This morning I have been contemplating my path of evolving feelings toward my Mom and Dad who are no longer here on earth. As and older, more self-aware individual I can recognize the pain and longing I felt for what it was; my wish to have a perfect relationship with humanly imperfect beings. It took some major soul searching to understand that I have to accept people as they are, or if unable, quietly walk away. For me, walking away is brave and more loving as it gives space to myself and others to be at peace without constant pressure to conform to others’ standards that may not be acceptable. I think of the years I spent trying to make my parents (and others in my life) into what I thought they should be instead of appreciating what they had to offer and… I mourn the time lost. I was constantly looking externally, expecting pieces to fit where I wanted them to instead of looking internally. This external thinking was a great way to distract me from my own wounds, my own faults, and my own part in the equation of a relationship. Yet, I have found that blaming and expecting others to fix your own “stuff” is much, much more painful in the long run (as there is no end) than the initial (and profoundly) painful realization that I am just as imperfect as everyone else. Thus, forgiving myself has opened my heart and mind to forgiving my Mom and Dad and has allowed me to see the many gifts they did give me, such as their own version of love and support. Oh, there are moments where I selfishly still long for what my parent’s couldn’t give me or be the answer to a problem I am facing; however, I remember them both as who they were – imperfectly loving human beings who where just trying to find a slice of peace, love, and happiness in the only way they knew how. Just like me.
“And I feel like I am naked in front of the crowd ‘cause these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know you’ll use them however you want to” Anna Nalik ~ Breathe
As this New Year begins I am thinking about how we often impose our perceptions on other people’s words and conceptualize those words into making sense in our world, rather than asking questions and really, deeply listening to one another. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is difficult enough, but feeling a need to meet others expectations really creates a wedge between true vulnerability and self-acceptance. To live abundantly and joyfully we need deep human connections, and truly connecting with one another requires raw vulnerability. How often do we miss the opportunity for human connection because we are afraid of “being naked in front of the crowd?” I have found my “naked” moments have revealed to me the ability of some open and self-accepting people to not only allow, but also sit comfortably with my vulnerability. On the flip side, some people’s inability to accept vulnerability comes from their own perceptions getting in the way of acknowledging that it is not about them and thus, insecurity ensues.
The desire for meaningful connection can lead us astray if we are trying to fit in and be accepted rather than being open, raw, and understanding. Trying to meet other’s expectations only creates a perpetual cycle of failure and missed opportunities for true human connection. It has been my experience that more often than not, people struggle with accepting raw vulnerability because they are equating it to their own self-worth instead of realizing it is not about them. With that said, it has been moments of raw vulnerability that has led me to the most meaningful relationships in my life. How very difficult that we have an innate need for self-protection of our ego and an innate need for connection, yet the two work like oil and water; they don’t mix. Which leads me to another quote that begs consideration:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
While I have recently found time to breathe deeply and contemplate the past year, I have been reflecting on my inner strength. I am indeed tenacious and passionate about my life and about empowering others to find their own strength within. As I have made my way toward healthy relationships and walked away from detractors, I have found peace and love within my heart and have been embraced by the most incredible friendships I have ever known. As I became free from the shackles of self-doubt and self-hate, my world has been filled with positive relationships and a support network that surrounds me with love and kindness when life throws an inevitable curve ball.
My lessons to share: Go boldly forth with an open heart and let your light shine and your world will bloom in unimaginable ways. When the curve balls come, instead of retreating, move boldly forward and your light will illuminate the way.
To my loving and supportive friends and my amazing children, thank you for sharing your light.