This week I've felt particularly overwhelmed by what's going on in my life. Each day feels like there is another new massive issue to navigate and to be honest it's making me want to hit the eject button!
My eject button is New Zealand. Pre-covid I was managing to go visit family at least once or twice a year. That physical separation of flying over the ditch and spending a few days with my family is incredibly restorative. Going to Mums and seeing what was in her pantry then watching some discovery channel with Dad just makes me feel happy!
The reality of adult life somehow doesn’t affect me there. Having those precious few days surrounded by people who truly care about me (Mum + Sister) gives me time to reflect and talk about things I’m finding difficult or overwhelming in a completely safe environment.
After a few days I’d be ready to head back to Australia with a restored sense of calm and confidence, ready to take on the reality of my life. I miss that. I’m actually crying as I write this when I think about how much I miss my family in NZ. God, what I’d do to have my sister make me a cuppa in one of her ginormous tea cups and spend the afternoon talking shit!
This week I’ve been reading Brené Brown's The Gift of Imperfection, a book my friend lent me knowing I would love it! My friend was right! Brené has written many books that focus around her findings on researching Shame and how it affects people. In this particular book she has come to the conclusion that people who responded well or at least better to life's twists and turns do so from a place of wholehearted living.
Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done today and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
We all struggle with shame and the fear of not being enough. In moments of shame it’s almost impossible to hold onto any perspective or to recall anything positive about yourself.
Understanding this is life changing. I’m so quick to focus on a problem and forget everything good or wonderful that has ever happened to me! That’s why things get dark so quickly. It can be really hard to draw on your self-worth in these moments. It takes courage.
Courage to reach out.
Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it - it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy.
Who we share our stories with is important. It requires compassion and connection and not everyone on your friends list is going to offer that. You need someone who you know will embrace you for your strengths and struggles. Friends to avoid are the ones who add to the shame tornado by feeling sorry for you or embarrassed on your behalf. Nothing like a catastrophizer to really make you feel worse about yourself.
When you make the right connection with someone, shame doesn’t stand a chance. I think that is why I miss NZ so much right now - they are my guaranteed connection. That's not to say I don’t have many wonderful and truly fulfilling friendships in Australia. Luckily that's not the case at all but I spoke to Matt (husband) about connecting with the right people the other day and he had a valid and interesting point - a lot of the stresses in mine and Matt’s lives we are facing together (family / businesses / money / home / I could go on...) and sharing these with each other isn’t necessarily helpful! There needs to be a certain level of separation so you can actually share the story - rather than just tell Matt what he already knows! Believe me, I’ve tried - it adds to the stress!
The important thing to remember is that sharing in the key. When we keep to ourselves things begin to fester. In our social media drenched existence these days people are so concerned about being perfect and not letting any of the cracks show that it's easy to forget that you're not alone. Everyone feels shitty some of the time - hopefully not all of the time.
When we reach out and connect with others we are not only sharing for our own benefit but hopefully for the benefit of others. I’m so grateful that I have a handful of people in my life that I can depend on for that true connection and it makes me feel very proud that I can be that person for them. This is something I like to remember when I think that everything is fucked.