The world is crying out for raw authenticity. For integrity. For honesty. To be heard and loved. For human connection. For rules to be ignored in favor of true caring.
How do I know?
Everywhere I go…when I tell people I’m a mental health therapist, and share such a tiny piece of myself with them…I get confessions. Open. Raw. On the street corner. In the bar, in the hostel, spa, gas station, on the side of the road in rural towns. For example, I went to Texas for 4 days, and these are some of the stories I heard:
”My son has a half sister who is 3 months younger than him…and it’s my best friend’s child.” -cashier
“I have a confession to tell you. I am HIV+ and I am having to put my brother in jail for not taking care of his children back in my home country” -gypsy
“My guy and I are trying to make it work. He wants to do very different things than I want to, and yet we still love each other. It’s so hard though…hearing how little he wants to compromise for me.” -writer
“I’ll tell you the truth, I’m bipolar and major depressive disorder, and I want to get help, I really do. The State of Texas is like 48th for mental health care…and it really hurts my feelings that people think I’m just seeking drugs. Do I really look like a drug user? I mean…I self medicated with marijuana a long time ago, but I honestly just want to feel better now.” -guy on the corner
“My son has speech apraxia, and everyone’s been telling that he’ll never speak right…my heart has been torn between telling them off, and feeling like they may be right. You are inspiring to me, because I can hear that your voice isn’t perfect and you’re willing to talk anyway.” -girl at the bar
“You know what? I saved someone’s life once after I got out of the psych ward. For some reason, the police officers used me to negotiate with someone threatening to jump off a bridge…and I talked them down. I know first hand how powerful having intervention can be. I overdosed 20 years ago and vowed to change my life and help people get better after someone helped me.” -Goodwill worker
“I do look for social acceptance desperately…I don’t know why it’s so hard to accept that I am okay just as I am.” -student
“I used to be in love with this guy, and then he changed his style. He used to be transparent, and now? What the heck do he do with all his money now that he has it? Why pretend that you’re living a certain way just to make people love/hate you?” -student
“My work got rejected. It would be so nice if they would let me know why, so I can get better. They’ve already rejected me, why does it matter if my heart takes a few more minutes of their time? Why does it have to be automated?” -artist
“I walked away from a 5 bedroom house fully furnished, from a man who loved me deeply. I did it, because we weren’t right for each other and to save my soul. I got a lot of weird looks and “Are you crazy?!” but I had to follow my heart.” -car wash attendant
“You know, I gained 60 pounds because I just got sucked into life and forgot about me. I didn’t take care of myself. I’m actually surprised that I’m not more uncomfortable here with all these naked women, because I’ve been struggling with the feeling of being unworthy and unwantable for years.” -spa goer
“My ex and I created a child, and lost it..and now I get the shakes every time I see a newborn baby.” -manager
“I feel like you’re something special. I know you’re out of my league, but I needed to talk to you tonight about all this stuff with my kids. I feel like blowing my brains out over all the time I’ve lost with my girls. I’m working on it…but I know I can do better.” -man at the bar
“I worry too much about my son. He’s almost 18 and I worry every night he gets home late that he’s died.” -financial manager
This stunned me. I spent less than 5 minutes talking to these people and this is what they shared with me. I hope I provided supportive &/or challenging, adequate feedback that they needed. I wonder how their story shifted because I tried in some small way to be there with them in the moment.
Sites like Post Secret and Made Me Think are wildly successful because we feel safer telling a stranger things than the people who have bogged us down with fathoms of pain. The online world, though, tends to not offer that deeply multidimensional touch of face to face interaction.
The point of all of this? We need more love. More acceptance. We need more people willing to look beneath the surface, however polished or rough they may be. However awkward they may appear in whatever form. Even if they’ve hurt you in the past.It takes such a tiny bit of love to change someone’s world and unlock the key to themselves. We keep holding onto expectations and fear.
Expectations ruin relationships and moments quicker than any other thing. When you expect something, or promise things too soon, suspicion, fear, anger, hurt all creep into our feelings of boundless love. Want to know the top reason for divorce & war? Broken uncommunicated expectations.
Yet we continue to be bogged down with fear that opening up our hearts leaves us too vulnerable. That asking for what we need will backfire and leave us with a gaping hole that’s too deep to ever be filled in again.
How strangely paradoxical that in protecting our hearts we deny the very thing we’re searching so desperately for from our fellow human beings: acceptance, love, joy. If we release the expectation that saying, “I love you” means that you’ll hear it back…that saying, “I think you are a gorgeous human being, and sexy as all get out” means that that person just wants to satisfy their own physical need…if we release the expectation that we’re with someone forever, if we release the deep seated need to OWN, to possess, to control, if we release the expectation that we need to share our bodies with others to be beautiful (girls who have been traumatized, I’m looking at you in particular due to cultural messages)..
If we release all expectations of others, and accept their joy and truth as it comes, and are comfortable giving space when needed, comfortable and trusting in our OWN instincts, what sheer magic would happen in the world? How powerful would YOU be if you accepted yourself as glorious and unlimited?
Feel free to share in the comments below ways to accept yourself or someone else fully.