Almost every email, comment, private message, etc. I got about these posts was some form of this (paraphrased): "Wow, thank you for writing about this, I have totally been struggling with this so much and it's a relief to know I am not alone and/or get some info or insight about it."
The reason this surprised me is that even now, after having this sort of experience with previous posts, I still often feel like I really am pretty alone in dealing with these things. I feel like I'm really going out on a limb by writing about them publicly. But again and again, I get these responses from people... which begs the question: Why aren't we talking about this stuff? No, this isn't a rhetorical question, I really want to know why everyone's not talking about this, out in the open!
If this many people have responded to me personally (only a fraction have posted anything publicly), how many more are these topics hitting home with that I don't even know about? And why, oh why are we keeping our suffering a secret, keeping it quietly tucked away where continues to eat a hole in our emotional and/or physical well-being?
I have two theories on this.
The more obvious theory: Vulnerability
You've read Daring Greatly by now right? (If not, put your name on the waitlist at the library or get thee to your closest second hand bookstore, there will surely be a copy waiting for you!) At this point, I chalk a lot of behaviours up to the fear of being vulnerable, letting people see who you really are, what you're really going through, etc. because of the fear that it will end up being a weakness that people will take advantage of. (Vulnerability isn't a sign of weakness though, it's a sign of strength!) Everyone's been hurt before, and lots of us are scared to trust again. That's normal. But I don't think that it's this simple.
The less obvious theory: Judgment
There's this weird thing going on, I'm certain that I'm not the only one who's noticed it. All the self-help, positivity, spirituality, woo-woo, fix your life stuff all over the internet... it doesn't allow you talk about the bad things. People suddenly label you negative, tell you you're holding yourself back, judge you as not spiritually mature enough... And at a time when you're taking a leap and opening up, that fucking hurts.
None of us want to put ourselves out there only to be pushed back into place, told that it's only okay to talk about "genuine" feelings if they are positive ones. It's bullshit. Your feelings are your feelings, they make you a whole person, and denying the ones that aren't so easy to feel or to hear doesn't help you at all. It keeps you stuck.
What do we do about it?
I know what I'm going to do: keep being honest and vocal. That's the thing that's always come naturally to me. I still feel hurt when people judge me for what I've said, sure, but that's not going to stop me. No matter how many times I've felt belittled, minimized, or censored, I know deep down that I shouldn't be ashamed about my experiences.
Sharing what I go through gives me strength. When you tell me "me too", that gives me comfort. When you tell me my words have helped you, and that you want to try too, that gives us community. And together we can find our way through this.
Do you have any theories about why it's so taboo to talk about things like health or friendship? Any ideas of what would help such personal topics become easier and more common to talk about? I'd love to hear your take.
Thanks for reading, here is a pretty flower for you! xo