30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 7: #authenticity #projection #honesty #relationships


D’oh. Good lord, today’s quote … it may as well just be a smack in the face, a push off the edge and how Divinely Timed for me, who is (and I kid you not) literally struggling with ‘being seen.’

Gah. Here:

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.(page 49)”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Deep breath.

Ok. 1,200 words. I could just do one: “No.”

That’s chickening out.

I have been to psychics, I have been with mediums, I have friends who see things and with others who are clairaudient, I have friends who are Reiki masters, I have friends who are non-predictive palmists, others who read tarot cards. I also have friends who are Christian and who think that all the aforementioned people are nuts and charlatans, but of the aforementioned friends, not one of them thinks the Christians are uncool. We all see the irony don’t we?

All of these sensitive friends, all of them, have told me in no uncertain terms: WRITE THE BOOK. If for no other reason, than to simply get it out of my system. I am leaking this story, my story. I have been explicitly asked to not publish or publicize my story because it would hurt the requestor.

In my at-times black-and-white mind (funny, I can be beige or gray with others but not always with myself) I get caught up (it’s a distraction tactic) in the logistics: Where do I start? How would I publish it? How would I market it? What about the cover art? What genre?


Really. Yeah. I know.

Do you do this to yourself? Do you have a Big Thing you want to do and then sort of sabotage it by thinking about stuff that’s sooooo far into the future that it becomes overwhelming and you give up before you even start?

Me neither. It’s so nice being perfect.

Anyway, this story is leaking out of me. In dribs and drabs. In tendonitis and in sciatica. In back twinges and in ankle pricks. I suspect it’s leaking out of me because it doesn’t belong there in the first place. While it’s “mine” because it has happened to me, it’s not mine to own or take care of or… hide / protect.

Ripping off a band-aid, right here:

Being the (adult) child of alcoholics does shit to you.

When you are young, and things happen right in front of your face, you’re told it’s something else. When you hear something happen, an exchange, say, of valium being called ‘candy’ and then you find one on the floor, that little yellow pill with the “V” stamped out of it and you pick it up and try to put it in your mouth but your mother slaps it out of your hand because it’s dangerous, but you think it’s ‘candy’ um… yeah.

It’s times like that when 2+2=46,896,sock,424,spatula,090,843,banana,324.0111 repeating.

Your surfaces are spongy. Nothing feels firm. Predictability? Only thing that’s predictable is the unpredictability. Rage? Predictable.

Back to Brown. This resonates with me so soundly because I do a lot of this: I show up, I am vulnerable, but even here, I do tend to be careful because I don’t want … basically, I fear and feel for my father. I fear his anger, his rage and his penchant for withholding and I feel for his attachment to my mother. But when that is the outcome, that someone can be so angry with you for being honest and for not holding the toxic and steaming bag of shit anymore, which is clearly theirs, is it better to keep holding it (in)? Even at 46? Is it better to suffer, more, because they can’t be vulnerable, because you feel pity for their sadness or avoidance? It’s a behavior classically aligned with Stockholm Syndrome.

mine. no, not mine. theirs. my art. their shit. check.

mine. no, not mine. theirs. my art. their shit. check.

My gut tells me to give back the bag of steaming shit. My friends say to give back the bag of steaming shit, or at least don’t hold it anymore. Drop it off, so to speak, where it belongs. All the books (oy! ALL THE BOOKS!) I’ve read say to give it back, don’t just let it go, but give it back.

And I’ve done that, from time to time. As a Troubadour of Truth, I’ve sung said, “This shit is not mine! You take it!” but inevitably, it gets stepped on and then eventually tracked back into my life. These days I just do my best to not let it soil others or project it on to others, innocents. It’s hard and I don’t really have a handbook, so I’m winging it.

As children of those worlds, we work hard to keep the illusion alive, that all is well, because to allow for the truth would absolutely be too much, it wouldn’t add up because to a child there are no “bad ideas” until they are stated as such. Children have a fantastic capacity for … a fantastic capacity. Their ability to believe and honor an unstated code in order to win or curry favor for safety and survival is unmatched by any other being on this planet, in my opinion.

I have considered emotional divorce. It works sometimes. I have had the long talks, the patient couching of content to paint an alternative picture the truth. It’s exhausting and tiresome. There’s pride too, a part of me that doesn’t want to come from a sad story, that wants to (as I said) keep the illusion alive because it looks nicer and prettier from the outside. No one wants to see the bag of shit. But it’s there, stinking up my self-image at times, stinking up the reality. You can’t ignore a bag of shit.

So it’s this authenticity Brown is speaking of, in my parlance: to see the bag of shit. In her more eloquent parlance, to show others ourselves in order to be seen and then (as far as I’m concerned) a help or advocate for those who might not be ready to be seen. To tear off the band-aid, to show others that not only can it be done, but also that it is eminently survivable. But in my limited framework and penchant for rueful revenge, how do I show up? How do I be my ‘person’ and tell my truth without blaming others and without going Stockholm? How is this done?

Bluntly: if you have a truth to tell, an authenticity to show, if you can’t become brave, then you remain a coward. That stinks and so does the shit. 

I have cut out a lot of cowards. Life is too short to hold a steamy bag of someone else’s shit.

For reals.

Thank you.


8 responses »

  1. It’s time to let go of the shit……..I know it can be difficult, but it is time to let go……..we all have it, it just presents itself in different forms……also, some of us have bigger bags of it than others, but it still exists, and even though it is stinky some of us have trouble letting go of it…… you can not cover it or bag it up and hold onto it, because it will always be stinky……toss it back and try to move on……

    • Hmm, it just occurred to me: what if “letting go of the shit” is my authenticity? What if by letting go of the shit I allow my armor to drop which creates vulnerability too…? Maybe hanging on to the shit means I get to stay mad / victim Or whatever it is? If so, then what purpose does a book serve? The best question: how can writing a book, if it ever published, help others without being caustic? Have I crossed a line with this post? All I can tell you is that after I clicked “publish” my hamstring ached and my back hurt; fear is what’s pulsing through me. It’s pretty awful…. To ‘live’ like this. This is when I feel most lost. 😦

  2. Molly you only get one life to live….I am not telling you anything you have not heard before……but it has been too long already….right the book…..
    drop your armor and be vulnerable, you are a survivor! I truly believe that once you do this you will be free and possibly, just possibly your world will be better for it……you may bruise some of those closest to you and they may see it as being selfish, but I think it is your story to tell…….I think those who truly love you will eventually understand why you needed to put it out there in the universe…….If not, than it is their shit to deal with……they can choose to hold on to it or toss it!


  3. Write the book,Molly. Put the completed book in a file and forget it for a few months. Read the book and think about it for a week. Open the file, do some editing and put it away for a while. The process of writing clears our souls and minds; publishing that writing causes angst, dread and fear, especially if one of the characters in the book will attack with a vengeance upon publication. Write the book and then decide if you will publish it. There is time to think.

    I think there should be a club for only Daughters of anxiety ridden, highly intelligent, self absorbed, personality disordered Mothers who drink far too much and the people who enable them to stay on their miserable course of destruction of all who love them.

    • Leslhugs,

      I like this advice. You are right. I needn’t fear what I don’t release. I’ve been so conditioned that the work must manifest in some tangible way… what if the tangible way is just the absence of fear? That’s pretty tangible to me! 🙂

      Thank you. If you find a chapter for that club, do let me know. I’ll become a member.

      • Having no fear or anxiety would make a wonderful life, wouldn’t it? No stress, no worries, no conflicts – just solid conversations that make progress in a relationship. Fear is mighty; it is what flings most of us into the abyss of troubled relationships and self recrimination.

        Writing about the wicked itch in my mind makes it go away – or at least pushes it back into a closed compartment in my mind. Being in a similar situation to yours I understand the frustration and hesitation to publish. My Mother used to tell me: “Just think of all of the wonderful writing topics I’ve given you!” she usually said this the day after a perfectly horrid display of narcissism fueled by large amounts of liquor. I knew better than to write anything about her to publish when she was alive and I still worry about publishing any of it now because it does feel a bit like breaking the family rule of never, ever speaking about family matters outside of our home – not that I could ever discuss family matters at home.

        Maybe I should take up kick boxing rather than writing…

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