I have too many words. All jumbled around in my head. I hear the advice from my mother ringing in my head… “Jenny! Keep your big mouth shut!” I can’t even tell you how often I heard that phrase growing up. I had a big mouth. I’d sit and talk about anything with anyone. I’d share my opinions, I’d ask all the questions. I was a talker. I’ve learned to keep things to myself over the years… I’ve also begun to struggle with suddenly being too quiet. And what a strange pendulum swing to find myself on. In the past couple of years, I’ve really been working on finding the right balance between the two. And although I, for the most part, do a fine enough job of it – there are also times when it feels like I fall flat on my face.
I had a moment like that yesterday. I knew I needed to say something… but I also knew it would be wise to be very careful with my words. As it was highly likely that I wouldn’t be able to clearly paint what I was trying to say with them. And if I somehow screwed up and my intentions were misunderstood, I’d be hurt and worried and unsure of the end consequences. I even tried to talk myself out of speaking up. “Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I’m being unreasonable? Maybe my thoughts aren’t quite complete enough to share yet! Maybe if I speak up – I’ll lose? Maybe if I share – I’ll have to face judgement or fear?” Again – my mom’s advice rang in my head.
And then the moment came… My words came vomiting out of my mouth before I could even stop them… despite all my practicing and planning and lecturing of myself prior. Even in the moment – I was yelling at myself in my head. “OMG Jen… What are you DOING?! You’re totally not making sense!! You’re confusing the situation and making it muddy! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP JEN!”
…. But I persisted. Man, i’m an idiot sometimes. I got so worked up that my tears began to flow. And the words became more jumbled in my head. The logical side in me suddenly could see that I was no longer clear. My comments and arguments were no longer quite aligning to what I’d set out to say. But I did have good intentions. I was trying to strike that balance. Trying to find the place where I could share what was hurting me. Where I could somehow share that perhaps a new boundary or at least the concept of one was starting to grow. I apologized. I’d completely flubbed up this beautiful day, this beautiful moment. But in no way could the genuineness behind my apology be articulated. “Bah! Why are you LIKE this JEN?! Why do you have to be so broken sometimes? Why can’t you hold your emotions in check long enough to speak when you’re feeling scared?!”
And all I can say is that afterwards… at the end of the day when I curled up in my bed, when I looked back at that moment to think about how it all went…the tears flowed freely and my whole body shook. I felt both pride that I did speak – and shame that I didn’t speak well. And the whole situation rocked me to my core – because I woke up with a wet pillow, swollen eyes and a raging headache. My tears had obviously continued into the night.
This morning – i’m trying to figure out why this shook me so much. I’ve certainly put my foot in my mouth many times in my life. Why did this one moment leave me feeling so tangled up … and I think it comes back to vulnerability.
If I look back at my past – I have always hated sitting for long in uncomfortable moments. Sitting in that level of discomfort is so bothersome to me that I will try and “fix” it. I will try and do whatever I can to bring about some sense of relief… some clarity… a rule.. an expectation. I think in those moments, when I’m the MOST scared – I’m looking for a box to put myself in. And sometimes, I might look to someone else to define the box for me. Maybe because I’m struggling to do it myself.
I believe in embracing vulnerability and know that there is strength in embracing those moments in our lives. Often it’s in those vulnerable moments that we learn and grow the most. But I also know that it’s been in my vulnerable moments that I have been hurt the most. And that often it’s been the people that I truly love and seek love from that, intentionally or not, have hurt me the most when I’ve been the most vulnerable. You’d think I’d give up sharing and being brave at all. I suppose that’s why I push myself to speak up and to keep being brave. I don’t want to stop in my path of growth and learning and self discovery.
And that is why – I will keep going. Even tho I’m now scared of the consequences of my speaking up. Even tho I still don’t have a box to put myself in. I’m determined to learn to sit in the moment. It’s a lesson that is long overdue for me. And I’ll have to learn to be ok with occasionally putting my foot in my mouth.