I believe in action behind words. I HATE lofty, fluffy ideas. When people say things like “Just rest” or “Seize the day” (and they are my friend), I ask them What the hell does that MEAN though? Because for me, words and theology without movement is dead. I want to know what I can do to make those words come alive.
I sometimes have bouts with anxiety. Occasionally that means full-on meltdowns with scary, immobilizing thoughts and the world spinning without me. It means leaving the beach because I can’t stop crying and shaking. Other times it’s just little whispers in the back of my mind.
What I have learned about living fearlessly, is that it has nothing to do with how I feel. Anxiety tells me to STOP, to give up and to hide. And sometimes I do. But for me, the best way to tell anxiety to eff-off is by putting one foot in front of the other and to keep.on.moving. Living bravely is about choices.
I feel the same way about connection.
I am convinced that TRUE friendship and connection are THE most important things we can acquire on this planet. I also believe that the only way to find the real-deal is by CHOOSING to show up. Not just partly, but all the way. Choosing (not feeling) worthiness looks like pursuing friendships and being real.
I’ve always valued honesty, but several years ago I started getting more intentional with my truth-telling. I started sharing with old and new friends what I was really going through to see what they’d do. When they asked “How was your day?” instead of a generic “Good,” I’d say things like, “Bad. I had the worst attitude about everything. I was so grumpy, and then I felt terrible that I was grumpy, so I became grumpier.” Or, “I was a complete stress case today about nothing. I was stressed about cheerios on the carpet and wearing pants.”
I talked about the things that were actually bothering me, instead of burying them.
I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it turned out to be a win-win. I guess they had crap to share too. They seemed glad that I was a safe-crap-place. We laughed at our idiocy together and felt each other’s pain. When I see Mount Kilimanjaro of laundry on my friend’s couch, I only feel very glad that we are couch-twinsies. Emotional laundry is the exact same thing.
One of my friends shared with me about her struggle with anxiety. She told me of throwing up she was so scared, and how she felt frozen with despair. I didn’t struggle with it as much then, but her bravery and openness brought us closer.
Five years after that I had one of the darkest times of anxiety I’d ever had. Every day I’d wake up with what felt like 100 pounds on my chest. I couldn’t connect to real life and the shaking would start early in the morning. Every week day for a month this friend showed up on my doorstep. She sat with me and said, “OK, lay it on me, what are you afraid of today?” I spilled out all my crazy embarrassing thoughts that I knew sounded nuts. I wondered aloud if I needed to go the ER or maybe to the mental hospital instead.
She’d look at me in the eyes and say, “You are not dying. ALL this is anxiety. That is it. It will not stay.” I would cry until the tension in my chest would start to lift.
Not only is openness healing for you, but it creates a safe place for others to be open too.
Friends, we need each other. Live bravely today. Live shamelessly. There are people that will take your invitation. Not only will you find belonging, but most likely you’ll give the gift of it to someone else.
I heard recently that neither the darkness nor the light in the world give a crap about your past. One strives to steal your future, the other calls you to it. The best way you can lose the grip of shame is by sharing your stories and having someone receive you with open arms. Real friendship and belonging are birthed out of relaxing in our own skins and knowing we are safe and loved.
My friend, YOU ARE WORTHY and YOU ARE BRAVE. The world needs you just as you are.