In case you did not get the memo, I have been away for “a minute,” as the folks in Utah say quite frequently. I “dipped out” of Pennsylvania on December 28th to head to Annie’s House in Draper, UT. It is one of the locations for Steps Recovery Center, owned by a very kind man named Ty (and co-owner Paul) with a rad Marketing Director, Kevin (I am sure I will talk about Ty and Kevin in a later post – those guys came in once or twice a week – and patiently smiled every time I said, “free weights?”). If you go to their website, you will see that it is advertised as a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. It is that too. It actually helps almost anyone with almost all symptoms/self-destructive habits by treating mental health and trauma.
I mention the above to give a reason why my 2021 intention is coming a few months after January 1st but also why I have already been quite successful at working on it.
So, to get this out of the way, “engage” is my intention of the year. It means involve, participate, draw into, interlock, active commitment, show up, and/or connect. This year I aim to be as close to 100% committed to showing up, involving myself, and connecting. I have thoughts and feelings (who knew?) that need to be shared vulnerably with others. I have fears, failures, and hurts that I cannot avoid or dissociate away from. I have boundaries that I do not share and that keep me from authentic connection with others.
I often think I am afraid of connection, but I am actually fearful of disconnection. Brene Brown, in her Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, discusses what is needed to connect (engage) with people. Step one? Believe I am worthy of love and belonging. Believe I am enough. What is the major hindrance to believing I am worthy of love and belonging? Shame. My brain passes shame out to me as though it is candy…candy to a diabetic.
Guess what? If I believe I am unworthy of love and belonging, I don’t need to fear that painful feeling of rejection. Wow, that is totally safe! Except that the very thing I am trying to avoid is the very thing I have created for myself. I can let myself be known and possibly rejected, or I can keep myself hidden and feel that painful feeling of believing others would not like me if they actually knew me (believing I am already rejected). What a trap that is!
So, when I started writing my intention for 2021, I set up three specific ways to engage:
- I am not going to use humor to escape discomfort when something is truly important to me.
- I am going to speak up about those difficult things honestly, especially those things that invoke an immediate “I don’t know.”
- I am going to choose to feel difficult feelings, emotions I do not want to feel. I am not just going to feel them; I am going to express them outwardly.
I started those specific “interventions” when I first arrived at Annie’s House, before I actually understood just how powerful the grip shame has on me is…like a Saltwater Crocodile. That freaky animal has a quick bite, almost 4000 psi, and holds on until its prey is dead or eaten whole. I have since thought quite a bit more about how I can engage/connect/show up, and it is so much more that avoiding humor, talking about difficult things, and feeling emotions. Those are cop-out answers. Cop-out answers were never allowed at Annie’s House, and they shouldn’t be allowed in life. Several weeks into my stay Annie’s House, I could not come up with an answer for why I believed I was worthy of love and was required to go to each person in the group, look them in the eye, and wait for them to give a reason. Not only are cop-out answers not allowed, but hearing truth was necessary for healing. After walking around in that circle, eyes locked with each person as they spoke contrary to the shame crocodile, I sat back down in my seat and was asked again why I believed I was worthy of love. My answer? I am worthy of love because I am me. Guess who I am?! Buckle up.
So, I am humor, strength, power, leadership, intellect, emotion, wifehood, motherhood, sisterhood, daughterhood, and so much more.
I am going to use humor to escape discomfort. I am going to be weak. I am going to be a follower. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to lie. I am going to use avoidance and dissociation. I am going to be emotional. I am going to hurt people. You can reject me. You can shame me. You can be offended. You can walk away. No matter what, I will engage/connect/show up the best I can at that moment. I will do the best I can in the moment to use my voice and speak about difficult things honestly, and sometimes with humor. If I don’t, it’s okay. It may be shame speaking, but it may also be a boundary. I will do the best I can in the moment to not just feel emotions but express them outwardly. If I don’t, it’s okay. It may be shame speaking, but it may also be a boundary.
I cannot control the things I encounter, but I can and will engage with others, myself, and life the best I can in the moment. I can also assume that the people around me are doing the best they can as well. That drives engagement, connection, belonging, and worth.
What in the Sam Hill does it mean to “engage?”
- Believing I am worthy of love and belonging.
- Believing I am doing my best.
- Believing others are also doing the best they can.
The hidden parts of me are probably where my shame crocodile is holding me hostage. What part of me do you want to see more of? What part of me has been missing from your life?
In the meantime, listen to this song: Satsang – I Am