The Freedom to Belch in Public

A couple weekends ago, Ainsley and I were out touring a local gym. As we headed up the stairs with the membership salesperson, listening as he described the cardio room, Ains let out a massive belch. When we got to the top of the stairs, she let out a second burp. Exercisers from across the room glanced over on their treadmills and elliptical machines, smiling at the discovery that such a tiny person had just let out such a booming sound.

When babies burp it’s adorable and hilarious but as adults this kind of behavior is taboo and quite simply, gross. At some point in our lives, we become aware of what is and isn’t acceptable socially and we begin to adapt our behavior accordingly.

While most of us would probably admit that belching in public is not preferable, there are other parts of ourselves that we hide due to embarrassment, insecurity or shame. For example, financial hardship, marital strife, a difficult child… we often don’t let others in on these struggles because we don’t want them to think we aren’t holding our families together. Or what about depression, anxiety or anger issues. At some point we learned that these are family secrets, not to be let out beyond the walls we’ve built around our lives.

If others find out, we fear they may reject us. They may not think we’re perfect (although, did they ever?). They may think we can’t keep it together… that we have issues. We were told that our tears are not worth shedding. That we “are just overreacting.” That “it’s not that bad.” That other people “have real problems.” We learned to hide instead of bring these feelings, circumstances and struggles out into the open. We are afraid that if we do, others may not like us anymore or we may become outcasts, when in reality, letting people in often results in the opposite; closeness with others and freedom for ourselves.

Sharing is a risk. It requires vulnerability. This is not easy and for some, the concept is entirely foreign. Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown, says in the Huffington Post article, Dare to Live Greatly:

Vulnerability is about uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We have convinced ourselves that if we armor up every day — if we try to be perfect or know everything — then somehow we can minimize the things we fear feeling the most: disappointment, fear, shame, and unworthiness. But these emotions are part of the human experience. When we minimize them, we end up cutting ourselves off from the meaningful experiences that are born of vulnerability — that require vulnerability — including belonging, joy, creativity, innovation, trust, and empathy.

So how do we become more vulnerable, or at least more comfortable with the idea? According to Brene Brown:

What we need to figure out is how to have the courage to show up, to be imperfect, be human, be seen, ask for help, own our mistakes, learn from failure, lean into joy, and celebrate success.

That’s quite a list. What I’m working on right now is her first point; having the courage to show up.

This season has not been easy for Jake and me. Our little family has had our world turned upside down from a place of comfort and stability to the unfamiliar realities of parenthood, stressful work environments and isolation in a fast-paced new city. Each day we start over. We wake up to a fresh start and even if we accomplish nothing else, we simply try to be positive and present. We simply show up.

The Truth About My Messy House and My Messy Life

You know what really gets to me? People who seem like they have it all together. You know the ones… the mom of four who you’d never guess was a mom at all by the looks of her washboard abs. Or the seemingly super happy person who always posts pics on Facebook of exciting adventures with their perfect family that surely never fights or disagrees about anything. I know it’s my naivete getting the best of me, but at times I actually believe the lie that some people have it all together. My mind begins to spiral and I start feeling really bad about my own level of accomplishment – or lack thereof.

If I think about it hard enough I know that no one has a blemish-free life. We like to pretend we do. We overcompensate. You know, look completely polished on the outside so people don’t find out that on the inside we feel chaotic and confused and lonely. We are so incredibly fearful of losing people, or losing the approval of people, that we choose to hide instead. What would people think if they knew the truth? That the woman with the washboard abs spends three hours in the gym every morning while her kids are at school. And don’t even talk about how bad she wants to say yes to that coffee cake only to find herself skipping breakfast most mornings in favor of just the coffee. Or that the Facebook friend only posts their absolute best, cutest pics and not the ones that highlight pimples and back fat.

I wonder if we were a little more honest about what’s going on inside and a little less protective of the outside part of us, the part everyone sees, that the people we encounter would feel that they’ve finally met their kindred spirit. If our vulnerability would actually enhance our relationships instead of turn people running, like we so often fear.

This isn’t easy though. I get that. So in order to clear up any rumors that I have it all together (ha, ha right?) here are a few insights into my inner world:

  • I can’t remember the last time I swept the floors and my house is collecting dust balls in ever corner.
  • Not only do I hardly ever sweep, when I do I am one of those people who doesn’t move the furniture around but rather sweeps around it. So if you were to remove everything off our living room floor you’d find a couch-shaped dust pile, an exersaucer-shaped dust pile and a variety of other furniture and toy-shaped dust piles throughout the house.
  • Lately, out of the blue, I have been having irrational fears about Ainsley getting sick.
  • There has been a huge Diapers.com box on the floor of our entryway for like four days.
  • I am one of those people who doesn’t take the clothes out of the dryer until I do a load of wash and actually need to use our dryer. So there is currently a load of clothes in our dryer that has been there for about five/six days since I last did laundry.
  • Most days I can be found wearing one of five outfits: (1) black leggings with blue v-neck fleece I “borrowed” from a friend 12 years ago, (2) maternity jeans with red shirt and gray hoody, (3) Jake’s navy blue pajama pants with Duke sweatshirt, (4) Jake’s gray sweatpants with USC hoody, or (5) black workout pants with white tank top.
  • More often the than not, the above five outfits have bodily fluids stained on them.
  • I much prefer to post pics of my daughter on social media sites than of myself because I have not yet come to terms with my post-preggo body and would prefer to hide it a little longer.

pic

So there. That’s my life right now. No makeup, unpolished. My homemaking skills are still in process and I should probably incorporate a few more outfits into the rotation. And while I’d like to say it feels good to be honest, it’s still a little scary. But maybe if we all did this it wouldn’t be so bad.

Linking up with Still Being Molly

Day 16 – “The Power of Vulnerability”

This is a phenomenal video! I encourage all of you to take 20 minutes out of your day to watch this! Brene Brown is a researcher who studies human connection… vulnerability, shame and authenticity. She is funny, personable and WILL speak to YOU, right now, right where you’re at. I promise! Think about these concepts and how they apply to your life and your relationships. Whether you are a parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, counselor, church volunteer/leader, friend, coworker, son or daughter (or many of the above) you will relate. Let me know your thoughts below and feel free to share with the people in your life who could also benefit.

 

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