Honesty is the easiest, hardest thing in the world.
Deep down we know what’s true, the things that feel good and right for us. That’s the easy bit.
The hard part is admitting it.
We feel our emotions aren’t worthy of expression, so we suppress them. Then we feel bad about how we feel. Then we feel bad about feeling bad.
In response, we perpetually pressure ourselves with shame dressed up as pep talks. We tell ourselves we should feel better. We should be better. We should get better.
Here’s the thing though: Should is a bastard and better is a bitch and what really matters is which truth you’re telling – the one you think you should, or the one you know you can’t. It’s a tough decision when both answers are wrong, and so we end up shoulding all over ourselves.
I should study this degree I hate because my parents prefer it that way.
I should keep my dreams locked in cage.
I should stay with him even though I know he’s not right for me.
I should buy this thing to impress those friends despite the debt and regret it will bring.
I should lose weight. I should talk less. I should try harder. I should act smarter.
We’re uncertain how our heart will take the rejection we tell ourselves awaits us when everyone discovers how we really feel and who we really are. Meanwhile, the shoulds keep growing stronger and spreading until we are up to our eyeballs. We are in deep should.
And so we bury our truth.
We swallow our anger and store it in our stomach. We hide hurt in our bones and we place pain in our… pancreas.
It’s all in there, everything we felt or feared, all the things we pretend don’t hurt us.
They’re there, in us.
Our bodies become a dusty attic devoted to the past and we carefully wrap our aggravations up tight. We place them in boxes in stack after stack, and they sit and they sit and maybe some cockroaches move in with a family of rats and a few moths start hanging out and then a spider arrives and before long there’s cobwebs clinging to the rafters of our heart and now, when we look at our soul space, it’s scary as fuck.
What began as a simple storage area is now a haunted house.
So we stay away.
We run and we hide from what’s inside.
Spiders? Fuck that. I’m gone.
Cockroaches and rats? No chance. Peace.
Dust and dirt and grime? Nope. Cleaning sucks. I’m not doing that shit.
The problem is this: Nothing inside us stays lost. We don’t lose our emotions in our bodies. We lose ourselves and who we are. We lose our way, we lose our strength, and then we lose hope.
We bury our feelings, hoping that we can just move on to tomorrow and forget about today, but our pain waits, festers, and ferments into something nastier and gnarlier. We refuse to tidy up and, eventually, we make a mess.
Our anger turns to bitterness. Our sorrow saps our self-esteem. Our rejection resurrects as fear and hopelessness. We neglect ourselves.
Slowly, we change.
We become the people we never wished to be. We stop standing up for what we believe, we don’t laugh so loud, and we try timid out and discover the comfortable conformity of normal. We grow tense and turn antsy.
Given time, our trauma transforms into triggers, and the softest scenes set us off: The sound of his voice. The burn of alcohol. A compliment. Sarcasm. The mirror.
Our body is the elephant in the room: It doesn’t forget, and it’s impossible to ignore (even if you really want to). Nothing is released unless we free it. Hurt just kind of gets stuck inside us, a constipation of the soul.
What’s the answer?
The answer is the easiest, hardest thing in the world.
Climb up into your attic. Sit down for a second.
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.
Then get to cleaning.
Open the boxes and the windows. Let the light in. Get some fresh air in there.
Progress isn’t always hustle and bustle, to do lists, and the grind. It isn’t lack of sleep or networking, and it’s definitely not being busy.
Sometimes progress is a silent room. Sometimes progress means living your truth.
Sometimes progress means freedom.