Lately I’ve been immersed in a process of revelation. I just completed writing a book that details the journey I took with my best friend, Annette, over the years as she eventually lost her battle with brain cancer. It has been an intense and emotional process and one that has put in me yet another position of vulnerability and revelation. Doing anything creative opens us up for all kinds of judgments (and even ridicule). When we reveal the truth of our journeys, and the truth of what we experience and feel, the risks are so great that we often shrink back behind the veil of what we think we should look like to the world around us.
Throughout the process of writing and editing the book, I was taken to new places of reflection and realization. At times it was a painful process as I stripped away the final layers of my protective covering, but it reminded me of how beautiful life truly is when we are wiling to risk judgment for revelation. Annette and I trusted each other and refused to let society dictate to us how we would treat each other or express our love and care for each other. As a result, we risked all kinds of ridicule and misperceptions but we didn’t care because we found something that far surpassed the fear of rejection and ridicule: the strength of being understood and loved without condition.
The revealing of ourselves is often a painful experience. Whether it is due to the revelation of traits we are not proud of or simply the revelation of our emotions in their most raw state, the result often brings us pain. We don’t like to be vulnerable, and we don’t like our relationships to get out of balance between give and take…or revelation and reticence. Even in our most difficult emotional moments, it is often hard to let down our guard or know that we need to reach out to someone who we know loves and cares about us. We would rather curl up into a corner by ourselves and bear our burdens alone instead of “troubling” someone else with our struggles or let them see us in our fragile state. Not only that, we don’t want to BE fragile with someone else because it opens us up to more hurt if we are not embraced in our fragility, or worse, judged for it.
Recently I had the amazing blessing of being able to help someone I love get through a difficult time. Interestingly, it happened at a time when I was struggling with my own internal issues, but the moment she became vulnerable, nothing could have stopped me from being there to support her. All the things I was struggling with suddenly paled in comparison to the love and care I felt for another person. It was an honor to have someone lay their heart in my hands for a short while and to be trusted to not injure it. It was humbling to be allowed to care for someone who needed to be cared for in that moment. And it was beautiful to see the openness and vulnerability of another’s spirit – even if it was something they would have fought to hide under normal circumstances. It strengthened and comforted me far more than any strength or comfort I provided for her. It was as a result of this experience that I remembered why honesty matters so much in our relationships and in our lives. It reminded me why I had been willing to pour intimate details of my life into a book for all to read. It whispered to me, “Without revelation and fragility you will never experience true acceptance and strength.”
It was that experience that gave me courage to keep moving forward in the midst of my own struggles. It strengthened me to know life is full of relationships that help us grow and it made me proud of my own revelations I shared within the book I just finished. It reduced my fears of being judged or rejected for the exposure of my own heart. Revealing ourselves, or becoming openly fragile for a while, allows us the opportunity to see love manifested in the ways someone else cares for us. But beyond that, it also allows us the opportunity to strengthen those same people in ways we can’t even understand. We need to stop being so worried about those who will reject us if we reveal our true selves and focus on those who embrace us more purely and love us because we reveal our true selves. And as I say that, I can’t help but think, “Annette would be so proud.”