of my life leading up to then. I’m evaluating what I think others’ reactions will be and letting my fear of that govern what I do or don’t say.
Additionally, I’ve developed a tickly cough in my throat in the past week. You may wonder how this is related to the question of when, what and how much to censor. Back in December I began seeing an acupuncturist because for most of my adult life I’ve had a chronic cough, and last fall it began getting even worse.
What I learned from the acupuncturist is that the fifth chakra governs the throat, and that this cough was about not speaking my truth. This is one of the messages I received that led to me starting my blog. My cough had been resolved a few months ago for the first time in my memory. And now it was back – just when I’d started questioning speaking my truth. A coincidence? I think not.
Obviously I am being given another opportunity to choose whether I want to continue being authentic or give in to my fear of rejection.
I woke up at three this morning with all these thoughts running through my head. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to get up and write my thoughts instead. I first checked Facebook where I had posted to my trusted group (where I first shared this blog) asking for feedback on yesterday’s post: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/are-authenticity-and-compassion-sometimes-mutually-exclusive/
I had received a response from a friend that I first met at the happiness coaching program in New York in November. As always, her input went right to the heart of the matter and really crystallized for me what my dilemma is: do I act from authenticity or from fear?
One point she made took me back to my first authentic experience in New York: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/my-authentic-experience-in-new-york-the-beginning-of-the-rest-of-my-life/. What kind of relationship do I want to have with my son? Do I want the same relationship I’ve had with my own mother? Or do I want him to feel free to be who he really is and tell me how he really feels? What am I modeling for him – and with him?
This really hit home for me, and made my choice a clear one. I want a different relationship with my son than I’ve had with my mother. That means I have to be different than I have been in the relationship with my mother. I have to be authentic. I have to be vulnerable. I have to allow my son to feel however he feels about me and about the world without trying to manage his feelings.
By extension this is how I need to be with my mother, as well, if I want a different relationship with her. Be me. Say what is true for me. Deal with the consequences.
And by further extension, this is how I want to be in the world. I want to be accepted or rejected for being myself. Eek! I can’t believe I acknowledged the possibility of rejection for being authentic, but it is part of the equation. A scary part maybe, but still the reality.
Am I up for it? Yes. I have already started down this path of authenticity and vulnerability and I’m not willing to stop now.
I spent the first half of my life trying to avoid rejection by saying and doing all the right things, and in the end I haven’t been able to avoid rejection at all. So what do I have to lose?