Leap from the nest
The other day I tested out my wings of authenticity. I’ve done it before – even done it recently, but this time was different; this time I was authentic even while all of me was screaming that a leap from this height might hurt really badly.
I recently worked to please a friend of mine. That seems harmless enough, but when he asked me to help him, I knew walking into it, that I didn’t want to AND that I would resent him for it later.
I did it anyway.
In that moment, telling him ‘no’ was too difficult for me; telling him ‘no’ would have risked our entire friendship (absolutely preposterous when I put it to a logic or rationality test, but in that moment, I was incapable of seeing that). I felt like saying ‘no would have disappointed him so righteously that perhaps I wouldn’t deserve his love anymore.
The weight of the burden
So I had agreed to help this friend and … true to form, I resented it.
I was sure that when he asked me for help that the request was his sole reason for calling. That he needed my help and nothing else. That the favor he needed was actually all that he found valuable about me. And I was indignant over the whole thing. I avoided him over the next series of days – my inner doubting self wanted to RUN!
If I’m being honest with myself, I was also deathly afraid that those things were true. That I actually loved and valued him for all that he is but that he only valued what I could do for him. I was afraid that he was using me and that he didn’t really love me.
Self-sabotage at its finest
I ran down a rabbit hole of self talk that felt similar to climbing into a mine cart and letting it roll into the pitch black abyss, brakeless, careening to one side and then the other, threatening to dump me into the world of “Your parents were right all along, you will never measure up despite your best efforts.”
- I rebuked him: “I don’t care about him. Fuck him and his opinion. That’s the last favor he gets from me.”
- I rebuked myself: “Why didn’t you have the courage to be authentic. You’ve been reading all these books and have made a conscious decision to live a wholehearted life (as Brene Brown says in her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’), so why the hell can’t you live it when push comes to shove?”
- I refuted both arguments and tried to rationalize it: “You’re being melodramatic. It was a simple favor. You let that inner voice of insecurity have too much power. It’s the way of life, people are mostly symbiotic in nature – we use each other. Get over yourself.”
The feelings persisted.
He touched base a few days later and at first I stared at his text, angry that he’d come back so soon – mostly because it meant I’d have to face my own fears and make a decision one way or another.
I let it sit for a while – maybe half an hour or more. Each second I struggled with the very same self-sabotaging process: rebuke him, rebuke me, rationalize. None of it worked.
I answered him, but in a trite, cordial way and we exchanged a few messages. The more we talked, the more I wanted to run – away from him, away from the relationship, away from the connection. I didn’t want to risk vulnerability, but I wouldn’t get over the resentment if I didn’t.
No vulnerability basically would mean: no friendship.
…to be vulnerable
Finally, I said it “I was uncomfortable doing that favor for you. I didn’t want to do it and I should have had the courage to be authentic with you about it.” Just saying it felt amazing – liberating, freeing. My heart danced (though much of that was a deathly fear of his rejection and/or abandonment). Still … I had done it.
In the milliseconds after it was out, my stomach dropped and I definitely felt the fear that I wrote about the other day in “Awakening.” Even now, writing about it a couple of days later, I still feel that same fear – my eyes once again sting with the possibility of rejection, my heart quickens, the anxiety is visceral – even though I already know how it played out.
Authenticity begets authenticity
He was supportive, apologetic, open and communicative. I felt sheepish for having made a big deal of it, yet he reassured me and was warm and gentle.
Definitely worth the jump without a net
Our friendship is, as ever, strong and warm and … authentic. My fears were unfounded – but I never would have been assured of that if I had not made the leap and chosen to be vulnerable with him.
The rewards of authenticity? WAY cooler than the rewards of holing up in my fortress!
After all, a jump from the nest is the only way a fledgling learns to fly.