Is it even possible to take an honest photo of ourselves?
A few days ago, I published here a chapter from my upcoming book Do Awesome Broken on inspiration. My favourite part of that piece is this –
“Don’t seek greatness, expertise or uniqueness in the hopes it will inspire others. Your knowledge is useless if they don’t feel you’re accessible. Don’t bother trying to know more on your topic than anyone else, simply seek to grow your capacity to be honest and authentic and your willingness to be vulnerable. Nobody was ever encouraged by a lie, or a liar. When people feel they have connected with your true spirit, it will bring them to life in ways both you and they cannot even imagine.”
Over the past year, I have experienced more pain in my relationships than in the forty six or so years prior. Oh, I’ve had my share of marriage and family problems in the past, don’t you worry, I’ve not been wrapped up in cotton wool, but those conflicts and misunderstandings are kind of to be expected, right? But this is different.
In the past year, there has been pain I didn’t even think was possible to feel related to people I’m not related to. Over and over. And it still hasn’t stopped. I’m in it right now. It just keeps coming. And I am in pain.
When we’re in pain, well, when I’m in pain, my instinct isn’t to want to put myself anywhere where I can be hurt again. In fact, being in emotional pain makes a person want to hide from the world and other people. Thing is, I’m a writer. And I want my writing to be read. In a way, I want to be seen. I believe my work is to put my writing where people will read it. I believe deeply in the principles of inspiration, and it’s a process I wish to participate in as both a spiritual discipline, and a personal and professional vocation.
But to be honest, all my guts are telling me right now what I need to do is HIDE. When we are in pain, and that pain has not made us beautiful or transformed us into something better, we want to remain UNSEEN.
I don’t want to show you me, I don’t want you to see my face. I don’t want you to see my pain, or my ways of dealing with that pain, or how ugly I can be when I’m processing it. I don’t want to tell you the things people have said about me, or show you the ways they claim to have been failed by me, because I don’t want to be seen as a victim. That’s not my story. I want you to hear the story of my truth, truthfully told.
And the truth is this. I am not a victim of anyone, or anything. I am the facilitator of my experience. Things happen through me, not to me.
But this doesn’t mean some of those things don’t hurt like hell and make me want to….well, I don’t want to tell you all the things I’ve thought of in the dark, my friends.
I know you feel pain too, and you want to hide, and you don’t want people to see you, because pain feels ugly and shameful and tells us we are the only one, and nobody is as less-than or broken as we are. I know you, like me, sometimes feel everyone is way more fixed-up and together than you, and others have the answers and you do not.
I have a victim story, and it’s all I can do not to judge that story as less-than and wrong and shameful too.
Oh, I can’t even tell you how much I want to hide right now.
But I look into the eyes of my truest essence, my original, authentic self, my Small and Pure, and because I know her, because she is me, I see her pain and I know how much she wants to hide. And for the most part, I help her. I hold her and allow her to bury her little face in my breast, lay her head in my lap, and I say, hide here, with me, my love. You are safe, and you are loved. I will always love and protect my Small and Pure, because whether it is true or not, there are times when she feels all she has is me, and I will not challenge that belief while ever shame has her cornered in the dark. My work when she is swathed in shame is to bathe her in my love and acceptance and believe her, whatever she says to me, whether or not it is real, or just a reflection of her pain.
You are enough, I tell her, and you are good. You are safe, and everything is going to be all right.
But like all big people who comfort small, pure people, I do not know for sure it will be all right, but I know I am all right, and so it is true, even if I feel uncertain about what will happen next to both my Small and Pure, and me.
And I hold her face in my hands and I say, look at me, sweetheart.
Look at me. Show me your face. I want to see you.
To take the face and look into the eyes of a person in pain is to say, trust me, I see you, and I choose to see whoever you show me now, even if that face is uncertain, ashamed and afraid. It is a burgeoning trust. It is faith.
And it is in this way I lift my face from my shame and my pain, and I show you my face.
It isn’t what my self wants to do. I want to hide and show you what I’m good at, give you more clever writing and show you more pretty pictures. But that would not be the truth. And nobody was ever encouraged by a liar, or a lie.
This is my true face. This is the face of process. This is my actual life. This is an act of faith.
I have vowed in my work to tell the truth. I found a pretty photo of myself to share with you, but that is not the face of this day. So I decided to show you the face of this day.
This may be the end of my Facebook page. Lol.
Selah, my friends.