Monday, February 7, 2011

on unapologetic authenticity and why i give a damn.

"Life will devastate you if you get close enough to it. Get closer. In the cosmic fabric, your pain is mine is yours is mine... When we can share this unified space we know how to be of better service to one another - because we can better empathize.” - Danielle LaPorte

since september, i've been interning at an incredible organization that offers trauma-focused therapy to survivors of violent crime. the fiercely amazing superwomen i work alongside told me when i started that eventually this work would affect me via vicarious trauma. people who are exposed to others' traumatic experiences often begin experiencing post-traumatic symptoms of their own. i'm not doing a lot of work directly with clients, so i thought i'd be fine. during the past week or so, i was proven wrong. i've had trouble sleeping, i've felt like nothing in the world is okay and there's nothing i or anyone can do about it. there have been days when i've had zero motivation for doing anything at all. if you're one of the friends who caught me at a particularly bad time during which i basically told you "i'm in a pissy mood and don't wanna talk about it, and don't try to cheer me up, either"... thank you for loving me anyway. but - i won't say i'm sorry. because something that has been proven to me more and more in recent weeks is the value of authenticity. we are, as a society, i think, afraid of being unapologetically authentic. we are afraid of living with intention and truth. we try to be impenetrable. it makes sense - who wants to get up close and personal with how we, and others, really feel and want? human emotion and desire, left unchecked, are unwieldy and intense and just kind of scary. keeping your guard up is safer. in this effort to stay safe and walled up, it's become uncool to give a damn. the admission that you care about something - or someone - is an admission of weakness. it's an admission that your wall has been penetrated and, sound the alarm, you give a damn! letting things matter is dangerous. why would we do it?

now, stay with me, and trust that i'm being a little scattered with my pronouns here but when i'm saying "you" or "we" or "people" or "society" i absolutely include "i". i have walls up. i don't go around scattering my emotions all willy-nilly. expressing my authentic feelings makes me feel vulnerable and, quite frankly, scared shitless. but, as i'm learning, it is worth it. we have this incredible, divine, precious opportunity as human beings to embrace the full spectrum of our lived experience and this includes those uncomfortable feelings like fear and outrage and anxiety and those indescribable feelings that happen when you want something but you can't name it. the human experience can be pretty ugly. however, it also includes that feeling when you hear a song that makes your heart stop. it includes the feeling of first kisses, the feeling of dancing until you can't feel your legs, the feeling of hugs from your grandma and scoring a goal and getting a standing ovation and that day when the winter weather finally breaks and you swear life has never felt this good.

if we just keep on denying that we give a damn, this spectrum is no longer available to us. we have the ability to care, to let people in, to let things get us riled up, to feel things we can't name, and it would be an injustice not to embrace that opportunity. so, yeah, sometimes you'll express your authentic truth and people won't be able to take it. but is that reason to apologize, to recant, to build the walls back up? i don't think so. respecting someone enough to trust them with your most whole, authentic self is an honor. think about those timeless songs, movies, stories - are they about being all "hey i think you're kind of okay or whatever but i'm not into taking risks", "i dig the idea of social change but don't really want to cause a ruckus", "we can win this game if ya'll want to but, eh, whatever." hell no. that's not life. good songs, movies, stories, and lives are steeped in unapologetic intensity. "i fell into the burning ring of fire", "i have a dream", "i'm a winner, i'm going to win."

so, i'm doing my best to live with intention and authenticity. and don't expect me to apologize, because i think you deserve better.


Anonymous said...

this post made me like you more.

"it's kind of hard to figure anything out, when people don't talk at all"

just heard that line this moment, felt it applied.


MollyAnne said...

this post is so honest and real, and i am proud of you. i love you.

TJ said...

thank you for being you, for saying this, for sharing. This is something I often find myself thinking on, how much better we could all be if we were just a little more real, up front, and embraced who we were, how we felt. It's hard, and it can hurt at times, but its worth it.