Tag Archives: vulnerable

#TruthTellers

Why are we so afraid to tell the truth? Isn’t honesty the key to any successful relationship? It doesn’t have to be romantic relationships, it can be relationships with friends and family members. Instead of being honest, we tend to tell “white lies” and justify them by convincing ourselves we were just looking out for those around us. Half of the time we don’t see white lies as lies at all, so the conscious backlash we feel towards ourselves is minimal at best. Maybe we even start to be honest with those closest to us, but never really give the whole story, out of shame or fear. Again, there’s less guilt attached to this because technically we didn’t lie, we just didn’t tell the whole truth.

But what good does lying or covering up some part of the truth do for us? Trust me, I used to be (or at least I like to think I was) an expert half-ass truth teller. In the moment where your kind of lying but not technically lying, it may seem worth it to keep that arms-length distance. Nobody gets hurt, and your real pain, the shame or the guilt is still protected in this nice little cocoon of deception. Do you want to know what I believe is the number one reason for why we lie to those around us when we’re walking through some hard situations? Ok even if you don’t want to know, you’re here reading this so there’s a 99.99% chance you’re going to hear it anyways.

We don’t want to be vulnerable

That’s really all there is to it. I remember when I was in the depth of my eating disorder and self-injury I would half-ass the truth constantly. Someone would ask me if I was eating (because apparently I was looking like I was losing weight fast, even though I couldn’t see it through the funhouse mirrors that were my eyes), I wouldn’t lie but I wouldn’t tell the entire truth either. I’d tell them “of course I’m eating! I’m just watching what I eat and working out more”. The truth is, what I was eating was more like what I wasn’t eating. I was also working out so that wasn’t a lie either, but the amount I worked out was enough to cancel out the miniscule number of calories I consumed that day. I felt this strange ownership over all of this too; it was mine to have and I’d be damned if someone wanted to take it away from me. To put it simply, it became my entire identity. I was no longer a daughter, a student or a friend; all I was, was that number on the scale that was always too high and the number of calculated calories I consumed and then disposed of. So when I got asked about it, I didn’t want to be vulnerable so I hid behind deception and half-assed truth.

Sooner or later, however, I did start telling the truth and boy was it painful. But I didn’t start being a truth teller until I was on the other side of those things. The “shame about the pain” was too great for me to face when I was plummeting towards rock bottom. I remember the first time I was able to tell the truth and be vulnerable, I was in a room with a bunch of people who were broken just like I was, and man did it suck. The ironic thing is, I had been in therapy for a couple of years before all of this too, but I never once told the honest to god truth. I was 23 and in a residential treatment center, and then again at 24 in an outpatient treatment center (which sucked so much worse than residential! I actually had to deal with real life… ew). Truth telling felt fake at first, because I realized that even I was starting to believe my own crap. The sick part of my mind made up the lies to begin with, but soon they became who I was in a way. But when you’re in a room of broken people who are just like you when you’re being honest and vulnerable, you get a lot of head shakes and “me too” as feedback.

Yet truth telling in treatment is so much different than truth telling when you’re placed back in your life. Like I said, I didn’t start really telling the truth to my family and friends until I was certain I was on the other side of most of my crap. I was ashamed if I was struggling and I was “just wanting to protect them” (another lie my lovely sick mind created). There’s a phrase one of my therapists in outpatient always used to tell us; she’d say that sometimes we just need to sit in it (the “it” being the discomfort and everything else we were avoiding by using our eating disorder). Well, I didn’t want to sit in it, because sitting in it requires facing life and feeling vulnerable. So instead of sitting in it, I’d lie and tell people the half-ass truth so I could continue using the one coping mechanism I found to be most successful in avoiding vulnerability. Yet I realized that not telling the truth to those people in my life when I really should be not only hurts me, but it hurts them as well. I like to think of keeping up those walls and giving the half-assed truth as a nonverbal middle-finger.

A lot of it too has to do with how we feel society wants us to be. Go on Facebook or Instagram and people have their lives displayed like it’s a freakin’ Hallmark movie where everything is just peachy. I’m pretty sure we all know that that is a load of B.S, but that’s how we feel like we should act and portray ourselves even offline. Everyone has their crap, but we put our stage lives out there to hide the behind the curtain reality of what’s really going on with us. We get this feeling that people don’t want to hear about our struggles so we bottle it up and say nothing, only revealing the scars after the wounds have healed. Is that fair to those who love us unconditionally? Nope. Is it fair to us, who deserve to be loved unconditionally, supported and valued for being who we are? Nope. So here’s what I’m learning lately:

  • Being vulnerable sucks
  • Hiding behind shame and fear is easy
  • Being a truth teller is hard
  • Covering up the truth with lies is easy
  • Shame only amplifies the pain
  • People closest to you in your life won’t judge you for being honest, and if they do they’re not the people you need walking the path with you
  • It’s better to be vulnerable with others when you’re going through hell than to be vulnerable alone

A Simple Thank You

I’m trying a new thing this year and that’s to be more thankful for the people I have in my life. A lot of the ones I considered family in every sense of the word didn’t make it to 2015 to celebrate the new life I’m trying to have. A life of recovery, motivation in school, determination and hope. I’ve heard it said before that when God closes one door another one opens, and I’m finding that to be true the more I continue living this new life of mine.

Things really suck sometimes, and when I have bad days it’s easier for me to stay in bed than get up and seize the day, but I try my hardest to not let my demons and inner pain win. Some days I fall and others I thrive; it’s all part of not only the recovery process but of life in general. I believe the bad days show who my true friends are; it’s in those bad days, the moments of pure raw emotion and vulnerability that I catch a glimpse into the love I really have for others and they have for me.

So this is to them, the friends who are family and friends who I am growing and recovering with every day. Thank you.

M&T,

Thank you for not letting my issues get in between us and for sticking it out. I don’t think you’ll ever really know how much your letters to me when I was in treatment meant to me. I’d read the words written on paper from you guys and I could hear your voices. I could picture us having that conversation face to face, laughing and making inappropriate jokes the entire time. Thank you for the slight intervening conversation about how I was getting sick and you were scared for me. I know at the time I might have laughed it off, but I was just as scared as you guys. I didn’t know if going away would be the end of our friendship, but you proved your unconditional love and support for me even though you didn’t have to. A lifetime of love, trust and loyalty was built up again in just one month. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Who would have thought those small moments we shared together would turn into the bonds that held us together? Certainly not me. I think us knowing each other for so long, in a way we were destined to be best friends. You guys know almost everything about me, and didn’t push me away when I was at my lowest; you supported me and encouraged me, and it is honestly something I wasn’t expecting.

Through all the fights, the distance or whatever life had for us, it never got in between our friendship. If we go a while without seeing each other, we pick right back up where we left off. At the end of the night when we go our separate ways I feel lighter somehow. You guys give me a light, and all it takes is a simple friendship and now that I am more in my life than ever, I am excited to see all life has for us in this new chapter. By just being you, as fucking crazy and hysterical as you guys are, I found who I am becoming; I found that I am accepted and loved just the way I am. This bumpy ass road known as recovery is a bitch, but the fact that you two are strapped in the passenger seat with your hands on the dashboard and bracing yourself for each bump and roadblock makes you two fucking rockstars!

I am eternally grateful for you two and love you beyond words

 

To the friends I’ve met along the way,

I never in a million years would have thought I’d meet some of the best people I could have asked for in my life in a treatment program. We have seen each other at our best and at our ugliest. I’ve seen all of you vulnerable, and you have seen me at my weakest as well. Starting the journey of recovery I wasn’t sure I would be alright. I wasn’t expecting to meet people like you; people so genuine, honest, loving, selfless and open. I never had friends who knew what I was experiencing and were also fighting like hell for their lives to be better. My friends from residential didn’t last, and that sting carried over into outpatient. But you guys, you guys are different.

The time we spend hanging out and going out to dinner means the world to me. How we can laugh and be normal young adults without the hinderance of our being sick getting in the way. I appreciate how much you encourage me to stay strong even though I am not sure if you even realize it or not. It’s astonishing how whenever we need each other we’re all only a text or phone call away. The universality and empathy helps in times of crisis. I wasn’t the best person to get to know when I first met you all, shit I don’t think any of us were at that time; but as days turned into months and we shared more pain and laughs and vulnerability in the four walls of that group room, we all changed. I don’t know if I ever say it, but the fact that our bond and trust of one another can carry over into the real world is incredible.

I’m pulling for you guys to get better, to kick this eating disorders ass, to be fully in your life and to be happy because out of everyone I’ve ever met you all deserve the fucking world. All of the shit you’ve been through, all of the pain and brokenness you’ve experienced breaks my heart to think about. I can’t imagine where I’d be at not only in recovery but in life if I haven’t met you.

 

I am eternally grateful for you all,


Jess