The Walls Come Down
After last week’s blog post where I asked myself the question “Who will you be when you become yourself?”, I received a note from an old high school friend. She and I are Facebook friends but hadn’t REALLY connected since we graduated. In the note, she vulnerably shared her thoughts about my blog posts, her past and current life experiences and thanked me for vulnerably putting myself out there and telling my story.
To say that her note made my entire day is quite an understatement. I was elated, touched and moved to tears. We communicated back and forth via Facebook, shared more of what was happening in each other’s current lives and I vulnerably asked if she would like to get together in person and reconnect, And, guess what … she said yes! We have a date to meet next week and I couldn’t be more excited to see her.
This very special interaction with my old friend got me thinking about the proverbial walls I had built around myself over the years.
After Mom died, I wanted connection more than ANYTHING else. For me, connection meant to belong to a complete family, to feel loved unconditionally, to feel wanted and to feel like I was good enough. The funny thing was, the more I wanted connection, the higher the walls I built.
And … after 32 years of perfecting the walls … mine finally started to crumble. The walls were too high and I could no longer sustain them. I started to crack and so did they.
My first crack came late last year when I vulnerably told my Dad I had decided to start a business around Mom Loss and that I would be sharing my story. I thought for sure he would be upset somehow and that he wouldn’t understand why I wanted to talk about losing Mom all these years later. At that point, I had written a few chapters in my book which recounts the story of Mom dying and he asked if I would be willing to read some of what I had written the next time we got together. I agreed.
I went to visit Dad and Mom Sharyn a few weeks later with my chapters in hand. All through dinner, I didn’t bring it up. Over dessert I starting praying that they had forgotten altogether and was convinced they weren’t going to approach the topic. We were sipping our tea and Dad said “ I thought you were going to read us some of your book tonight”.
My heart stopped. I was so worried that my recollection of losing Mom and my experiences after she died would hurt him in some way and bring up all the old wounds we had all been running from all these years.
I decided it was now or never.
I opened my laptop and started to read. It wasn’t long before my own tears started to come as I recalled the day she died as I had written it in the book. It was hard enough to write all this down when I was alone late at night writing in bed but reading it in front of them was nearly impossible.
I paused for a moment to compose myself and looked up and saw Mom and Dad looking at me intently. Dad had tears in his eyes so I stopped reading and just waited … for what seemed like a lifetime. What happened next was the most open and honest conversation we three had ever had. We cried and hugged and cried some more. I cried because we were talking about her for the first time … like REALLY talking …. like REALLY connecting. I left their house that night feeling surrounded by love and lighter than I had felt in years. And to think, I was going to chicken out and not read the book to them.
In the days, weeks and months that have followed since late last year, we have had many REAL conversations about Mom, about life, about what we went through as a family, about remembering her, and about all the beautiful gifts she left behind. Our relationship changed that night … we are connecting in ways I never thought possible.
And all because I let the wall down … just for few minutes and just low enough for someone to be able to climb over and see me.
My other relationships have changed too. The relationships with my brothers, my friends (old and new), my colleagues and even a few people I didn’t know … they have all changed … because little by little, I am letting down the wall.
Vulnerability is a funny and very powerful thing. It seems as though when I am vulnerable it gives others the opportunity and the freedom to do the same. Not in a tit for tat kind of way but in the way of true connection.
For years, I thought I was alone in my grief, and pain and in all my endless insecurities. But in these last months, I have found that I am not the only one with these struggles … and when I allow others to see behind the wall … their walls come down too. The beautiful part is that I have realized I am not alone … I NEVER was … and now I know what true connection really is.
And there is no going back …
My wall is coming down … one vulnerable conversation at a time.
So much love,
P.S. What struggles have you shared that helped take someone else’s wall down? I would love to hear your story in the comments below.