Feeling emboldened by my new found resolve to speak my truth at all costs, I attempted to resolve a conflict yesterday with an estranged friend with whom I've been unable to be truthful with. I thought about everything I wanted to say, everything I hadn't been able to say before. I had to do some emotional culling so that I could succinctly express myself without going too far off course into a place where I might say things that would hurt her feelings unnecessarily.
First problem: Identifying my feelings. Uhhhhh....this was surprisingly difficult. I know I'm hurting, but what is the core emotion and why? It helped to write. I was able to connect to the feelings, figure out why I felt that way, and outlined what I wanted to say.
Next problem: Delivering the message. I could tell she wasn't interested in really hearing my truth or holding an empathetic space for my truth when she interrupted me to interject her counter feelings as I was telling her how I was feeling. I said what I felt like I needed to say in hopes that I would feel unburdened, lighter and get the closure that was lacking. I tried so hard to express my feelings in a way that put the responsibility for my emotions on me and not blame her, but I could tell she still felt blamed and defensive and pretty much shut off emotionally.
Next problem: Vulnerability and shame exposed. The result of our conversation felt nothing like resolution or closure, but instead the tearing up scars of old wounds. Not only was I recounting a painful experience and sharing my honesty finally, I had also opened myself up to her judgement, and bared my soul, full of insecurities, fears, and feelings that I have some shame around. I knew I had to do it, and I'm glad that I did, but ultimately, I left just feeling vulnerable and weak.
I know now, being on the other side of the conversation, I was not only trying to tell her my truth, but also seeking validation or acceptance from her. At the very least, compassion and empathy. While she did express moments of sympathy, her overall body language and conversation felt fairly cold and closed.
As the day trekked on, something kept gnawing at me. It kind of felt like disappointment, or regret that I had chosen to be vulnerable with someone who obviously didn't care. Then the familiar feeling of rejection came. Then unworthiness. Then I went into a full blown victimized breakdown, spurred on by the negative self belief mantra that loves to yell at me in these moments: "This is confirmation that you are indeed invisible, unimportant, unworthy, not good enough, Amy. Oh my god what is wrongggg with meeeeee?"
Not one to miss an opportunity to compound my self hate talk, my brain decides to confirm that by bringing up all of the "moments of rejection" files. Experiences that validate and provide absolute PROOF that I am truly nothing special, and in fact, totally undesirable.
And you know I totally believe that shit, every fucking time. And this is what super sucks: It's a lie. Why do I so easily believe the negative self image bullshit when 99% of my life is chocked full of endless experiences that provide a plethora of validation that I am, in fact, not only loveable, but inspirational, interesting, pretty fucking awesome, admired, strong, independent, intelligent, funny, cherished, respected, adored, a great friend, passionate, appreciated, sexy as hell, deep, and absolutely worth loving and fighting for. I am good. I am enough. So why am I so easily convinced I'm not?
As Brene Brown writes in her book Daring Greatly, shame cannot survive empathy. So while I'm sitting there crying my eyes out that I'm a hot insecure mess, I'm essentially just shaming the shit out of myself. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/brene-brown-shame_n_3807115.html
The compassion and empathy I was wrongly expecting my friend to provide, should have been provided from ME. I am the gatekeeper of my beliefs, anyway. I decide what to believe about myself. If I experience rejection or get my feelings hurt, I can choose to feel empathy and self compassion for myself and believe that I am good, regardless of the situation OR I can dive heart first right into the shame spiral of depression and negative self belief.
So here comes my closure I sought yesterday: (cue the big dramatic powerful piano crescendo wherein the fog of confusion lifts, and clarity is left standing there like fucking Santa Claus...)
I am proud of myself for mustering up the courage and self love to speak about my shame and feelings, thereby putting myself at risk of judgement and rejection by making myself vulnerable. I release myself from the trap of powerlessness that comes with seeking approval and validation from others. I love myself, I am loved, and that is enough.
There. That feels better. ;)