I don’t remember ever being a fearful person. I actually remember trusting, a lot. I trusted friends, family, lovers, strangers, and mother nature. Then I became pregnant and trusted my way through pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Fear crept in often, as I was growing and protecting another life, but I always slipped out of fear eventually. But then something shifted as I entered motherhood. All of the sudden my heart was living and beating outside of my body, in front of my eyes. Often, I would drop into fear. “What if something happens?” was constantly controlling my life. I no longer trusted right away. I guarded my self and my daughter whenever I felt vulnerable. It is as if I built a shield in front of my heart, and hers. Then, tragedies began to rapidly present themselves. Even if you don’t watch the news, there were ways to find out without even trying. You couldn’t hide from it if you tried. Fear was and is everywhere. There are news anchors, journalists, coworkers, family members, etc. who are constantly reminding us to be afraid of something. To stay afraid. To live in fear. This past week, I have slipped deeply into fearful living. I have cried EVERY time I’ve been apart from my child. I have checked in incessantly with my babysitter. I have cried singing and listening to music. I have envisioned ‘worst-case-scenarios’ everywhere I have gone. I even installed a deadbolt lock on my front door. I slipped into fear and have had an extremely hard time picking myself back up.
I recently finished Brené Browns’ newest book: Braving the Wilderness. It is about how humans long for a true belonging which in short requires you to be exactly who you are. She uses the term “foreboding joy” that really hit home with me, especially this week after receiving tragic news. She says that it is human nature, especially as parents, to think of the worst-case-scenarios when we are away from our children. For example, if you are a single parent and have a night off, you should be able to enjoy your alone time and the joy that comes with recharging. Foreboding joy in that scenario would mean you worry about your child the entire time because you don’t feel like you deserve to be joyful by yourself. We do this ALL of the time. I do this ALL of the time. I deny myself peace because there is and always will be some type of suffering in the world. She says that the only way to combat foreboding joy is: Gratitude. Practicing gratitude. Spreading gratitude. Teaching gratitude. A grateful heart is a grateful life. She closes her book with a quote that I will forever remember: “I am aware of what’s happening, the part I play, and I can make it better, and that doesn’t mean I have to deny the joy in my life.”
Joy requires vulnerability. Vulnerability requires bravery; It requires courage. It requires you to be exactly who you are. Fear separates us from being vulnerable. “When we let people take our vulnerability or fill us with their hate, we turn over our entire life to them.” So today, I was vulnerable. I cried in front of twenty-two yoga students. I shared my fears. I put my shield down and softened my heart. I trusted my community. I let them hold me. I felt a deep belonging and I think I may understand what ‘Braving the Wilderness’ is all about.
Allow yourself joy. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow your community and loved ones to hold you close. Keep stepping forward.