People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Now We’re Back To the Beginning

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.  —Buddha

I began with the hypothesis that exposing truth is more important than building an image.

More than that: exposing truth (my truth, which is not to be confused with something as trite and easily manipulated as fact) is the only way to breathe life and hope into me; into the dark places created by a lifetime of shame, regret, anxiety, and depression.

I started with a belief that truth is a larger virtue than privacy; that secrets are more dangerous than vulnerability.

I open the festering cesspool that is the inside of (some parts of) me and show it to the world because that is what has helped more than all of the everything else—the therapies and pills and quiet, private, secret cures.

The pressure I put on myself says make yourself acceptable, dammit. Be good quiet OK put-together happy pretty thin tidy acceptable normal. Take your problems somewhere secret, somewhere nobody ever has to witness the unadulterated ugliness. Do not wail and gnash and grieve out in the open where all is exposed! Go to the back room the inner office the restroom the confessional the dark and secret places.

I began with a commitment to the truth, to obliterate that internal pressure to hide.

Sometimes, I get scared. Often, I feel ashamed.

Occasionally, the fear and shame conspire to make me feel lost in my words, unable to make sense of my internal reality.

Frequently, I am unaware that I am the only person who expects me to be perfect.

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35 comments to Now We’re Back To the Beginning

  • Im listening, and I hear you. I hear the pressure you feel externally, and the pressure you feel internally, to show perfection.. because that’s what you’ve come to expect yourself to give out. And I hear that internally you are starting to question that. And fighting through the shame and taking that risk is hard.

    Brene’s quotes that I know you’ve read:

    “Shame often prevents us from presenting our real selves to the people around us — it sabotages our efforts to be authentic.

    How can we be genuine when we are desperately trying to manage and control how others perceive us?

    How can we be honest with people about our beliefs and, at the same time, tell them what we think they want to hear?

    How do we stand up for what we believe in when we are trying to make everyone around us feel comfortable so they won’t get angry and put us down?”

    I hope you will continue to be brave here, and share your truth. It does take bravery. And the degree of transparency we are comfortable with online and in real life can be really hard to find. Im so glad you wrote today. We should talk more.

    • Nope, we can’t do it. We can’t manage image and be true to ourselves at the same time. In casual relationships we can, of course. I have four kids, I’m a stay-at-home mom, yada yada yada. Surface stuff. But in any relationship that goes deeper, we have to make a choice.

  • That is one fabulous piece of writing. I feel the same way every day. What is it about us that makes us pressure ourselves into such a state when the truth is we are all wonderful in our own right? Thank you so much for putting to words what most of us agonize over privately. You are amazing.

  • I come here b/c it’s always the truth.

    I love you for that.

  • I am so with you. A family is only as sick as it’s darkest secrets so, in my family, we have none. Of which I am aware. But I cultivate that by modeling it, because it is exactly what saved me from the first 22 years of my life. And here I am, 44. And I will not keep quiet and I will tell the truth, even if it makes me look bad. Because from there, there is nowhere to go but up.

    Thanks for writing this. I wish you light in the darkest of corners as cesspool slime does not survive in fresh air.

    • Yes, I believe that, too. Of course, it IS possible to be too vulnerable in a public forum like this one, but it’s even easier to be too cautious and not share the things that really matter.

      And yes yes yes. Dirty, ugly things grow in the dark and the damp. Pretty, colorful things grow in the light and the air.

  • Jen

    You so eloquently put into words what I think Ailish puts herself through every day. She puts so much pressure on herself to be the picture of perfection to the outside world that she can barely hold it together until she is safely behind closed doors. I feel so much for you, and for her. Your piece here really speaks to me and our struggles. But I always think of perfection as a mirage – it’s out there, shimmering, making us yearn for it, yet we travel so far to get there, only to find it doesn’t really exist. Hugs to you. Thank you for your courage in writing this.

    • You’re right; it’s like the end of the rainbow. It seems so real, like it’s going to be an actual place we can go, but of course we can’t.

      Some of us seem to have an awfully hard time accepting that.

  • I can relate to the urge to hide the truth (to protect others? myself?) as well as to the idea that I am the only one who asks that I be perfect. No one else really cares, but it’s hard for me to get on board. I love the quote from Buddha, btw.

  • I think the transition from being our own worst critic to our own best friend is a difficult one, but you are well along it. The more we reach for the light, the harder the dark part of us would like us to try to stay hidden, and you know the truth: shining light on the darkness takes away its power. Every word that you give to your truth exposes the darkness and frees you from it.

    You are more beautiful than you know.

  • Hmm. I really get this one.

    I was raised with the idea that who we really were didn’t matter…it was what the “important” people perceived us to be that mattered. Dirty secrets were to be hidden and masked. There were many expectations of “should.”

    I am an inherent defender of what is, however, and the putting on of faces never sat well with me. Nonetheless, it is a difficult demon to eradicate.

    And the need for perfection? Well, that’s another one.

    • Exactly! What I KNOW and what I BELIEVE are sometimes very different. I KNOW that being open and honest and true to myself is better than not doing that. I know it, but I don’t exactly believe it yet.

      Someday, though.

  • Adrienne

    As usual I find myself nodding along as I read your words.

    You have the ability to express things I cannot.

    For this? I appreciate and value your posts.

    Glad, so glad you wrote it.

    that is all

  • CDG

    Please, wail and gnash and grieve out in the open where we can, at the very least, tell you we hear you, we’re listening, we care.

  • Adrienne: I have read with wonder many of your writings. Your truthfulness is thrilling and liberating. I have not encountered any reasons for shame.
    Sometimes your words are so powerful that I cry or wince or withdraw, but I have not felt ever that I was witnessing a debased or dark soul. If so, I would not be able to imbibe your thoughts.
    Your writing is a courageous act of faith in oneself and the future, and I love you for that. Please know that you are deeply admired and I am thankful for your insights.

  • Bakingmomma

    We are always harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be. Thank you for sharing again.

  • I just talked to my therapist about this very topic (for the millionth time) today.

    I hate the pressure I put on myself.

    And sometimes…even more than that…I hate that people try to take that pressure off me.

    Does that make sense?

    And you? are always truth to me.

    Love you.

    • Oh, yes, I know that about you, that we have this in common.

      And I hate when people try to take the pressure off me, too. It’s like they’re saying it doesn’t matter. Which of course it doesn’t matter, but I don’t want to hear that. It FEELS very important and I hate to have people tell me that I’m wrong!

      Love you too, my dear. Thank you for being here and hearing me.

  • Beautifully written.
    I’m speechless.

  • I love when Geenen Roth talks about, “Only kindness makes sense.” This is in reference to being kind to yourself.

  • i’m just now reading this *sorry*. i know all those feelings so well, and i just want to say your truth is beautiful. your commitment to the truth is beautiful. you’re beautiful!!!

  • I hear you, especially on this “Frequently, I am unaware that I am the only person who expects me to be perfect.”

  • Angelia Brown

    Exactly! Just here to say: I love you. i’m just now reading this *sorry*.

  • Vanessa Kinney

    I would never dream of treating anyone else as harshly as I treat myself. The pressure is so painful, and it never works, so I don’t understand why so many of us keep up with it year after year after year!

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