Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Connection Anyway

If I had to guess, I'd go out on a limb and say we all have a weird relationship with transparency.

We deeply want to be seen and heard and known and loved, but we don't want to be exposed, judged, mocked, minimized, or marginalized.

Connection vs. Condemnation. Showing myself is always a tug or war between these strong drivers.

Hi, my name is Blair and I'm a recovering People Pleaser. It's been about five minutes since the last time I freaked out about what someone thought. I probably fret more about judgement than four humans combined. It's redonkulus. But in all this fretting and actin' a fool, I have discovered a powerful key that lets Connection beat Condemnation every time.

Here it is: Acknowledge that Condemnation is probably going to yank you off your feet. Brace yourself. Roll with it. Then pick up that rope and run for Connection anyway.

We will be judged... but we may be loved.

There will be haters... but we may find community.

Snarky will almost definitely get lobbed our way... but truth may touch brave hearts.

We will fear and want to hide again... but we may grasp freedom and start walking with new beauty.

I read a quote from Brene Brown which is so perfect: "When we deny out stories they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending." Own it. Own the Condemnation and then tell it who's boss. Step right over Condemnation and into the loving arms of "Connection Anyway."

Sometimes we choose vulnerability. Sometimes it chooses us, blindsides us, embarrasses us in public.

Story time at the library is always a great opportunity for me to risk some vulnerability with this family of hoodlums. A few weeks ago we braved story time again. The wild man behavior from E-Money was ludicrously extreme. All the bad things happened. I got ALL OF THE SIDE EYE from ALL OF THE MOMS. It culminated in him intentionally slashing a few pages out of a book while glaring at me like, "Whatcha gon do now, Biach?!"
By the time we got to the car I was a quivering, angry, shamed mess. By the time we got to our friend's house for picnic lunch, I was in full on panic attack mode. Sobbing. Weird substances coming out my nose. Breathing into a paper bag. (The over-reacting is strong with this one.)

I was physically unable to exit the car, but my friend climbed into the passenger seat with a box of tissues. All my instincts were yelling, "Noooo! Don't see me like this. No one can see me like this!" (Condemnation.) She just gave me a tissue and said, "I don't know what to say, but we see you. And we love you. You may be a mess, but your struggle makes room for messiness and we are blessed. You are a strong woman fighting a good fight, and you will win." (Connection.)

Such a blessing.

Listen, that struggle was NOT a one-and-done event. What can I say? Panic and moodiness like me. My close community gets to see it on more than one occasion. (They endure with me. Miracle of miracles.)

Months after this debacle, I began fretting that the only thing my friends really knew of me was my struggle. I felt like they didn't know I also had a glittery happy side because I'd been in the trench for so long. That fear kept me down (Condemnation)... until I decided to accept that seasons come and seasons go (Connection). In time, my bright side returned.
This is why enduring relationships (not seasonally migrant friends) are so essential. They know me. They see me. They're not leaving when it's ugly. (And they don't let me run away and hide.) They're welcoming when strength returns. I don't have to work as hard to be transparent, because they've walked with me through many layers of my experience.

Oh, and um, yeah.... Living transparently doesn't mean living with the negative on your shoulder all the time. That's called selfish navel gazing. (It's annoying. We all want you to grow up.) Living transparently just means living outwardly (or "towards others") with whatever your strength allows you to give to the world.

Got Joy? Give some.
Drowning in sorrow? Share the load.
Feeling strong? Reach out a loving hand.
Needing help? Hold the hands extended back to you.

Don't make it all about you.
The struggle and the smile-time... they're for sharing and building connections between people.
This journey is for all of us. Transparent life is how we walk together. So shrug off the condemnation. The haters don't know you. Stay open. Stay soft. Go for connection... every time... any way.

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