Taking Down My Fence (Believing Mirror Part 2)

Cat Fink--'Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones)'
Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones) — Cat Fink

I’ve been reading about vulnerability in Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly.  Her words have me feeling and remembering.

Growing up, no one told me that strength included vulnerability.  If they did, I didn’t hear them.  Maybe the people around me did not know this either.

Growing up, I was taught that being strong meant holding back my feelings from public view.  Show a calm, controlled front.  Always pretend everything is okay.  I became so good at this, even I didn’t know what I was feeling sometimes.

I kept pushing my feelings away.  I thought I was getting rid of them.  Truth is I was storing them behind a fence of ‘okay’.

This is not the way to live.  I knew it, but did not know how to be different.

Things changed when I was twenty-one.  I began the relationship with my future husband.  He saw my heart behind the fence, and he loved it, and he wouldn’t let go.

Something in me knew it was time to build a gate.  A skinny gate at first, but enough to let me say out loud for the first time in my life, to someone, I love you.

I was terrified saying it.  This was laying myself open, a direct path to hurt me and reject what I offered.  Despite all of the loving actions and words Lyle had given me, I did not trust I was truly worthy of love.  I didn’t much love myself, so how could someone else love me?

I could not say ‘I love you’ to Lyle as a statement.  I said it like a question needing the right answer.

He said it.  He said I love you.  He answered.  To me.

Love made the gate in my fence.  Love and the courage to love.  I don’t know where the courage came from, and the ability to hear the voice that whispered inside me, ‘do this’.

I knew this was a choice, to stay with fear or to step forward to love.  I knew Lyle saw me differently than I saw myself.  He saw a world that did not require fear, and he saw me in this world braver than I saw myself.  Maybe this is how my courage appeared.  His vision sparked my belief, and my belief sparked courage to arise, be seen, and claim out loud my ability to love.

Lyle showed up for me when I needed someone to help open a way through the fence I had built around myself.

Lyle told me how he felt and what he saw in me.  But louder than the words were his actions.  He treated me as a person of great value, who had gifts to be seen and shared.

He believed in me.

This is what we do for each other.  We see the best in the person standing before us, even and especially when they can’t see it themselves.  We believe in them.  We say ‘let’s do this together’.

We all have the gift and possibility of being a Believing Mirror for the person standing before us.  We just have to choose to see that in ourselves, and be vulnerable enough to offer it to someone else.

‘I believe in you.’  Words as precious and important and life-changing as ‘I love you’.

Lyle and I have been together thirty-seven years.  We have a son to be proud of.  My fence?  It shows up sometimes as a ghost of itself.  Old habits, old patterns of thinking and reacting, reminding me where I was, and showing me where I am now.  I pat it kindly, and thank it for keeping me safe at a time when I thought I needed protection.  Then I walk around it.

Lyle, I love you.  Happy Father’s Day.

_______________________

In this post:

Brene Brown, book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Avery, 2012.  http://brenebrown.com/

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

‘Believing Mirror’, page 47 in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron, TarcherPerigree, 2016.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

 

Given grace

Crowgirl Words
Crowgirl Words

I have a new word in my heart’s vocabulary.  Grace.

New to me, yet this is an old word.  I’ve heard people talk about the ‘grace of God’.  There, but for the grace of God, go I.  The song Amazing Grace tells of being taught by grace, and saved by grace.

In this world, I see grace being beauty, being tenderness and mercy, being forgiveness and reprieve and absolution.  Grace as a gift, given unexpectedly and lovingly, that relieves, rescues, saves.

I think grace is connection, a gift in the same way love is a gift.  Always here with me.  Always available and speaking to me.  Always holding me in its embrace.  I need only open my heart, and become grounded and present.

Grace is another word for love, another word for Source, for God.

I see the grace given in my life.  Love.  Connection.  Forgiveness.  Beauty.  Gratitude.

Grace is what writes with me, these words on this page.  Whispers in my ear, write this, then this, and this.  Grace opens my heart to my life, all of it.  Opens my senses to what is around me in this moment.  Says to me, use everything.  All is inspiration, when I am open to grace and vulnerable to life.

Open.

Letting myself become vulnerable.

The dictionary defines vulnerable as being available to injury.  In other words, I am being advised to stay closed off.  Closed is safe.  Vulnerable is being in danger.

Surely vulnerable can simply mean open.

When I am vulnerable to all in my life, I learn and understand.  I feel and do what could be difficult and painful, but I hold it and myself in love.  And then grace holds me, and I find my way through.  Nothing to force or fight, nothing to push against in anger or fear, nothing to close away from.

I think the dictionary writers got it wrong.  Vulnerable is not being available to injury.  Vulnerable is being available to grace and love. It is standing deep in my life, open-hearted and accepting all I experience.

Available to my life.  Using everything.  An open heart.  This is grace.  Given, and accepted.

___________________

Mentioned in this post:

Amazing Grace, song by John Newton (1725 – 1807)