Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Ain't Scared"

I have loved Brené Brown for a long time but recently a dear friend turned me back on to her. I'm sure I'll talk about this friend a good bit in the coming posts, so let's give her a name right now. I'm going to call her Emp. That's short for "empath" because an empath is someone who is capable of feeling another person's emotions. (You know who you are and you see me...)

Las Vegas from the Space Station...if you think that's
bright, you should see them from an airplane!
If you have ever been to a really good massage therapist, or physical therapist, or chiropractor, you are going to know what I'm talking about here. You go in and say "My leg hurts, pretty much all over." They look at you with a devilish grin and put one finger on the EXACT spot that causes excruciating pain that sends you to the floor in a withering puddle! Well Emp is like that with emotions. Now, I have to say I feel like an open book with emotions. I feel like I can't hide ANY emotion I have EVER. So maybe she really doesn't have the super powers I think she does. Maybe reading me is like seeing the lights of Las Vegas from an airplane, at night. But, she not only reads me, she reads me out loud, TO me. And she points to emotions in me that I haven't been able (willing) to see, or that I haven't looked at in a long time.

Shifting gears here because that was getting a little uncomfortable...

So, back to Brené Brown (because that's a little easier).... First of all, you know who she is right? In June 2010 she did a TED talk where she had a breakdown "spiritual awakening". After talking with Emp, I found a second TED talk she did on shame. In this short video, Brené defines shame as "the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging." She goes on to say shame needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence and judgment. But when you put emapthy on it, shame can not survive. Shame depends on me buying into the idea that I am alone. Shame says "you are not enough" and if that doesn't work it says "who do you think you are?".

Hmmmm....that's incredibly uncomfortable.

Let's shift gears again...

I remember when I found out Santa Claus wasn't real. (That's WAY less uncomfortable than where I was going, trust me.)

I was a BIG believer in Santa. Santa was AMAZING. He knew when my very favorite baby doll was getting worn out and would bring me a new one. He knew when I had moved on to bigger things and brought me a play kitchen with fake canned goods! He knew when I stopped playing house and started playing with Barbies and he brought me every Barbie toy under the sun (except the dream condo, I never got that...but I did get the sail boat and the Corvette). One day my best friend at the time told me her parents told her Santa wasn't real. She said he was made up by parents and parents bought the presents. I was DEVASTATED. I asked my mom, searching for clues. She said if (she who shall not be named, because no one is named in my blog) didn't believe in Santa that's why he didn't bring her gifts. If I believed then I would get the goods. So I asked Santa for a TV! But I wanted to be sure he was real so when I wrote the backup letter I didn't only ask for a TV, I asked for....

...wait for it...

A Bing Crosby White Christmas record album!!!! (You thought I was going to say pony, didn't you?) No, we didn't have a yard big enough for a pony and even Santa couldn't fix that!

Well...on Christmas morning I saw the TV, but I kept looking. AND THERE IT WAS!!! Bing Crosby smiling at me saying in his buttery smooth voice, "SANTA CLAUS IS REAL!!!!!" I was overjoyed at receiving that album!! I can't remember what I had for lunch two days ago, but I vividly remember jumping up and down at the sight of that album!!

A couple of months (maybe days or weeks, but it seems like months) later I found the letter I had written Santa...OPENED...in my MOTHER'S PURSE!!!! (GASP!!) I think she fed me some line about how Santa had sent it back to her so she could keep it like she kept my baby teeth. But the damage was done.

I felt like a fool. I had practically punched my disbelieving friend in the face with that album as proof positive he was real--because I had NEVER told ANYONE about wanting that album. I had never even said it out loud. The only utterance of my want was that letter. And I had believed he was real because my want had been delivered to me. And my belief was shattered.

What does this have to do with anything?

I had that same feeling last night. I was FaceBook chatting with the moderator of a FB support group I had asked to join for Autoimmune Encephalopathy. He told me the admins of this group are basically on top of every research study done and they don't allow functional medicine stuff to be bandied about on the forum. He said there is no magic cure for this thing I've been told I have. There is no cure. There is no spice or herb or special diet that will stop this thing going on in my brain.

Did you hear that? There's no special diet.

I felt like he told me Santa isn't real.

And then he went on to tell me some Autoimmune Encephalopathies come baring the gift of cancer that shows up a couple of years after diagnosis.

So, you tell me that I basically have no control over this thing that is happening to me, and there's a chance it could do even MORE bad things to me?


In one of these videos (probably this one) Brené says perfectionism is a coping mechanism to avoid blame, shame or judgment.

Can I tell you one more story?

When I was little I wasn't a good tooth brusher. My mom had to be on me all the time about it. When I was in junior high I needed braces. I believed the terrible lie (that I had made up in my own mind) that the need for braces was connected to me not brushing good enough. And now my lack, my dereliction was on display for all to see. (To be clear, I didn't think that of anyone else who had braces, it was just about me.) I was so happy when they came off because my teeth were perfect.


I want to say I'm not scared. I want to say I'm in control. I want to BELIEVE those statements. And I don't want any of this to be showing me something more about myself, about how I "do life". But I am convinced people live at a pattern level. This is why I can watch how you swim and know how you handle adversity. I can watch how you ride your bike and can know how you are in your marriage. This is how Emp can listen to me babble on about diet and surface level life mumbo jumbo and she can know what's really going on. I can see it in everyone else, but I sure don't like looking in the mirror.

I WANT my current health situation to be my "fault" because then I'm also in control.  What's so ironic about that is that being in control also leaves me open for (self) shame, (self) blame and (self) judgement. I don't need anyone to tell me I'm not enough or ask me who I think I am, I do it to myself every single day. And the truth is I do it in an attempt to avoid being seen for what I really am...scared and vulnerable.

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