“We’ve all fallen, and we have the skinned knees and bruised hearts to prove it. But scars are easier to talk about than they are to show, with all the remembered feelings laid bare. And rarely do we see wounds that are in the process of healing.” Brené Brown
This part of healing is the messy middle, the place where shit goes down and if you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to keep your hard-earned, built-up facade of “I’ve got my life pulled together, thank you” as the story everyone believes.
So, what happens when all those broken pieces that you’ve been hiding no longer hold their glue? Ugly things happen. Like, those things you fear the most become your shadow. And your ego is screaming for you to GET OUT and you’re screaming back that you DON’T KNOW HOW TO ESCAPE YOUR OWN LIFE. And then the lights go out. I’m not talking about a little power outage with the gleaming full moon to rely on. I’m talking about a kidnappers black knapsack over your head and you’re dumped deep into a cave in the middle of nowhere. The darkness that nightmares are built on.
Most people have had a moment or chapter in their lives like this. Depression, a broken heart, the loss of a child or an addiction that tried to steal your soul. And if you can relate to this darkness, you can probably also relate to the incredible resistance to show your weeping wounds as an act of vulnerability and openness. Who wouldn’t rather wait until it has healed, you’ve learned the hard lessons and come out a wiser soul? Speaking from experience, I will be the first to raise my hand to that.
This will be my 8th blog. And it will the messiest one yet. And I feel a little like throwing up, because I want to keep my ratty security blanket wrapped around my heart. I want to hide the truth. I want to tell you a story about a really strong, courageous woman who knows exactly what she’s doing and can give advice like a boss. This is the role I have desperately clung to for the last 5 years (probably longer), spit polishing the surface so no one could see the murky underbelly. So, why is this blog being written? Because my story refuses to stay inside. I’ve started having dreams that literally demand that I open up. These dreams have told me that it is as much for my healing as it is for others. Because others need to know that they’re not alone in their brokenness. These dreams have asked me to crack myself open while going through the messy middle so you can see the pain, and know this depth doesn’t actually drown you. At least I’m hoping it doesn’t.
If you’ve followed any of my previous blogs, you are familiar with the stories I told, the silver lining I wove into all I said. Many of you cheered me on and called me brave and strong. For those that don’t know me, here is the breakdown: I had a baby, and 8 months later was pregnant with nugget #2. A week after my 31st birthday and at 6 months pregnant, I found out I was dealing with an aggressive form of stage II breast cancer. I immediately dove into an Olympic-sized pool of fear that drowned my every intuitive instinct. It was a brutal lesson that looked from the outside like a healing happy ending (that story can be found here) with lessons learned and a farewell wave to all things cancer. Because if you look healthy and your blood work shows the right numbers and the doctors that spent $200,000 on medical school tell you that your fine, you’re healed….right?
I’m sure Life smiled with compassion when I bought that line. Because when someone else tells you the end of your story without you checking those facts out with your own soul, you’re bound to be in for an unfortunate surprise. The funny thing is, I knew. Not in concrete facts or a well-honed intuitive instinct, but in the fact that the story didn’t fit me. I didn’t feel healed. This healing label wrapped around me like a miniskirt 3 sizes too small. I kept trying to pull the hem down to cover all the right places because I didn’t want to offend anyone by flashing them with my uncomfortable feelings of doubt and fear. Because I was told that it did fit.
That healing title kept shrinking every single time I washed it with the hot water of shame and denial. Shame came from the story I told myself. That I was a role model that couldn’t drop the ball. People were watching me, and I needed to show them that I had this whole healing thing under control. And denial is one of shame’s closest friends, allowing my secrets to hide in the shadowy folds of life.
I want to tell you I don’t associate with these shady characters anymore. I want to tell you I’ve amended my story, and I’ve patched up the holes that were sinking my boat. But with honesty and vulnerability as my pledge to you and myself, I won’t lie. I have strings of shame tied on every fingertip and fear laced around every other day. But I have broken up with denial. And while my lifeboat sank long ago, I am managing to swim somewhere. Where am I swimming to, you might ask? I’m not quite sure, but my intuition tells me that I’m heading the right direction.
So, where is all this leading? I have been dealt the cards of stage 4 breast cancer. As my girlfriend Anna said, “Stage 4 just means you need deeper healing. Which also means you need to go deeper to get that healing.” And this time, I’m going all the way down this rabbit hole.