The Transformative Power of Telling the Truth.
Have you ever felt your heart speak a truth you hadn’t known you felt? A realization that stopped you in your tracks? A friend leaves her job to become a pastry chef, another opens her home to shelter dogs or begins a yoga practice, and somewhere in your chest a bell clangs and you hear your inner voice cry out, “Yes! I want to do that!”
It’s always a surprise, finding you have desires you didn’t know existed within you – or perhaps, forgotten you’d been suppressing. Life shouts so loudly at us that sometimes that little voice inside can be hard to hear. Until one day that bell clangs – or some asshole with a blog starts yelling at you about your grandmother’s china - and you realize you want more.
It Has to Get Worse Before it Gets Worse
If only claiming it were as simple.
There is a huge rush of euphoria that comes with recognizing your desire to say yes to your own happiness. But it has been my experience that an inevitable result of discovering and honoring the realizations of your heart is that the places where you are holding back are now going to become very visible to you. Whispers of intuition will become shouts. Pain that was once tolerable becomes agony. In short, everything you have stuffed deep in your emotional closet is now going to fall down on your head.
I’m sorry. I said this was going to be fun.
Sometimes saying yes to happiness really is as simple as uncovering buried aspirations, or using the good dishes, or painting your nails bright red. But what happens when that isn’t enough? What if living your best life is more complicated? What if it requires you to confront the patterns or relationships that aren’t serving you? Or change the circumstances that are causing you to shrink instead of grow? Realizations like this are what we in marketing call, “disruptors.” And I think I speak for all of us when I say that, with the possible exception of Uber, disruptors really fucking suck.
The Dark Age that Precedes the Renaissance
In describing this crisis and reinvention that so many women experience in middle age (I loathe the term “middle age”; what if we call it the peak of freshness? The ripening? I need help) Brene Brown referred to it as “the Midlife Renaissance”, a phrase that so delighted me that I immediately texted every woman I know, “IS THIS A THING LET’S START A CLUB CAN WE GET JACKETS?”
But just as in world history, this renaissance cannot exist without a dark age. And it seems to me that for most of us, our dark age begins with the denial of our truth.
I spent the better part of 2019 knowing things that I was trying not to know; the first person you hide the truth from is nearly always yourself.
However, as most of us have learned the hard way, you can only suppress a truth for so long. The realization always comes. Take it from me, no matter how hard you try to deny it, the truth will find a way out, and its escape is almost never pleasant. Painful truths are not gentle or polite. If you do not open the door, they will blow out your goddamn windows.
I carried my truth like a live grenade. I was terrified to tell it, but I couldn’t put it down, and I couldn’t get rid of it. Instead I held it as carefully and silently as I could, until one day, I could not carry it anymore.
And thus my windows were blown out.
And thus my rebuilding – my renaissance - began.
Open the Door
For anyone that has ever been involved in a renovation, I am currently at that stage where somehow everything looks worse than it did before you began and there’s a toilet in the living room and everything is covered with dust and you’re questioning whether this project will ever be completed and why in the hell you ever started it to begin with.
Trust me when I say, whether it’s the new kitchen or the new life, it is worth it. Because the alternative to truth is shame. It is pain. Where we deny the truth, we grow small; or worse - we grow bitter. I’ll quote yet another great woman here, the immortal Maya Angelou, who said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
If you can’t trust me, trust Maya. The pain isn’t in the telling; the pain is in the carrying.
In the past month I have said things I had been terrified say out loud and I am still standing; I am still here. I said things I thought would cause destruction but ultimately they are making my life better. It wasn’t easy, and I won’t say it didn’t hurt, but I am okay.
You will be too.
Use the Good Dishes is all about feeling vibrantly and joyfully alive, and sometimes that means doing hard things, because on the other side of those hard things there is peace and freedom.
If you are living with a painful truth you don’t know how to speak, I am with you. You are not alone.
If you are facing fear or uncertainty, know that somewhere there is a path already lined up for you.
If you have been waiting for a sign, this is it.
If you are confused and don’t know what to do, the truth is always a good place to start.
My brave friend, you can do hard things.
It isn’t without risk. If you think speaking your truth will unravel your life, it might. In fact, it probably will. It will also help you build a new one. As they say, “The truth shall set you free - but first it will really piss you off.”
Saying the words that were weighing on my heart felt impossible until I was forced to say them. Now what I feel is hope and relief. My wish in writing this post is that my words – or for those who know me in the real world, my presence and my friendship – will create a safe space for you to tell yours.
Tell someone you love them. Tell someone that you don’t. Admit what isn’t working. Speak up if you need help. Speak up if you know someone else is drowning, even if you don’t know how to help. Make a change even if you’re afraid of the disruption it will bring or the pain it may cause. Because you only have this one life.
Just the one.
And you are worth it. Your happiness matters; you matter. Whatever your flaws, whatever your fears, you’re enough right here and now, and you deserve to be happy.
So do I. And I’m working my happiness every single day.
So thank you to everyone who is on this journey with me, and to everyone who is reading and cheering along. I believe in you. I am rooting for you.
We are totally getting jackets.