Monday, July 22, 2013

Wrestling the map

I’ve been wrestling with something. Something that, for me, feels really big. It’s felt super big for at least the last ten months, but really, it has felt pretty-close-to-super-big for... well, if I’m honest, for the whole of my life. 

I’m talking about authenticity. 

Sharing your truth. Sharing your opinions. Sharing your experiences. Sharing your discoveries, your hopes, your dreams, your words, your work, your art, your expression. Sharing your love, your passion, your compassion, your kindness, your soft underbelly, your faith, your marrow, your gifts. 

Sharing whatever it is that feels like the Most Important Stuff of All Time, even if it’s just for that one moment, even if it’s just the Most Important Stuff of All Time to You.

The stuff that you’re secretly, or not-so-secretly, terrified to share. The stuff you’re afraid people will judge you for. Or unfriend you for. Or say mean things to you in public about. Or talk even louder and more cruelly behind your back about. Or whatever the heck it is that happens when the truth about who you are and what you’re thinking, feeling, doing or being in this exact moment in time is set loose for everyone to see. 

I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding parts of myself away. I’ve spent an equal amount of time creating an identity composed of what I viewed as the more desirable parts of myself. Or, if I’m to be precise, the more desirable parts and the ones I hadn’t fully accepted but just couldn’t seem to shake and the ones I just kind of made up in hopes it wouldn’t go so poorly for me on the playground if people didn’t get on well with the other two.

It was a lesson I learned early and often. It was a lesson which, each time I sought to reverse it, the “truth” of it seemed to come back even larger. There was even a peak moment when I felt that the Universe downright hated me: it seemed like every time I tried to share something openly from the good of my heart, I’d be punished. As a natural introvert, an empath, a compassionate being who sought not to cause even a moment of suffering to any other creature on the planet, it was viscerally painful to see my good intentions misunderstood, turned sideways, brought to bear like evidence against me at a trial, or exposed and left to rot like criminals in the town square.

When I was diagnosed with can’t-sir, I thought, surely, one good thing to come out of this must be my final liberation from fear of expressing my own authenticity. After all, the breath I was breathing could very well be my last. Surely with this awareness, I’d have no more need for fear, shame, guilt, jealousy. Hadn’t I always read about exactly that? How an awareness of one’s own mortality helps people sluff off the oogy stuff and get to the core?

I want to take a moment to just breathe. I want to acknowledge that doing our darndest to be authentic is Big, Huge, Life-Changing Stuff. Whether we do it for one fraction of one second, or take every chance we get to put it out there. Breathe with me. Because it’s true for us all. We’re doing our darndest, and it isn’t easy.

What I’ve learned through my life journey, and through my can’t-sir journey in particular, is that with time it can be done with ease. And still, there will be judgey-judges and mean-spirited people and simple misunderstandings and just a lot of general ridiculousness to follow any time we BE who we BE and say or do what we feel is true to us in the moment. There will also be magnificent moments of clarity and compassion and awareness and grace. Moments when we ride so high we just can’t help smiling and dancing and shouting, “YES!” while doing some awkward yet still socially acceptable gesture like a fist-bump or a high-five. So, that’s pretty cool, as far as double-edged swords go.

I share my truth here, and in the other forums I dally in, because while can’t-sir didn’t cure me of all my fears, it did help reaffirm and remind me of something vital: We Are All One. And it’s an awareness I just can’t shake.

Sharing our truth -- and I don’t mean sharing our wounds, I mean our truth, as in the truth of who we really are, and who we’re finding our way to being, not just what we’re suffering through -- sharing our truth is a kind of mapmaking. And with it, all roads lead back to our shared consciousness, our shared humanity, our shared dreamtime.

When I write, when I make work, when I reach out to connect, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me anymore, or to like me or the things I say or create. (Even though I admit that it’s really, really, heart-shatteringly lovely when they do.) 

I write, I make work, I share as much as I possibly can from the inside of my heart because I don’t know how to breathe underwater anymore. Because I don’t want anyone else to feel like they are in that dark, watery place of aloneness, staring up through a mirror at a sun they will never be able to savor and a sky they will never feel empowered to soar. I do these things because it is all I have, and all I am, and because I have this sneaky feeling that instead of being the horrible, punishment-inducing thing I once experienced my Stuff to be, it might just be my contribution to the map.

With all this in mind, I say thank you. To all that has been. To all that will be. To all the murky, nonsensical and even downright shitty experiences, I say thank you. And thank you, no matter how many words I might wrap around it to try to make myself understood, or to make myself feel better, is all I ever really am saying, and all I ever really need to say. In fact, maybe it's all any of us ever really need to say. But that feels like a topic for a whole other blog post. So I think I'll just leave it at that for now. 


  1. Was directed to your blog today from Sage Spirit. Thank YOU for sharing your story. You are an inspiration. I am 47, a 2-time breast can't-sir (LOVE THIS!) survivor, and I see Dr. C at the same oncology office as your doc. My treatments were Sept-Nov 2012. I recognize many of the nurses names you listed and I agree that the nurses are so amazing.

    All the best to you.

    1. Thanks for your comment Kristin! Much love to you!

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