Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Need to be Heard

I had not yet completed my on-line course with Brené Brown when I found myself acting more courageously than I have in a very long time.

Life handed me the greatest "Living Brave" graduation gift. I don't know if it would have happened on its own or if came from a deep desire to "write my own ending" but I did it. I walked into the arena where I fought the battle that brought me to my knees and I "lost". That was almost five years ago and the scar tissue still stung every time I walked by that battleground.

I walked into that building with the intent of talking to the people who made a positive impact while I was working there. Their office was closed and the building was almost vacant because everyone was in meetings and they were basically closed for business. The only staff member I saw was working in the office that "almost did me in".

I bravely walked through that door, with the intent of asking her to pass along my thanks to the department which made a lasting impression on me and helped me know which way to turn when the events in my life headed me down a path where I needed to turn to that very department in another location.

What happened instead was a conversation about my experience working in "that office". She asked the questions. I just answered them. I was careful with my words and summarized my story in three sentences. She knew everything I wasn't saying and she validated that others have walked my path and she was walking it at that very moment. That validation, the knowing eyes and her statement that a lot of good people have left because of a situation she has been trying to fight (but not succeeding) gave me all I needed to write my new ending. I had already "written" it in my mind before I walked through that door but there was more truth to it after facing my fears, walking through that door and having that conversation.

I had taken all I could learn from this past experience and moved on. But the way I felt each and every time I walked by this place of business told me my work here was not done. Not the way my heart lurched, my breath became shallow and I could feel the angst I felt while I was employed there.

I took this lesson and wrote about it within my "Living Brave" course. I wrote a new ending, as Brené puts it. I didn't spin a tale, I just made it more about the fact that this workplace would have dragged me under and took me down if I would have stayed. And I would have stayed if that had been an option. But it wasn't. Thank goodness!

As I wrote my new ending and focused on the fact that I needed to be removed from the line of fire, I reheard the actual conversation that took place when I was asked to "resign from this position". I was told this was the best move for me. Perhaps not in the words I needed to hear but I don't think I heard anything beyond "You will not pass your probation if you stay". "I failed. I was terrible. This was unjust. I wasn't given a fair chance! I FAILED!!", was all I heard as I rewound the tape and recalled the anxiety I lived during that time.

This was almost five years ago. Five YEARS. And I hadn't completely let go of the emotion. Even though I knew better. Even though I talked my way through, out and beyond this. Even though my head knew better, my heart started beating to the beat of anxiousness each and every time I walked past this building

Then I walked back in. Someone asked me to tell them my story. They asked! My story has been told. My words have been released at the scene of the crime and no one went down.

Sometimes that is all we really need. To be heard. To be validated. We cannot always return to the the place where our lives were broken, but when we can and when we can put a voice to the wounds of our past, it is life affirming.

"Yes, that was harsh and unfair. I hear you." This conversation changed my heart. I believe the scar tissue can begin to heal now.

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