I’ve always valued authenticity. Vulnerability comes naturally to me -many times at a price. Most people keep their truest feelings to themselves, preferring to shroud themselves in a facade of ‘I’ve got it all together.’ I have definitely made a few dozen of said people’s skin crawl at my willingness to put it all out on the table.
Our parents and grandparents grew up in a time where children were meant to be seen and not heard. Admitting you were having struggles in your marriage, consumed by an addiction, drowning in debts of your own making – no such secrets were ever shared.
Go to counseling? I don’t want some quack telling me what to do!
Visit an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? Those people are TRUE alcoholics, I don’t really have a drinking problem.
Go to church? Pray? What does ‘God’ have to do with anything? It’s hard work that gets you where you need to be. Self sufficiency is what I’m after – you can’t depend on anyone but yourself.
And silently we suffered. Our families suffered as things were swept under the rug.
Husband having an affair? At least he pays the bills and the children don’t know. Dad has an anger problem? We don’t talk about that. Daughter tries to commit suicide? Hush! No don’t take her to the hospital it was just a few pills, she’s going through a phase. Just ground her, take away her phone and hide all the pill bottles.
Thankfully our society has come a long way regarding mental health stigmas. Celebrities checking into a rehab that is televised? Progress? Or a mockery of those pursuing true rehabilitation?
I will say I have learned that there is a balance between vulnerability and word vomit. There is a huge difference between sharing for another’s benefit versus selfishly unloading all of your anxieties onto someone.
We all recognize through our social media inundated society it is easy to portray the best side of yourself while you are not even close to living your best life. At least people think I’m living a great life? Right? Right? That’s something isn’t it?
Should you tell every heart wrenching detail of how you were sexually molested as a child with your coworkers beside the hypothetical water cooler? Probably not. Your struggles are yours to tell to those who’ve earned the right to know. But you must tell someone.
The more you’ve healed the more comfortable you will be sharing with a new person that story you used to only write in your diary about.
You will get better at knowing when and who to share with and when to let the past be the past and when to never speak of it again.
With every struggle you will be at varying stages of healing, conquering and maybe just admitting something for the first time. But there is always healing to be had. There is always strength in the struggle. There is always beauty to rise from the ashes and a valley you can look back at as you stand on a new mountain top.
As you peer into that deep gully of darkness you may one day be able to whisper, ‘Thank you, without you I wouldn’t be the gutsy, ballsy, fearless human I am today.’
Gosh darn it don’t stay in that valley. Run through it like a bat out of hell and then use it as rocket fuel to propel you into the light. The glorious light of having survived what you thought would surely kill you.
God will not waste your pain – don’t you waste it either. Your story of survival is meant to minister to those still in the valley – or the family watching helplessly as their father, son, daughter, mother, brother or sister struggles in the valley. If only we could just reach in and pull them out?!
No. A butterfly must go through the struggle of breaking through the cocoon- if not their wings are so weak they cannot fly and give delight to us. Without strengthening their wings in breaking free from their cocoon they cannot fulfill their purpose.
Take a moment and contemplate that and how it relates to your own life. Does it put your struggles in perspective? I hope so.
I struggle. Daily. Moment by moment. I’m on the mountain top then I slip back into valley mentality from the smallest trigger.
Live your mountain top. Live your valley too. It’s in our struggles where are greatest character is formed. Be refined in the fire. Then use that fire to make some huge fireworks and throw a party.
As I peer back into my particular valley today – I say thank you, because without you I wouldn’t be staking my claim to this mountain.