So this is some of my latest inner dialogue:
“ELearning is haaarrrrd! I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“I wish I could see my family for the holidays… I miss them.”
“I’m lonely. And bored. And frustrated. By everything!!”
“This suuuuucks. When will life return to normal?!”
I’m sorry guys; I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I know I don’t really have it that bad, and that there are other people dealing with much more difficult circumstances right now.
Eckhart Tolle reminds us that complaining is one of the ego’s greatest tricks to keep us from being present. He writes in A New Earth, “Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in. Whether you complain aloud or only in thought makes no difference…The implication is always: This should not be happening; I don’t want to be here; I don’t want to be doing this; I’m being treated unfairly.”
Yeah, yeah, I hear these implications in my inner dialogue. I hear the whiny tone, the resentment of having to deal with these inconveniences life has been throwing at me (at all of us).
But, come on, Eckhart, I am only human! I have emotions and sometimes my ego is steering the ship. And these Covid times are full of unprecedented challenges.
I am overwhelmed by the daily struggles of motivating my two small children to engage in a virtual classroom; I am bored of this routine of assist-redirect-reward-punish-act cheerful-stay home-watch screens-repeat. I genuinely yearn for a return to normalcy and for a reduction of the underlying buzz of anxiety that has become the background noise to our lives.
Perhaps, when re-worded, these are no longer “complaints” but rather expressions of my open and vulnerable truth. My consciousness is guiding me to share these feelings rather than shove them down, so that I will be able to work through them instead of get stuck inside them:
“Hey everyone! I’m feel some strong emotions over here! I may look ok on the outside, but I’m letting you know that I’ve got big FEELS happening and I may need a hug! Anyone else?” 🥺
It wasn’t always easy, this public baring of my soul.
I definitely spent most of my life feeling like I was supposed to have it together. Everyone said so: my parents, my teachers, my peers, Society. Every sign I saw made it perfectly clear: vulnerability = weakness. I hid my emotions and shame beneath a façade of bravado and humor.
Women are already struggling up hills in our male-dominated world. We fear that we cannot let ourselves be seen as emotion-riddled, regretful, stumbling, doubting, soft-Sallies…or else we will not be taken seriously.
Pretend you have it all together is the mantra of the Woman in Western Society. (If you must crumble into a heap of sobs, please do so behind closed doors – preferably at home, with a mirror handy, so you are able to appear polished again when you re-emerge.)
There are days I leak tears uncontrollably, overcome by the challenges of parenting or despair over this never-ending cycle of pandemic and quarantine. I get angry – at myself, at those I love, at the stubbornness of the world. Sometimes I feel small and lost and alone. Sometimes I feel like my life is directionless, like my identity has been swept away in a tide of sippy cups and youth sports, an infinite loop of school pickups, trash days, and meal plans.
My vulnerability is not “complaining.” It is not “attention-seeking.” I don’t claim to have hard knocks or burdens to bear. I just wear my humanity on my sleeve, because it’s okay to have hard days and feel deep emotions. It’s okay to get mired in the struggle once in a while. Being human is what we do, because, well, we’re all human.
This raw truth-telling is a gift I give to myself and others. It’s my way of honoring my self-discovery and growth. It’s my way of saying to those around me, “I see you. You are not alone.”
I let others see under my skin, into the soft parts of my soul that reflect back the soft parts in the souls of others. I trust them to be gentle with my softness and bareness. Usually they are, and I feel a deeper love for the humans with whom I share this earth. Sometimes they aren’t, and I find the lesson and become stronger for it. Not more guarded, not even less vulnerable, but stronger in my core and better at diverting my energy towards those who will receive me as I am.
We are only organic meaty creatures, held together by synapses and emotions. When we allow ourselves to fully feel into these emotions and express them, we become one step closer to understanding that our thoughts do not own us, but rather the other way around. We are able to know what it means to be more than living organisms, but to actually be awake, conscious, and truly alive.
Vulnerability also open us up to deeper relationships with the people in our lives. It shifts us from surface pleasantries into a true knowing of each other. And it grants us permission to ask for help and receive it when it comes our way.
Vulnerability exposes our common threads – the humanness we share with each other, even those whose beliefs and actions seem to oppose our own.
So I share with you my ragged thoughts, even at the risk of being labeled a “complainer.” Because it keeps me free and it makes me whole.