My core being is telling me that just because I’m writing this, I’m automatically jinxing something in my life. I’ve always been a bit superstitious, so what I’m about to say goes against my belief of things like reverse psychology-ing the crap out of things I do/do not want to happen or knocking on wood to prevent disaster (natch).
If I’m being honest…
I’m always scared something is going to go wrong.
I often feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I sometimes don’t let myself feel as happy as I could feel, because I’m playing defense—ready emotionally in case something veers off track. Protecting myself.
Recently, I flew to New York City for the This Is Motherhood book launch party and I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the trip. It was my first time leaving all three kids for the night—and my first time ever leaving my youngest, Natalie. And even though I would only be gone for about 24 hours, I was still worried about being away from them.
As I sat on the plane, my anxiety spiraled.
This plane may crash, and you may die because you wanted to go to this party. Because you wanted to do something for yourself. Why are you doing this?
I check on each of my children every night before I go to bed. I watch their chests rise and fall three times to make sure they’re breathing. I kiss them and ask our angels to watch over them. I worry that they may not always be tucked safely in their beds, right here with me.
Things seem okay right now. Everyone seems happy any healthy. When will one of us drop the ball?
Every time one of my babies have slept through the night for the first time, my mind does not immediately go to: HECK YEAH! Full night’s sleep, bitches! It goes to: OMG, I need to make sure they’re breathing. (Runs into their room to check them, inevitably waking them up before they were ready.)
I’ve had three healthy pregnancies and have given birth to three big, healthy babies. I have a husband who is my partner and best friend. So, I have it coming to me one day, right? I can’t be happy forever so why be REALLY happy right now? I’m not fully protecting myself and I need to be. I need to put my armor on. Right?
I have experienced pain and loss and disappointment for sure. Relationships have been fractured and have needed to be repaired. Or ditched. No area of my life is even close to being perfectly figured out. But, still, if I have all this good in my life—there inevitably will be bad, right
I recently listened to Dr. Brené Brown talking to Oprah on the episode “Part 1: Daring Greatly” of her Super Soul podcast and it was all about these things I’m talking about. I connected so deeply to it. Brené said, “Joy is the most terrifying emotion to experience,” essentially because we fear it will be taken away from us. She added, “When we lose our tolerance to be vulnerable, joy becomes foreboding. So what we do in moments of joyfulness is we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”
We can’t experience full joy because we fear it will leave us.
So, let me get this straight—joy is the goal, but we won’t let ourselves have it because one day it won’t be there. So we better not enjoy it while we have it, because what’s the point if it won’t last forever? What if we’re all joyful and the bad thing interrupts us yelling “GOT YA!”? What will we do?
I have a sneaky feeling that we will figure it out. No matter how bad, we will figure it out. Maybe the problem is that we’re not giving ourselves enough credit for how strong we are.
I also have a sneaky feeling that bad things are going to happen and good things are going to happen no matter what. We don’t have an specified allotment of good things that will happen to us or a certain quota of bad things that we need to meet in our lives.
We hope and pray and work toward the good, and we process and seek help and find support with the bad.
The thing I’m realizing is—I don’t want to beat vulnerability to the punch. Maybe I used to, sure, out of fear of embarrassment or hurt or regret or disappointment—but I don’t want to anymore. Another quote of (Queen) Brené’s that always sticks with me (yes I am a Brené Brown fan girl) is: “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”
That hits me right in my gut each time I read it, because, HELLO! That’s the TRUTH of life. If you’re not being vulnerable you’re not being authentic. If you’re not being authentic, you’re not being your real self.
I don’t want fake. I don’t have the time or desire for fake anymore. Or surface level. Or burying feelings. Or pretending things are fine when they’re not. Or pretending I’m someone I’m not.
The only way to know someone—really and truly—is to allow yourself to be vulnerable with them and to accept them in their own vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the source of intimacy, bravery, authenticity, trust, confidence. Things I want in my life. So I don’t want to skip that part. No matter how hard or awkward or uncomfortable it gets.
In this same episode, Brené says to try gratitude instead of the defense mechanism of not allowing yourself to experience joy in all it’s full and beautiful glory. I’ve tried it for the past week and I’ll tell ya what—it’s a small, but powerful shift.
Maybe if my worries could be replaced with gratitude I’ll have joy shooting out of my eyeballs.
We’ll see. 👀