I used to tell a lot of half-truths. Not on purpose. I just didn’t know how to be honest about who I was or what I needed or what felt right to me. I spent a lot of time demanding that my feelings be wrong and I’d stuff them down and they’d come right back into my throat as I tried to sleep, the darkness and the silence a perfect muse for my personal betrayals. I didn’t want to admit certain things about myself, sometimes this would be fueled by shame and other times from fear of rejection and other times just any way fear could be manifested (which, is a lot of ways as it turns out).
And, it has only been recently that I’ve realized each of these tiny betrayals multiply and soon they become walls that I’ve put up between myself and others and between myself and my true self. I used to think it was polite or proper or better or whatever to keep my feelings to myself, to acclimate around someone else instead of speaking out against a behavior I didn’t love, and that it was better to quit, to run, to cut out, than it was to stick, to stay. I’ve never been great at staying. Or, as it turns out, telling the actual truth. These were, apparently, not my strong suits, without my even realizing it. I thought for many years that going to sleep with that heavy-hearted panic was normal.
Here’s the thing we don’t realize about the parts of ourselves we hide away from the world: those secrets, those little half-truths end up owning us. We define ourselves by the things we are not saying, by the things we keep on our heart we don’t let out. And, we become consumed almost entirely not by what we are doing, but what we are not doing; not by what we are saying, but what we are not saying. Our secrets, our little betrayals we commit onto ourselves, our I’m fine’s when we’re not fine, these end up becoming much more than small, momentary infractions. They multiply. And, each of these betrayals lead us further and further from being true to ourselves.
Here in LA, I used to go to Marianne Williamson’s Monday night spiritual lectures and, at least once a night at those lectures, Marianne would talk about how we are safest in our vulnerability and defenselessness. That was one of those spiritual concepts that I would take in and I’d nod and I’d think, yeah, that’s a good idea on the surface, but I had no practical application of the concept, so it was still an abstract, floaty idea of something that sounded like it was probably going to be true.
I think I get it now. And I feel what she means about feeling safe in our defenselessness. When we empty our hearts of fears and those feelings we truly do not want to be feeling, but are feeling regardless of our desire to feel them, what is there to protect ourselves from? When we have nothing to hide, what can be used against us? When we are no longer owned by the secrets and betrayals and hidden parts of ourselves, then wouldn’t it follow that we’d be free?
Because, if you think about it, we spend a lot of time hiding ourselves away in one way or another. We try to be people we are not. We chase after things without ever examining why we’re chasing in the first place. We live on autopilot. We survive. And, that’s okay. Sometimes we have to do that. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of self-examination because we are far too consumed with the business of living.
Yet, we must practice emptying our hearts. We can no longer be owned and dictated by what we’re hiding away. We must face the world with radical empty-heartedness. This is the only way we know if we’re being authentic. And, I know, I know, the word “authentic” has been bastardized to an almost imperceptible, nauseating point, but all it means is the truth of you. We can’t hold onto people in our lives who don’t know the Truth of Us. Because, what we’re doing when we hide ourselves away is giving ourselves a false sense of security, that if we become who we think we should be as dictated by everyone but the person that matters (you), then we will be able to bring forward that which we desire.
We have it backwards though. It is when we become empty-hearted that we can attract into our lives that which is meant to be there, that which will bring forth what we need to have brought forth. We can’t manipulate people into loving us or manipulate jobs or manipulate dreams to manifest. Well, I guess, we can, technically. But, that’s not the kind of life you or I want.
Once we can face the world completely defenseless, empty-hearted, with nothing to lose, nothing to be afraid of losing, no identity too strongly-held to us, no secrets, no betrayals, that is when the magic happens. That’s when we start cultivating a life of richness in ways that have very little to do with money. It’s deepness. Deeper relationships. Stronger love. More truth. More knowing. The lessening of that panic-state of being found out, seen.
We can bring forward the real stuff. The work and career that will lift us up, perhaps at a company or in an industry we never thought we’d be in. The relationships with lovers and friends we never expected, but which fit perfectly. The experiences that are more us, deeper, more enriching, things we’d never think to try, but are exactly what brings out the best parts of who we are. This is when it gets good, right at the empty-hearted point. When you take what’s inside and turn it out for the world to see. When you are immortalized and invincible not from death, but from fear. Because, really, fear is what we’re afraid of anyway. Yet, invincible from the siren call of fear. What could be possible then?