Ultimately, all I want from the people in my life is to be told the truth. Not their version of the truth; not what they think I want to hear; the actual truth. Once I have the facts in front of me, I can decide how I feel about those facts. From my earliest childhood memories, I have been a truth seeker and I’m pretty sure I will never stop seeking the truth.
An easy example was instinctively knowing the man I was led to believe was my father actually wasn’t. After confronting him and my mother (at eleven years old) the two of them concocted an elaborate lie to explain why my birth certificate said “father unknown”. I’d heard the name George many times up until that point, and was convinced this George character was my biological father. Essentially I was laughed at, ridiculed and told I was being a silly kid. Four years later, a slap round the face from “daddy” would become the catalyst for me leaving home. Later that day, my emotional mother told me the full story. Which lo and behold involved a man called George.
Looking back, this was my first lesson in trusting my gut. Not that I realised any of it at the time, I was far too busy living in survival mode.
Being a truth seeker means looking in the mirror
Fast forward twenty five years and I still seek the truth at every opportunity. Which is far from the easiest way to conduct life – in reality it’s often lonely and tiresome. Most people I know are deeply entrenched in the much talked about midlife crisis. So bogged with their own quagmire – whatever that might look like – they simply don’t have the capacity to deal with anything outside of it.
I know the feeling of drowning in my own shit only too well. It’s no exaggeration to say I spent the years 2015-2017 teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Daily life consisted of putting out mummy fires and swimming against the tide. Fully immersing myself in my family didn’t appeal. I was too angry at the hand I had been dealt and it was much more convenient to blame my circumstances and drown my sorrows than the alternative. Getting sober and totally accepting the buck stops with me did not come easily or naturally.
Being a grown up is fucking hard, no doubt about it. Wading through the never ending fake news and polarising rhetorical statements in our “post-truth era” certainly doesn’t help. Here’s the thing though. We can blame our shitty past, challenging present and lack of future prospects all we want. But when push comes to shove, we have to own our stories.
On vulnerability and courage
I’m starting to see that my willingness to open myself up to vulnerability is one of my biggest strengths. Genuinely, I couldn’t care less what others think about me and I never blindly follow the crowd. What I used to curse myself for being an emotional wreck about, I now see is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s led me to exactly the headspace I need to be in. So I can take care of my kids to the highest standard I’m capable of. When people talk about living their best lives, it’s often in a material way. It correlates with going on holidays and having extravagant experiences. Living my best life means being truly present for my people.
The original definition of the word courage is: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Continuing to get back up after being knocked down, in the face of adversity, is a theme I am no stranger to. Staying down can feel a lot more appealing than getting the hell up over-and-over again. But that requires a certain amount of vulnerability. Being able to admit that we’re a work in progress; that our beliefs aren’t fixed and we’re comfortable with changing our minds. Once we start to see failures as life lessons, they aren’t failures anymore. I’m more convinced than ever that getting back up and trying again is the only way we truly learn life lessons.
For me, the time for crossing fingers and hoping things work out has passed. Now I am officially in my forties, this next chapter is all about fully taking control and owning my destiny. No more excuses. I’ll be taking responsibility when things go wrong. I won’t allow being afraid of failing stop me from doing anything new. Above all else, I’ll be teaching my kids that it’s ok to fuck up. Because we’re not robots, we’re human, and humans make mistakes.
I point blank refuse to have regrets.
The toxic trio of anger, blame and shame
Taking a long, hard look at the way I’ve conducted myself over the last few years has been very insightful. At the time I was doing my best, but I can see there was a lot of the old, self-destructive – pre-mum – me kicking around. Trying to hog the limelight, and pave the way, were the crippling combination of anger, blame and shame. I can see now there is no place for them in my life if I want to truly move forward.
Truth seeking is addictive. It’s all too easy to fall down rabbit holes. Be it the latest political circus; the climate crisis; the food I eat or choosing to home educate. If I know I could do better, then I will find a way to. This isn’t about me beating myself up or being too hard on myself. And it’s certainly not about perfectionism – I’ve written many times about that particular beast and how it has no place on my journey. This is about staring the truth in the face without being overcome with shame. Without allowing those little demons to creep back up and tell me I’m not good enough.
Needless to say this process is messy and uncomfortable and scaryAF. But I will absolutely NOT spend my 40’s stuck in a perpetual state of wistfully glancing back and nervously looking forward. Being a truth seeker means embracing the now. And you know what? It’s a pretty damn good view.
Do yourself a favour and put 20 minutes aside to watch this TED talk with the absolutely awesome Brené Brown. You will not regret it!