Facebook memories just told me I posted this quote seven years ago today. I remember transcribing it from Brené Brown's TED Talk on YouTube into my journal. Pausing, rewinding, listening again, making sure I wrote down every word. I also remember wanting desperately to believe I was enough so I could stop screaming, start listening, and be kinder and gentler to myself.
"Can we let ourselves be seen, deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. Love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee. Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when you're wondering, 'Can I love you that much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?' Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, 'I'm just so grateful. Because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive.'
And the last, which is the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place that says, 'I believe I'm enough,' then we stop screaming and start listening. We're kinder and gentler to those around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves."
-Brené Brown, 'The Power of Vulnerability'
Seven years later and I’m still a work in progress (aren’t we all). But I will say this: these days, when I start to lose faith in myself, I may scream for a few minutes but then I know I have a choice - to put up walls; to turn away and run from the discomfort of letting myself be truly seen and hide from the depths of the exquisite pain and beauty of being human - or I can let myself feel it all, even when it hurts; even when it’s terrifying to believe in something so passionately or love someone so completely or fight for something so fiercely.
To feel this vulnerable means I'm alive. To be alive means I have purpose. Do you ever think about your purpose? I do. I think about it a lot because one day I'm not going to be alive anymore and all that will be left are stories about the legacy I leave behind.
Last night, sitting on the couch, I think of something funny. I reach for my phone to text my friend who is not alive anymore. For just a sliver of a moment, I forget he no longer exists in human form. When I remember he's gone, it hurts, physically - like being sucker-punched hard and fast in my gut. Suddenly overwhelmed with the pain and discomfort of profound loss, I feel myself start to shut down. I close my eyes and take a deep breath; steer toward the pain. It's sharp and hot, in my low belly. I feel the heat rise up under my ribcage, then into my chest, then the space behind my heart. I watch as it morphs into muscle tension, a lump in my throat. I keep breathing, keep feeling. I remember: I'm alive.
I have the conversation with my friend in my head. I smile, let a few tears fall softly.
Pain is delicate. It has depth. Pain and joy are polarizing, but something I've learned over these years of studying yoga is that we need opposition. Opposing forces can create balance. We need steadiness and ease. Fire to transform, water to stay in the flow. The more we root down, the higher we rise up. If you want to feel the elation of the purest forms of love, you have to be willing to dive into the depths of your pain.
To feel vulnerable means you're alive. To be alive means you have purpose.
Keep breathing. Keep feeling.