In my last post, I showed you my privates: private pain, private shame, private guilt, and private struggles. I laid it all out there because I believed it would help people. I hit “publish” and almost vomited.
That was 7 weeks ago and I haven’t written another post since. I’ve spent the entire time fighting my way out of a “vulnerability hangover” – a term coined by Dr. Brene Brown to convey the regret associated with pushing the limits of the honesty comfort zone.
To refresh your memory, in the post “3 Years Sober: What It’s Like for Me” I talked about having a form of OCD called dermatillomania. People who have this condition (or it’s twin trichlotillomania, which is hair pulling) tend not to talk about it and as a result feel tremendous shame and feel freakish and alone. (Sound familiar, alcoholics? Any experience with isolation and shame? Anyone?)
I wrote the piece to be brave and try to help people, and guess what? I received a TON of emails from people who said “me too” as they expressed shock and relief that they are not alone. Most people did not know this burdensome condition even has a name let alone support communities and even a Facebook group.
With gobs of appreciative feedback, why then the vulnerability?
Back to Dr. Brene Brown for answers. (Sidebar: Brown’s books “I Thought It Was Just Me”, “Daring Greatly”, and “The Gifts of Imperfection” are fantastic tools for recovery and personal growth. If you aren’t already in love with her work you soon will be!)
Brown gave voice to the idea that to be vulnerable requires incredible courage, a counterintuitive notion because we have learned to equate the former with weakness and the latter with strength.
The payoff for being vulnerable, however, is nothing less than the eradication of shame. When we share our shame anecdotes with others who connect and utter those magical healing words “me, too,” shame evaporates.
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection,” says Dr. Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfection”. Blogging is about connecting, connecting is about healing, and healing comes from digging deep and sharing our truth. Dr. Brown suggests that if we don’t feel a wee pang, then perhaps we have not been open enough.
I know this and yet I had the hardest time dragging myself back to the keyboard for another post. I’ve already showed you all my stretchmarks and warts – what’s left? Um, plenty. I have a lot more to share and I need to bounce back from the emotional sofa where I’ve waited out my vulnerability hangover.
It occurs to me as I write this that each person who commented and emailed to say “me too!” had the same feeling. It took courage to share your truth and I want you to know that I am grateful for your willingness to be vulnerable.
Here is to everyone out there who writes, comments, email, speaks, listens, and reaches out. We are all heroic in our small ways.