Safiya Gideon is guest posting today and I am amazed by her account of where she is in her journey towards living HONESTLY. I dare you to read this and tell me you don't see a part of yourself somewhere in here. I hope this feeds your soul the way it did mine.
Last week my friend woke me up with a call. She had recently ended a 2 year relationship with a wonderful man whom she loved and who had loved her right, supported her dreams and pushed her to grow into more of who she wanted to be. A couple of months ago she had developed a hunch that their relationship should not continue but she couldn't explain why. She had tried to negotiate with her hunch: 'maybe we just need some time apart to become more of ourselves and then we can reunite and get married; maybe if I was a little more of this and he was a little more that, we could be together.' But her hunch became stronger, clearer, and heavier. She felt crippled by her inability to rationalize why or how she knew, but she knew, and so she broke her heart and his. She felt light. Now a few weeks later she and he were revisiting the question of their relationship. My friend was wrestling to make peace with her realization that the answer to that question, for now and the foreseeable future, was still no. She felt crazy- I mean she had been living the dream, right? And here it was giving her a second chance. She was calling me for affirmation that she wasn't making the biggest mistake of her life. Her sense that she didn't want to be in a relationship was her only clear truth. But she was also trying to reconcile this truth with her fears of regret, of failure, of insanity, and of loneliness.
Trusting yourself to make a decision that feels crazy is intensely difficult. I think it's worth acknowledging that this particular type of trusting yourself is unique. This is a 'deep soul' kind of trust, a 'thriving is surviving' kind of trust, a spiritual connection with self. This isn't like trusting yourself not to stick a piece of metal into an electrical socket. Or trusting that you're never going to like anything cherry flavored. Or even trusting that you would go down fighting in the Hunger Games arena. This kind of trust, this being 'brave enough to break your own heart,' is bold, epic, and hard wrought. Cheryl Strayed (I love her) defines trusting yourself as, "living out what you already know to be true." I understand this to mean that trusting yourself requires at minimum two things: an acknowledgement of what it is that you know is true (complex and hard to do) and the bravery to use that knowledge to direct how you live (also hard to do). Guts and gut knowledge don't develop overnight - they require years of trial and error, of practice identifying and prioritizing where your thoughts and feelings come from, of taking calculated risks, and of showing up for yourself.
Listening to my friend describe her heart struggle, I felt a deep appreciation for her ability to wade through the mud of her emotions to her deep truth. I also felt the dawning realization that my own threshold for making challenging, seemingly crazy decisions is super low. I don't think that I have done a good job with the required inner work. More than I care to admit, I don't follow through on personal goals and self-promises. I often procrastinate on honoring hunches and gut checks, and I frequently do things that I tell myself I won't. My lack of self-accountability is a deeply disappointing downward spiral. Over time I have recognized that my devastatingly routine sense of failure has muted and evolved into deeper, amorphous discomforts like a nagging anxiety, seemingly rootless paranoia, and the ever-present dust of self doubt. These are prime elements for cultivating a shaky sense of self. And I am beginning to understand how life threatening this can be. How much harder have I made it to identify what it is that I know to be true? How many chances haven't I taken? How much time have I wasted feeling insecure or afraid, playing it safe, and repressing what felt true and crazy?
Why was my girl asking me for affirmation? All I could do was hold up a mirror and tell her what I saw: that clearly her fears weren't strong enough to shake what she knew to be true; that the fears and the truth probably couldn't be reconciled, though perhaps they could temporarily co-exist; and that perhaps feeling crazy is a good thing.
And then I told her that she was brave.
By Safiya Gideon