I was listening to a TED talk one morning by Brenè Brown.
This is the second talk of Brenè’s that I have listened to. The first one, a few years back, was about shame, guilt, and vulnerability.
What seems like a decade ago; prior to fire, cancer, and accidents (not in that order), I had read her book The Gifts of Imperfection as well. I was made aware of Brenè by my daughter, at that time working at the GAP corporate office in San Francisco.
GAP had invited Brenè to speak, and my daughter couldn’t say enough about what she came away with, in life wisdom.
My brain was going in multiple
directions as I listened to the podcast, and I knew I had to get my fingers on the keys to work this
out in my brain.
As a society our culture has eliminated feeling from many things.
Partnerships, Parenting, Pains.
Honestly? We are a people who are wired with
emotion. Why can’t we allow that?
Is being honest with our emotions too dangerous? Or are we
bottling our emotions so much that it causes eruptions that would have
been little fizzy pops before, and now are explosive bombs. Shame,
humility, hurt….all unseen combustibles that rise up in different
fashions. Making our ‘dis-ease’ worse. I believe that is what makes us as people – ill.
Have you ever looked in the thesaurus for the word “ill”. Wow!
There are a lot of ladder rungs in this country. Preconceived rungs to failures and successes.
Men live in a world of being
all present, financial providers, fixers of anything, by our side in
thick and thin, shoring us up when we are hurting, always willing to
help find the answers….all rungs in the ladder of life.
Women also live in a world with rungs..being Super mom, the problem solver, the shoulder to cry on, the person who glues the pieces together in a home, working, shuttling, loving, being present, the supposed knower of all, organizing, productive, and yes, financial provider. Always. Being.
But what if you can’t? – If
you miss the rung, if you stumble, if you fall.
If you fail, society sends the answers…we are insensitive, lazy, stupid, or worthless.
All of these experiences accumulate and become part of our life. Affecting us in ways we can not imagine.
I realized after listening to Brenè’s talk, that vulnerability is also in a new arena.
I never in my wildest dreams put vulnerability and shame into this ring….the cancer ring.
But it is there! Donning a red cape and spears. Daring us. Scrutinizing us.
We (those who have/had cancer) are the bull in a ring. Stabbed and in pain, we take it on and fight. Ahh the term “fight”.
“Oh, I hear you are fighting cancer.”
It is hard to stand in this vortex and understand it all. However, I think we need to pause here and listen.
When told you have cancer, (I will interject my own thoughts here…) we have this feeling that we are being told we failed at something. Should we have done something differently? We should have seen the signs. We must have ignored the symptoms. Did we take good
enough care of ourselves. Did the stress in our lives eek out into our
cells and cause us this ‘dis-ease’?
As we fight…we wonder: Are we trying hard enough? Maybe we should be more aggressive. We should eat better. Do we need to see another doctor? That list is endless!
The fight. It is a battle after all. And all battles have winners and losers.
There it is. The vulnerability. The shame. It has been there all along. You just didn’t see it.
“She put up a good fight.” “He fought the battle for years.” ….”She lost the battle.”
This is painful to write, however it must be put out in the open. Cancer is a devastating disease. And how we treat and are treated by all involved is a conversation that needs to be addressed. By everyone. This is not a battle that is fought. It is a life event that is frightening, sad, emotionally charged, and needs lots and lots of love and understanding. Be present.
We are all vulnerable.