This is a continuation of the blog post, Words Words Words Part 1.
Recap: If you didn't catch my last post, "Words Words Words Part 1" (click here to read), I spoke about how important it is to watch the words we speak and be careful to only speak life about ourselves. It was about not speaking our defeat before we've even given ourselves a chance at victory.
Why this is ridiculous coming from me: For those of you who bought the explicit version of my mixtape, you may be laughing right now because it has so much cursing and so many sad songs with LOTS of negative words. For the fans who joined my journey later on and have no idea what I'm talking about, I took out the cursing in my music (there was a lot) because I have a lot of younger kids listening now. However, you can still hear a lot of pain in my writing. For example, take my song, “Judge Me.” The chorus says “I hate you but I love you" and it says "I wish that you were dead.” Let’s be real guys. Thats super heavy.
First Point: There is a difference between speaking life and positivity over your situation and allowing yourself to be honest when you are in pain.
Have you ever had something horrible happen to you and your friend or family member (with good intentions) basically tells you to just "be positive"? And you are thankful they care but also sort of want to smack them?
I think as much as we want to help our friends that are in pain to see that it won't last forever or **insert cliche positive statement** sometimes it's much more powerful to just sit with them and allow them to go through their process. There are some wounds that words don't just magically fix. Sometimes the most you can do is just... sit. Be there. Say nothing. Just be there and cry with them. I can't tell you how many times I needed someone to just say "Yep. This really sucks. I love you and I'm so sorry you're dealing with this." That can be wayyyyyy more comforting then a bunch of half-hearted positive slogans to try to "encourage" you. Sometimes, the attempts at encouragement can even do the OPPOSITE. They can make you feel like you shouldn't be going through your emotions or the process of grief, when in reality, it's your souls way of healing you and it's totally healthy and normal.
Have you ever heard of Brene Brown? I call her my friend because she has helped me through so much but in real life she has no clue who I am (ha ha!). Anyway, if you’re not familiar with her GET FAMILIAR. She is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and she teaches how to best live a whole-hearted life. One of her key teachings is that if you are never brave enough to be vulnerable, you can never fully connect to the people around you, and that can keep you from living a whole-hearted life. She teaches that SHAME is what keeps us from sharing our truth with others, and she talks about how to conquer that shame in order to connect to life and others more fully. She has really helped me to be brave enough to live my most authentic life.
Before my mixtape, Burning In The Dark, I wrote 100% positive, encouraging, uplifting songs. The message was "you hurt me but I'm strong and resilient and I'll be fine because I'm superwoman." Which was amazing and wonderful. Except I wasn't fine. I was carrying wounds that were like oceans and covering them with scotch tape positivity.
It brought me no healing to pretend like everything was okay. I thought if I pretended long enough, it would go away. But it just got worse, and I got more depressed, and felt more misunderstood. I thought I could help other people be positive by feigning positivity but the truth was that I was just scotch-taping their wounds, too.
Brene taught me that sometimes the way you help people is by saying "me too." You're still suffering from a breakup that happened 5 years ago but are too ashamed to tell anyone? Me too. You've had horrible dark thoughts about it? Me too. Your family has endless issues? Me too. You're not actually fine from your parents divorce? Me too.
The power is in the "me too." Your not alone. I'm right there with you. You're not crazy. I get it.
"Me too" kills the shame and frees the soul.
Dark things die when they are brought into the light. Bad thoughts, pain, and shame die when you speak them out into the light. If you're to afraid to let them out and keep them shut up inside they just fester.
Fear holds us prisoner. Courage frees us to be vulnerable and heal.
Honest self-expression for the sake of honesty and healing is different than the positive words and affirmations we talked about in the first post. I would even argue it is healthy and good to allow your pain to be spoken out loud or expressed in art. If you don’t speak that stuff, it can just sit there in the muck and goo of your insides and cause all kind of problems. Many would argue that it can even cause physical sickness.
So here's how the story ends. I spoke out my mess. I was terrified. I was judged (not everyone deserves to share in your story so be choosy who you share with). But I was also met with people who said things like "I cried in my shower listening to Judge me on repeat and I healed from my breakup" or "I chose not to commit suicide because of Burning in The Dark" or even, "I knew I wasn't alone in my pain because of Crooked Love and that helped me survive." One of my favorites was "I stopped cutting because of your music."
I wanted to help people. And my fear was that my messy truth and vulnerability wouldn't help anyone, and that my scotch tape lie of corny positivity was going to help lots of people. But the truth was that my vulnerability healed people more than my scotch tape positivity ever could. And in return, I was also healed.
One of my favorite humans EVER, Rob Bell, explains the practice of prayer as this: speaking out everything going on inside your heart, the good, bad and ugly, and trusting that God/source/whateveryoucallGod loves you so much, and that in the end, that massive, whole, beautiful love swallows up the mess, clears out the shame, and heals us of our brokenness. And we move forward from our pain with greater depth and strength than we had before, a better understanding of love, more courage, more empathy, more compassion, and more freedom.
Selfish side note: I've wanted to say this for a long time because there were a lot of harsh people that just assumed I was a nice small-town-church-girl who moved to the big scary city of Los Angeles and went off the deep end because I swore in my songs and put out a half-naked video showing a broken love story about dating someone with a habit. And it really hurt me that some people were too shallow to see past my ass to see the depth and complexity and courage it took for me to tell my story. So to those of you who love and understand me and have given me grace to be honestly heard without judgement, thank you. And to those of you who don't, I would challenge you to share your truth. You may just find that you are able to hold more compassion for other peoples truth and more freedom for yourself.