Monday, 12 September 2016

The Sharing Rules (or, "I'm broken, not stupid")

I posted an abbreviated version of this on a secret facebook group I am a part of. A tribe of people who are there because they value change and growth and understand struggle. People who seem to be on a journey towards vulnerability, belonging and worthiness.

A journey to truly discover and find bravery to reveal their authentic selves.

These are my thoughts on sharing... 

On being vulnerable. And I posted them in a safe place first, a place where I keep folks are already abiding by the rules.

But then I realized, I am applying these rules in my entire life, with everybody, and they deserve to know the rules of the game.

I had a conversation with a very dear friend the other day and she said to me, "The only difference between us is that you like to open up and share, and I do not". She was being honest. I love this.

But here's the truth, I don't like to share. I like people to think I'm perfect. I like people to see how "together" I have it.

I'm a wife, mom of 4 and business owner.

But I can do this. I can run 2 businesses, keep my home in relative order and keep my husband satisfied by being a wildly sexual woman after a day of snotty noses, spaghetti kisses and the toilet that ALWAYS has poop in it (this is a story for another day).

No. Problem.

But that is a big fucking lie. And you know it.

You know it because you're here, reading this. You are desperately searching to find some flaw, some loophole in my neat and tidy marriage, happy kids and cute, but acceptably crazy life.

You are dying inside to know that you are not alone.

You scan your screen for little hints that might slip through the cracks .... maybe she doesn't have it all completely together ... you know, just like me.

But lately I've found myself committed to cutting the crap. I am done. I am so tired and so depressed and so exhausted of feeling so, so very alone. And I have thrown myself into this, under the bus, at the altar so that maybe I can help one person, even just one, know that they too are not alone.

My motto has become: BE FEARLESSLY AUTHENTIC.

I used to be pretty certain that everyone would appreciate this.

I've gotta tell you though, my new commitment to "authenticity" has brought about some strange and surprising reactions.

Sometimes I walk away and laugh.

Sometimes I cry.

Sometimes I think I will quickly determine how accurate my right hook is.

I am not sure why or exactly what provokes it ... but I cannot stand when people feel fake.

Fake empathy, fake enthusiasm, fake interest.  

It literally makes me crazy.

I understand that there are times in life we need to feel and be something we are not yet. I understand that sometimes we need to put on a brave face when we're scared or a smile when we are falling apart.  These are emergencies.  Times when you can't afford to lose it.

That's not what I mean.

What I am referring to is people who are in such deep denial or disregard of their actual feelings or state or experiences that they can no longer inform their face of the lie. They have convinced themselves they are "fine" or "strong" or "together" .... but the gig is up.

It seeps out.

In word, in tone, in gesture. In feigned empathy or concern. 

True colors are shown in bold, bull-like confidence. In cliches and phrases that tell you they are not connecting with you, they are "handling" you.

I am done with being handled. 

I am broken, I am messy, I am complicated. I am authentic and broken open and willing to share what is hidden deep inside.

But this does not ...

I repeat, THIS DOES NOT apply to people who are NOT ALSO willing to break open and go into their own dark places.
I will not discuss my brokenness with someone who thinks they are whole and can fix me.

I will not share my most vulnerable, real self with someone who hides their flaws and scars and preaches at me. My heart and my spirit are too tender and I've worked too hard to open that up to the scrutiny of someone who is afraid of their own inner self.

Not a chance.

I am broken. I am not stupid.

So it's not that I entirely enjoy sharing. 

I actually kind of LOATHE it ... but I know I have to. 

It was only through people who shared that I was brought "back".  They drew my clunky, broken messy life back through a tiny sliver of light that shone through the darkness. 

And please understand, the reason I write, the reason I do this public display is because the people who saved me are people I HAVE NEVER MET. 

They saved me from afar.  Through blogs and books and virtual communities.  They saved me because they were brave enough to share, to put their stories "out there". 

And so now I too share.

But those who I invite to share back with me must pass the initiation rules. 

They are (basically) as follows:

You must be willing.  You can be terrified.  You can even be silent, but you must be willing to yourself be authentic.

You must tell it like it is.  Not because you are whole and correct. But because you too have hurts and scars and unspeakable joys and can share from a place of deep empathy.

You must be able to keep it real. I can smell falseness from a mile away.  I want nothing to do with that.

You must be journeying.  You must know there is a "journey" to begin with.  You must not believe you have "arrived".

And that is it. 

I do not care where you are on your journey.  But if authenticity and vulnerability and finding a sense of worth and belonging in this big, scary and messy world is something you value, we can share.

If not, that's fine, but you will meet my "outer self" at the door. 

She will show you around the main room, I think you'll find it quite nice.  I will be kind and courteous and polite and I will mind my language and manners and keep my life quiet and orderly for you here in this bright and well-ordered room.

But you do not get to see the basement or the attic or the closets or the dark corners. 

They are off limits for now.  

A day might come where you find yourself looking into the dark corners in your own life.  

At that point, come to me.  Drop everything and run.  Barefoot if you need to.

I will be waiting and we will sit, share, and open up ... we will let small cracks of light into our broken places, together

Bravely forth, 

Jac :)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Dear Husband Thinking of Leaving ...

Dear Husband,

I know that you have been thinking of leaving us.

I don't know if there is someone else.  I don't know exactly when or how you will go.

But I know you've been thinking about it.  Because I have too.

This marriage isn't what we bargained for is it?  It's not a happily ever after.  There's no more spark.

Remember when we used to love each other's company?  Laugh, tease, hang out?

Before sleepless nights and fights over who will get up with the kids.  Before bills that can't be paid and plans that don't work out.  Between exhausting days and broken dreams ... this wasn't what we signed up for, was it?

Or maybe it was.  Maybe they just didn't warn us.

For better or for worse, we vowed.

They like to skip over the "worse" part.  But we know now what that looks like.

Fights about who does more, about how to fold the laundry and where to store the cutting boards. Insidious, lingering fights that lead to tension and snappy, mean comments. 

And silence.  

"Worse" is two ships passing in the night. A marriage that has dissolved into a really cold business arrangement.  Two bodies avoiding each other. Finding their own ways to occupy their time.  Avoiding conversation.

Worse isn't one bad event, a tragedy or a day, although these things may play a role.

"Worse" is a feeling.  A tight gripping around your chest.  A lump in your throat.  A welling of tears that won't go back down.  And then nothing.  A deadness almost, where once there was life and growth and excitement.

So I know that you've thought about leaving me, because I have too.

This life we've built is full of commitments, anchors and responsibilities.  All of them tie us down, make us feel unappreciated, broken.

How did we get here?  Neither of us meant to create this life of burden and struggle.

I know you did not mean to shut me out.  To close me off.  To find new interests.

And I did not mean to lose my body and then withdraw my sexuality and my free spirit.  I did not mean to turn into a judgmental and resentful person.

But we are broken.

Nobody told us this beautiful and holy marriage would break us down into shattered pieces of who we were.

Nobody warned us that this would be the hardest, most grueling battle we would ever fight.

But it did.  And it does.  And that is the point.

You are not supposed to stay with me because it the thing that is the easiest and most convenient to do.

I am not supposed to stay with you for "better" alone.

We are supposed to stay when all we want to do is leave.  When life here is too much to bear.  Too hard, too boring, too unexciting, too stressful, too uncertain, too unsatisfying, too much.

We are meant to be broken.  So broken, in fact,  that there is no semblance of our former selves left.

And then, I think, we can rebuild. Together.  From the ashes we will form something.  Something completely new.  Something that will withstand the fire and wind and the hell that life may bring.

Something that will carry our family through the "worse".

Life fed us a lie Husband, that we are entitled to certainty and satisfaction.

But that is not true.  We are owed no such thing. We are not owed infatuation or ease or comfort.

This marriage is a gift, not because we will always feel from it a sense of happiness, comfort or complete bliss.

This marriage is a gift because it will give us space to be broken (which life will do to us anyways, regardless of whether we reside in a marriage or not).  It will give us a place to share our brokenness.

To connect authentically with someone who can truly say "I am down here, with you.  I feel hurt and shame and vulnerability.  And it feels bad. " 

This may seem depressing, but in fact it is liberating.  These dark places are where we find the deepest, strongest and most intimate connection we can with another human being.  The places where we say, "Can we be broken together?"

And suddenly, like the pieces of a puzzle coming together to reveal the final, bigger picture, we will see what we are here to do, and to be.

I know we are not there yet.  I know that our pieces are scattered and broken and we feel lost and torn apart.

But we would be robbing ourselves of a rich and deep experience if we walked away. We would rob ourselves of connection and relationship.

And so I will not leave.

And I ask you to consider sitting with me a while.  Even if we must sit in silence, staring at our feet on the floor.  Muttering.  Feeling hurt.

It is this hurt, this loneliness, this shame and this disillusionment that tells us ... We belong here.

We are in exactly the right place to bring our brokenness together and discover exactly what this life has for us.

It will be messy.  It will be gritty.  And we will write many terrible chapters before the story comes to a close.

But we will be together.  Broken.  Together.

(For more inspiration and information on reconciling with a life of uncertainty and discomfort, please check out the work of Peter Rollins.  Also, watch the video for Casting Crowns' "Broken Together". 

Also, although our marriage has been very tough, I would never advocate staying in a marriage where there was abuse or violence.  Please seek help if you find yourself in this place.)