You don’t have to be small so someone else can be big..
So following on from yesterdays post about the loss of my father just two weeks ago… and the onslaught of absolute grief that has bought to my life I received A LOT of messages from women who had either just lost a parent.. or who are dealing with the knowledge that one of their parents is dying.. One lovely lady in fact even posted that one of her parents was dying under my post, then removed it before I could comment. I did message her to see if what I had briefly seen was true.. She said yes, but felt it was inappropriate for the thread… THIS MAKES ME SAD! The whole point of my writing about my current vulnerabilities is so that firstly, given all the messages I have received I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE… and secondly.. this wonderful woman could have received similar support of which I have been lucky enough to receive. I wont name her here… Maybe the ladies who have written to me may be brave enough to post again under this thread..
I hear so much from working with women how being vulnerable or in pain makes them feel uncomfortable.. How difficult they find it to ask for what they want and need. How they feel they need to show up and ‘bring it’, be SMILEY, not tell the truth about the struggles they may be facing.. I see this over and over again.. The mask people put on to get through the day. Not knowing how to manage these feelings they have.
But I am here to tell you it is OK to be vulnerable.. It is normal to have feelings of social anxiety / grief / loss / fear/ shame/ vulnerability..
So I will start by being authentic and honest with you all, in the hope that you may get some faith that you are not alone, you can share your story, and it is normal to have these feelings, and you can still be LOVED AND VALIDATED!
Since my Dad’s accident 23 years ago I have been a complete freak within social situations.. Hiding in the corner at events, not wanting to be seen or heard. I spent all my energy in trying to be invisible. This caused me problems in my old job especially if I had to teach the Dr’s and Nurses as I was a blithering, mumbling wreck. Fast forward to now, and whilst I would never have thought I would be making my living out of teaching many women exercise I do know I am good at it, and it is rather like acting for me. However if you ask me to speak at an event, or go to a party I really struggle. I never realised how my energy impacted on other people until I spoke with a woman (who has now become my friend) at a fitness summit I went to last year… She told me that she had met me at a previous event but at that time she had found me to be “offish” “quiet” “passive aggressive” …
This REALLY took me by surprise… My shyness had had a negative impact on her.. I had NO idea that by me trying to focus all my energy into being invisible, that people would still see me, they would just perceive me as being rude and unapproachable. They began to protect themselves against ME!
Trying to pretend to be invisible is exhausting.. and not just for me (us) for those around us. At my Dad’s funeral I was pretending to be fine, to be happy to talk to all these people as if it it was a normal day. For the 5 weeks preceding his death it was exhausting just “being”.. even though everyone around me was so KIND.. I still felt in some way I had to keep being ME… the me that they think I am. The “me” I created to protect everyone from seeing the real me, the one I try to keep invisible. The Charlie compared to the Charlotte.. Two personalities I created to protect myself but mainly to hide my real vulnerable self from the world.
I am no longer going to do that… Yes most days I try to stay positive and fight to keep smiling, and I do hope that this does come across. In social situations I am fearful. Afraid that if people see the real me, the real grief, they will be put off… That feeling comes from a deep rooted unworthiness that I no longer want to carry. The guilt of being the sibling to survive.. The guilt of people thinking I am a fraud in my job, the thoughts that I create that I am not good enough.
These thoughts are NOT REAL! They are created within our own minds and we have a tendency to believe ourselves even though we wouldn’t hear it from a trusted friend about themselves. You must question those thoughts as they arrive into your head.. As Byron Katie says… Ask yourself.. “Is this true? Do you know this thought to be absolutely true?”
I promise that from now on I will try to keep being authentic.. That I will keep writing about this stuff as clearly and selfishly it helps me but I truly hope that it will help even just one person.. One person to open up and allow themselves to be vulnerable and not “ok”.. especially in this world of social media where now everyone is AMAZING… eats HEALTHILY… EXERCISES… HAS GREAT RELATIONSHIPS.. RUNS FOR MILES.. GOT A PB… SAUSAGE LEGS IN THE SUN…
This is not me.. This is not the true story of my life. This is not the story I wish to represent anymore as this is not my truth.. YES I love my job and I am good at my job, but the hours are long and hard sometimes. I do meet and work with amazing women, and the proof of that was all the food and wine and flower fairies who came to my house whilst all the shit was going on.. I will forever be truly grateful for that. But grief sucks.. I can only take one day at a time. I DID run today.. it took every ounce of strength I had to get out the door.. and those cheers that came my way via Facebook made ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
Thats why we’re here right? To share our gifts of friendships, connectivity and authenticity to everyone… I will work on my social “face” in the hope that I can bring joy rather than negativity. To make myself visible outside of work. To keep being honest in my life so that you can be too.. You’re impact on the world is just as important as everyone else’s. We are Stronger Together. You do not have to be small so that someone else can be big..