This was always going to be an interesting activity, since I have said many times that a large part of this whole project is about vulnerability. So to step that focus up for 30 days was always going to be a challenge.
There were four specific things that I wanted to include in this activity, so it is probably best if I address each of these separately. The first three are based on Brené Brown’s amazing talks on shame, vulnerability and courage – The power of vulnerability and Listening to shame.
Courage and authenticity
I have really had to dig deep into my courage reserves for so much of this project, but in this activity I wanted to push that a little further. I’m not entirely sure that I managed to do that, but I’m also not entirely sure that I had much opportunity to be more authentic. I have had a couple of minor incidents where I was a little more vocal than I would usually be. None of these have been life changing, but they have required me to risk confrontation by speaking up.
One such incident was during the adult literacy tutor course I am currently doing. There is one guy on the course who does not stop talking when the teacher is trying to explain stuff to us. A couple of weeks ago when we were packing up for the evening he made the comment that the he didn’t think the teacher liked him because she kept glaring at him throughout class. I just looked at him and stated very simply “that is because you talk all the time”, then just went back to packing up. He just seemed to dismiss the comment, and certainly didn’t call me on it, but there was a chance that he would and I would be involved in a conversation I would really not have been comfortable with.
This may seem like nothing at all to many of you, or maybe you are like me and you understand that this sort of flippant remark does not come easily. Anyway, as little as it may seem I did give myself a mental pat on the back for the comment and for standing by it, you know not laughing it off as a joke or anything.
I had some fairly major self-compassion fails during this activity (see this post or this one for the best efforts). I did get better at being more compassionate to myself as the activity progressed though. I think the initial failings were because of the very negative mindset that I was in after completing choice and being wrong. I also think that one of the triggers to improve that situation was a really emotional and vulnerable conversation that I had with my brother on Day 299.
My perfectionism trait has taken a bit of a beating over the last eleven months, but I managed to lay the boot in a few more times during this activity. It’s not easy to kick the habits of a lifetime, but being a little more self-compassionate when I am pointing out my failings is helping. This will take a lot longer though, and in all reality I may never get there.
Connecting, or reconnecting
This is a really simple one to reflect on. It took me three weeks to get up the courage to make a phone call and send an email, and I am yet to hear anything back from either person.
I’m sort of okay with that though, because as nice as it would be to hear from them again there is a big part of me that did not expect that to happen. It has been too long, I let those friendships die and I have no right to expect to be able to revive them just because I would like to. There is of course still a chance I will hear back, but I’m not holding my breath.
Understanding my truth
The last aspect of this was based on Eve Ensler: happiness in body and soul, and it was about owning my truth. I did develop a much deeper understanding about some of this, which was greatly assisted by the conversation with my brother I mentioned earlier. This is still evolving, and I’m really not sure how much of my truth I am willing to share in this forum. But, I will say that combined with a lot of other activities and realisations along the way in this project I have realised that the thing I have always wanted in the world is encouragement and support. I have this in my adult life, I have found people who give this to me readily, but I feel that I have missed out on so much because I didn’t have this for so many years, and for the really important years.
Yet again I will say that I know I am not alone in this one. I know that there are a lot of people who feel exactly the same way about their childhoods and probably their adult lives as well. There are a whole lot of things that I have started realising about the impact this has had on my life, and I know that at the end of this project I will have a lot more to say about this aspect of it. For now, I’m scared out of my mind about what this realisation has given me, but I’m very excited at the same time.
Overall I think that this one was pretty successful. I am glad that I decided to do a dedicated activity to vulnerability, as hard as it has been there is so much that I have gained from it, and so much more to do with it. Thank you Brené and Eve for your amazing talks and what they have given me.