I'm in the midst of what the shame researcher Brené Brown calls a "vulnerability hangover." Apparently that happens when one goes forth, as I have done with this blog and in other ways lately, with their most authentic self, warts and all. After the glow of the honeymoon fades, reality sets in. The real reality. Not the sanitized hallow-ringed version.
I'm seated at the computer with the scars of my past behavior right beside me. I no longer pretend that they don't exist in hopes that they will, in fact, go away. I have invited them along in the hopes that I can somehow integrate them into the total package. And by integrate I mean, make go away. Just kidding. That didn't work either. By integrate I mean make them part of the fabric of my being so that they then fade into the background--and then disappear.
You get where I'm going, right? Things don't go away that are inside us. Memories, wounds, unexpressed creativity. If they sit long enough without attention, they take over like my kids. They get jacked up on some polluting substance like Mountain Dew or Merlot and then just start ransacking our lives. Then we are in fact doomed to be lead by our weaknesses rather than informed by them.
Case in point: I was at a friend's house the other night. I'm socially anxious. At first, It was just me and her. Then other people that I either barely know or don't know at all start pouring in one after the other. I was drinking a glass of wine. I was hungry and stressed. I started showing my ass because in my anxiety, I drank more than I should have on an empty stomach. I started talking smack in front of these people. My weakness lead the way. My social anxiety tripped me up.
I saw that the book Quiet is on the New York Times Bestsellers list. It's a book about the power of introverts. I am an introvert. Funny as it may seem, I am most comfortable in that quiet alone space. Had I been more familiar with the topics in that book at the time of this encounter, I would have been more comfortable being who I am: an introvert who really likes to listen rather than blather. Just sit and listen. I don't need to be seen in order to be. It's just me doing what I like to call the "Worthiness Shuffle." That's when I keep dancing until somebody says I'm good enough. The most embarrassing dance on Earth since Elaine quit Seinfeld.
Sitting with the reality of my actions yesterday felt the same as the time I ran over the spikes at Hertz. My Aunt Mary D and I were going through the San Francisco airport rental car exit. I was following my parents out and at the last second, I got scared that my Dad would get out of my sight and I'd be lost. I love Aunt Mary D, but I didn't think she felt that comfortable navigating--without the benefit of a map. So I gunned it like a dumbass to make it under the arm before it came down. The memory of the sound of that whole scenario produces a recurrence of PTSD. Yepper. I'm one of those people. Try sitting with that reality for 11 years. It makes me squirm with vulnerability.
But yesterday, I did something different with the uncomfortable memories and feelings from the night before: nothing. I just observed them. I didn't numb at all. I just watched them pass across the screen of my consciousness without really crumbling or judging or disappearing into a sweet roll or another glass of wine. Just sat. Excruciating, really.
Something remarkable happened. After a 3 hour drive, a peace descended upon me that I have not enjoyed in quite a while. This peace is sort of mathematical in nature. Being Okay=not perfect (not supposed to be/perfect) or OK=NSB(P)/P this cancels out perfect entirely from the equation.
I can put my tap dancing shoes away today. Maybe even get my riding boots out...
...if I can find a babysitter brave enough.