Monday, September 19, 2016

Sharing Our Vulnerabilities or Why My Writing is Too Depressing

I've mentioned this before, but once, many years ago, someone told me they won't read my blog because I'm not uplifting. They said they would rather read things that are positive and inspiring --words that help them become a better person. Why waste time with something depressing?

It doesn't hurt nearly as much as it did when it was said, but I'm still confused because honestly? I can't read blogs and other social media that are only happy. Everyone wants to be inspired (I know I do!), but an over-saturation of good can be misleading. Overly cheerful, constantly positive, and super inspiring sounds perfect, and sometimes I think I should be grateful for words that are chosen to lift instead of put down --but the truth is, they don't sound real. They feel absolutely fake. 

Social media that only portrays the good paints a false picture of the reality of life. In fact --and here's some irony for you --I've read personal blogs and social media accounts (personal ones) that wax and wane about the goodness of Christ, but never, ever, ever share or admit that they even need Christ. So, I don't understand. If their lives are so perfect, why would they need Him? If they've figured it all out, what's the point of preaching about Someone who is there to save us from the bad and ugly when they have no bad or ugly in their lives? 

Don't get me wrong --testifying of Jesus Christ is very important and should be done regularly. And I'm not trying to encourage an onslaught of negativity. But there has to be a balance to things, and that is why, if you read what I write, I always have a good ending. Because I know what Eve said to be true --we pass through the pain of sin so we can know the good from the evil. We can't know the good unless we know the bad! Nobody is immune to the difficulties of life. Nobody. Which is why I'm confused so many good women refuse to admit or share that there is even a tiny element of bad in their lives. What are they afraid of? 

I remember, on several occasions, reading the positive blogs --women with a million kids, homeschooling them, doing a hundred activities, sewing, baking, exercising, working part-time, traveling, reading their scriptures daily, serving faithfully in the gospel, etc etc. etc. (and there are lots out there) --and thinking I must be absolutely horrible and broken. I believed that if I just tried harder, I could be like those women and their perfect husbands, perfect children, perfect homes, perfect bodies, and perfect lives. I still fall into that lie from time to time. I even share that lie from time to time! It took considerable amounts of self-reflection (and even research) before I realized I was falling into one of satan's most notorious and successful traps: shame.

I felt I was a horrible person because I just wasn't good enough. I would never be like those women because I was too broken. My mind was messed up. My body was too out of shape. My parenting methods were screwed up. My marriage was dull. My house was unworthy. My personality was stupid. The best discovery, however, was learning that these women were not even close to perfect. Even the ones that claimed they had found all the answers weren't as great as they pretended to be. They weren't outright lying about their lives, but they were omitting the very thing that could connect them to other women --their vulnerability and imperfections.

Image result for vulnerability connects us brene brown

The person who told me I was too depressing was just one person. Unfortunately, they were not alone (I've been told I write posts that are too long, I'm too sarcastic, I'm selfish, I hurt others, and I just want attention, etc). But I've also received dozens of messages, phone calls, and emails from women thanking me for keeping it real. They appreciate that even though I add goodness to the struggles I'm going through, I don't hide from the struggles and I don't pretend I'm immune to mortality.

I used to think my almost-humiliating honesty was weak, but they've shown me, through support, that I've simply been vulnerable. This whole time (for 10 years!), I have been sharing my vulnerabilities, opening myself up to the pain of shame, not even realizing that I was also opening myself up to courage, empathy, and connection. (Thank you, Brene Brown!)

Just last week I shared this on Instagram and Facebook: 
I make many mistakes. I'm loud, blunt, sensitive, and bold. I can give it but rarely take it. I am vulnerable. I over-share. I allow insensitive comments to dwell in my mind. I assume the best in others, but when I feel betrayed, I shut down trust too quickly. I unleash rage on any who threaten me and mine. My house and children will never be to the standards of others. My marriage is a passionate, beautiful work in progress. I eat too much and purge on electronic media. I am forgetful, talk over others, laugh loudly, and speak without thinking. I yell. I love minor-keyed music and cloudy, rainy days. I attempt the impossible and give up too often. Poetry moves me; music is life-blood. I desire friendship and tend to be the selfish side of it. I suffer inside the chaos of my mind. I'm a glorious mess, made with fire and ice, clumsily attempting to fulfill the measure of my divine creation. I've never claimed to be perfect, but I do try to be my best. I have faith in Christ, belief in redemption, and I'm learning to forgive freely. All the experiences of my past continue to teach me and shape the direction I go. I allow God to urge me, nudge me, and guide me. I am beautifully, powerfully, creatively imperfect. 
With this photo (nope, not a drop of makeup --I rarely wear makeup, anymore, anyway, so it's not that big of a deal. The lighting was weird, but I didn't filter it):

I'm sure there were many who thought it was stupid. In fact, I know it made people uncomfortable. I'm not sure why. But I also know that a lot of people appreciated my honesty; many admitted they felt exactly the same way about themselves.

The truth is, women need each other to be real. We need to uplift and inspire, yes, but we can't do that with sugar-coated caricatures of our lives. If we truly want to connect with each other, we have to be honest about what we deal with, what we experience, and how we make it through. We help each other by admitting we don't have all the answers. We urge each other on when we share how we got back up after we fell down. We give each other hope when we admit how the Atonement of Jesus Christ has healed our pain and forgiven our sins --when we admit that we do, in fact, sin.

I make no apology for the things I write here or on other social media outlets. I do apologize when I've been mean to people (on purpose or inadvertently), and I am truly sorry if I've hurt you and not apologized for it. But I can't stop writing things that are depressing. I have to write my truth, and the truth is that life is a big ol' mess of happy and sad. You cannot have one without the other. Give and take, yin, and yang, black and white, light and dark, big and small --opposition is important.

Image result for opposition in all things scripture lds

You don't need to share every detail to be vulnerable. You don't even have to share half of it, dear reader, but share some it. Share your truth. Share the realities and the vulnerabilities and the pain and the horror. Then tell us how you overcame. Tell us about God and light, hope and love. Don't paint a false picture in an effort to inspire, because, dear reader, it may alienate the very people you're hoping to help. 


Sus said...

AMEN! said...

Yes yes and yes!! Love this and LOVED your Instagram post!!