When I want to write, produce something of value, be creative, or do anything good, I have to be real. I have a pretty good bullshit detector and can smell people being fake from a mile away. I expect my tribe to have the same level of expectations of me and my work. I’m not going to put something out in the ether that is flimsy or phony. But to make great work, you have to get vulnerable.
And being vulnerable is uncomfortable sometimes. Honestly, writing a blog, dedicating my energy and brain power to putting words out on the internet is not normal. Not to give myself too much credit, but sometimes I feel a little gutsy for doing so. I’m always opening myself up to potential criticism.
But being vulnerable is not about weakness. Or fear. It’s just about being open.
It’s kind of like when you’re JUST ABOUT to have really great sex. And you completely give yourself over, lose yourself in the sensation, the excitement, the anticipation, the mood, the emotion, the music, whatever. You’re not thinking about how your mom’s gonna hate this guy and hmm, he doesn’t have a car, or a job… is he a loser? You’re just THERE. Vulnerability is being conscious of that electric feeling you get when he touches you. You’re completely open to what is happening in that moment and just fully giving yourself. Giving yourself.
That’s what I’m talking about. Being vulnerable in a way that is real. That is human. Open. And giving. When you’re too busy pouring yourself into the situation that you’re not thinking about what ifs.
Like what if I get hurt.
True hurt, the kind that feels like you’ve been eaten alive. The kind that feels like you’ve been sucker punched. You can’t catch your breath. You can’t even breathe.
Welcome to my life recently.
When we get hurt, we harden.
It’s a natural way to react. It’s a defense mechanism. A snake will strike when it senses danger because it’s trying to survive, not because it’s an asshole. The same thing goes for humans- we’re all just trying to survive, and we implement these coping mechanisms in order to keep living without being hurt.
So in some areas of my life, I’ve withdrawn. In order to keep showing up for work, being normal with my friends, etc., something had to give. After what I’ve gone through in the last few weeks, I’ve had to work back towards being comfortable with opening up again. I couldn’t even open up to myself, because what I was dealing with under the hood of my car was way too big a mess to even look at. Instead of dealing with that mess, I’ve been distracting myself with filler material. Throwing myself into work, flirting with boys who don’t care about me, happy hours, etc. And that distraction doesn’t make for a clear head from which to write clear thoughts.
So that’s where I’ve been, for those of you who have been sweet enough to ask. I’m working on getting back to normal, so I can be open, honest… vulnerable… with myself again. And try to be real. And produce something of value that I can put here.
I never wanted this blog to be a journal. I want to add value to the conversation, not just rant on the internet. So no, I’m not going to write about the most difficult few months of my life because it’s not interesting and you know what, everyone goes through shit.
So in the spirit of adding value, I’ve got to give some insight. With hurt, it doesn’t matter what the source is, it just matters how we deal with it. So in general, whether it be heartbreak, tragedy, disappointment, loss, insult or injury, here are my top three tips for weathering any storm.
1. You have to ask to get.
Maybe your mother was in the hospital for a few weeks after a life threatening surgery and you weren’t able to be with her. Maybe you experienced a mixture of debilitating fear and being trapped in a cage, if you will. When you are hurt or scared, you’re just not in the right headspace to make rational decisions and with so much energy devoted towards just coping with the issue, it can be hard to step up when you still have to keep your life running. But a lot of times, our friends and family don’t know what to do to help. Sometimes they don’t recognize they need to help. So you have to ask. You have to put it out there that you need some support, like someone to watch the dog and bring your mom socks in the hospital. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
2. Don’t trade your pain.
Let’s just say you went through a bad breakup. I don’t know… maybe a messy one where one person moved across the state and things fell apart three days in. Is that too specific? Well regardless, should you be suffering heartbreak, you’re going to hear plenty of platitudes and lots of advice about how to deal.
I think the worst think I’ve heard recently is the very classy anecdote, “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone new.”
Let me tell ya, ladies and gentlemen, it’s probably not the best approach. If you’re a disaster, you’re going to create more disasters. You’re off your game, you’re going to be an emotional wreck and you’re going to make something messy that probably didn’t need messing up. The only exception to this rule is if you can find someone to make out with that has the same name as your ex, so there’s no accidental shouting of the wrong name in the heat of the moment.
3. Set boundaries and enforce them.
So I have a friend. This friend had a really awful roommate. They started out as homies, getting along, connecting, giving out that loving feeling. Then this roommate gradually left reality. And lit my friend’s couch on fire. Secretly moved her boyfriend into her room. And when confronted, literally said, “He’s staying, fuck you.” Her basic disregard and disrespect for everyone around her earned their apartment an eviction notice, which was no surprise. Long story short she was asked to leave while the other roommates were allowed to stay, and she made the energy in our home… I mean my friends home… absolutely completely toxic. She was not fun to be around.
But at the end of the day, it’s my “friend” who really blew it. Let me drop some knowledge on you. It’s all about being accountable. Tony Gaskin said it best:
You treat people how to treat us by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.
There was an opportunity to put an end to this behavior, but instead, it was easier to just ignore it. And hope it would go away. And eventually, it did, but at the same time, the experience was not a positive one. It was not fun to be in that house and at the culmination of this disgusting experience, two people who were once friends walked away wanting nothing to do with one another. Which is a total bummer.
So all in all, Hi. I’m back. It sucks to be disappointed and hurt, and it’s normal to close off when it happens. But I’m ready to get weird again. I’m still just riding this wave called life, doing the best I can. But aren’t we all? You can either fight the ocean and lose, or just learn to surf.