Sometimes, as my general attitude to life is positive, vibrant and full of optimism, people mistake this for naiveté. We all make assumptions about others right? What do you assume about people? Do you know their story? I saw this post on my friends Instagram a while back, I kinda liked it - it said:
This, amongst other things recently revealed got me thinking; why do we make assumptions about others? Why do we project and disown our own shadows? Why do we tell half truths, blatant lies and distort reality? My feeling is that often it's not coming from a malicious place but a fear based one. We are all scared underneath, to a greater or lesser degree, and the greatest distortions in my opinion are born from fear, the antithesis of love. We may ask ourselves, what can't I say when I feel this? Why do I feel so exposed if I speak my truth? We're all so damn scared of rejection and it goes back a long way, often to early childhood, where obviously if we feel afraid of abandonment there isn't a much greater place of terror as we're not able to take care of our own needs at that point. Children are great at forgetting stuff so deep trauma can be utterly erased, however that 'soul loss' will remain until revisited and healed, if not, it will have a nasty wee habit of resurfacing every time the wound is opened and sometimes we don't even know what opens it, only how to close it fast!
So by the age of 19, in the depths of serious addictions and fully immersed in London Gangland and all that came with that, my fears were pretty well masked. I was lost, but paradoxically thought I was super sussed and had it all under wraps. I didn't. Underneath I was a scared young woman; the problem was I didn't really know it and so there was a certain inevitability about the things I had to 'learn' before I could become aware and therefore make changes, and it seems the Universe had decided tough lessons were to be my thing.
So what do we do when we call in hard lessons? We sink, or we swim.
So, like Dorie, I just kept swimming. My Grandmother always said that I narrowly escaped death over and over. I now consider she may have been right. As a result, the woman you see today is self aware and damn grateful to be here, to be alive and to be clean and strong. I have the stamina of an ox and the balls of a rugby team and if anyone thinks my optimism is born of ignorance, its not, it's born of learning my lessons the hard way and learning them well. So why am I telling you all this? Well I think its because it hurts me to see beautiful souls locked in fear, scared of telling the world, their partners, their friends, their bosses, their families, who they really are. Scared of saying what pains them, and what uplifts them, what they truly desire and need, what they are struggling with and what they have to share. Afraid of being 'exposed' at any given moment, of upsetting others, or of losing our perceived securities, we learn to shut down those parts of us that allow us to be vulnerable and yet it is only in our vulnerability we have any chance of really becoming alive, joyful and whole again. Take me to my heart and nail it to the altar of love please!
So at age 22, it came to be that I was sitting beside Reggie Kray in Parkhurst Prison discussing his book draft for Reg Kray's Book Of Slang (not then published), his life and how he got to be there, and it all seemed perfectly normal to me. In there, he was a pretty ordinary guy believe it or not. Not very well, weakened by years in jail and the lifestyle he'd led, but quite unassuming beyond his reputation.
Once this man was young. Once he experienced distortions that shaped who he became and what became of him. Accepting responsibility for our actions is important. Not demonising a person "oh I could never do that" because who knows what we are capable of when not ourselves, when pushed, when influenced so absolutely by our peers, and our conditioning. It's not that though is it, it's what we do with what we've been given, what we choose in the moment. Blame, judgement and criticism are usually shadow projections. So I'm all for transparency and kindness these days. Communicating and allowing the vulnerability to crack me open. Everyone has a heart; look for it and don't ever stop looking.
As for me, I will allow myself to be open to criticism because of two things: One, it doesn't touch me as long as I'm comfortable in my own skin and choosing love over and over, and two, your criticism is not about me, it's about you!
And so I call to Courage, Truth, Integrity, Love, Transparency, and Gratitude and ask that they continue to shape my life and the lives of those around me. I expect radical honesty in my primary relationships. In being brave enough to speak your truth, you gift me with the ability to speak mine in response, and that is truly a blessing.
So, let it be beautiful. Let it be.