I’m taking an online course through Udemy called “The Power of Vulnerability” which is led by the beautiful Dr. Brene Brown. The course calls for reflection and study after each lecture on a variety of topics that will help explore and hopefully aid in reaching a level of comfort with the vulnerability that I feel in my life. I felt that this was a good place to keep track of these reflections and thoughts, and perhaps, help anyone else who happens upon these pages along the way.
In the first lecture, Brene talks about how we live in a society of scarcity. Many of us go through life wanting more, and not feeling like we’re enough. She talks about after 9/11, as a people, we developed a great fear. We became fearful of everything, not just the possibility of another terrorist attack, but of things inside our head; not being popular enough, not being seen enough, not mattering enough, not standing out enough, not accomplishing enough. Basically, living in scarcity. Seeing the half-empty side of things as opposed to the half-full. We also, as a whole, are not engaged or present in our moment. We live outside of the present; reaching out for the next moment.
Here are the notes/questions about this first lecture:
In my research, I found that the three elements that always exist in scarcity-bound cultures are shame (“I’m never good enough”), comparison (“How do I measure up?”), and disengagement (“I can’t care too much or I’ll get hurt”).
- What are the experiences, places, or situations in which these elements come together and create scarcity for you? For example, I’ll share one of my areas with you: . . . writing. It’s one place where the shame gremlins are the loudest. I’m constantly comparing myself to other writers, and I try pretending that I don’t care when I really do.
- What are the “arenas” in your life—the places, experiences, or events—that you’d like to walk into with courage? Where would you like to braver?
The answer to the first question is very easy for me to answer. The place where all of these elements of lack of adequacy and success come with my failure as a mother. My failure to have created and retained relationships with my children. I’ve written about this fairly extensively in the past, and I don’t want to re-examine every turn of the story, but in a nutshell I feel a pressing load of shame and failure. I cannot look at another mother/child/ren combination without feeling huge pangs of jealousy, although I admit that every single instance of jealousy is quickly replaced with feelings of warmth and love towards the objects of my attention. It’s actually at those moments, when I see myself in those mothers; saying and doing the same things that I did with my own children and realizing that the choices that my adult children are making are theirs, and not mine. Those particular thoughts tend to be fleeting though, and I quickly fall back into my well of shame. I compare myself endlessly to other mothers, and while rationally, I know that I was as good a mother as any, my irrational mind takes over and I am crushed all over again.
That is the area of my life that I’d like to walk into with courage. I no longer pine for my sons to come back into my life. I realize that they are now strangers to me. Complete strangers, and while we share the same blood, and we come from the same place, I have changed and so have they. I am no longer the same woman they knew as a mother, and they are no longer the boys I gave birth to. While I migrated from a time of complete darkness and chaos into a life of light and peace, they both have settled into being dark and angry and frankly, hateful people. THAT right there is another source of shame. Coming to grips with thinking of my sons as anything other than the sweet, loving, caring boys I once knew to who they are today. I would not choose either one of them as friends, or as people I’d have in my life. They things they have said to me, the acts they have committed, are those of beings who not only don’t care for me, but hate me.
I’d like to walk with courage into a place where I am ‘ok’ with no longer identifying as a ‘mother’. Where I don’t feel shame at being ‘child-less’, where I don’t judge myself for the actions of my past. Where I can see myself completely only for who I am today.