The overarching theme of Brené Brown's research and work is shame, vulnerability and courage. And it has completely helped me to change my entire life. The courage she displayed in her first TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is something to be in awe of. It has only been through witnessing this courage that many events in my life have unfolded and taken place; Emerging Women 2013, Ever Upward the book and the blog, The Daring Way™ Certification training, and really, the first spark of my own recovery.
Because courage is contagious.
Witnessing courage in others; through the work of my patients, through my own loved ones and through amazing people like Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Melton helps us all to believe in our own power to change our lives.
And there are simply not enough sufficient words to portray the emotion I feel when others own their stories because I have owned mine.
Every single like, comment, and especially, share of Ever Upward posts.
The woman who has never spoken to anyone but her husband about their infertility struggles and stumbles upon Ever Upward to then post on Facebook that she is starting a infertility support group at her church.
My friend who admitted to more friends of how they finally became pregnant with their soon to be born baby girl.
My patient who chooses her recovery every day because she knows we've all had to fight some sense of recovery in our lives, even me, her therapist.
It is not always easy to speak, let alone own, all the parts of my story. Shame still resides in me, really in us all, as my unhealthy, unwanted, and really unneeded, savior; the dark dementor that comes in to shut me down, to protect me from pain and judgment.
The shame that comes in making me feel a dark, heavy pit in my stomach that then wafts the suffocating fog over my spirit dulling my light.
I felt it just this past week when Huffington Post ran the article, The Question The Gives You a One in Eight Chance of Being an Insensitive Jerk. I was so excited to see a huge site like HuffPost run a blog post about infertility. And I will completely admit, I only wish they had featured my blog and that they had spoken more to every side of the infertility world, but breaking the silence of infertility on any level is a step towards the death of shame that silences us so much.
But then I made the mistake of reading the comments on HuffPost's Facebook page in response to the article. The amount of ignorance, judgment and mercilessness were all I needed for my shame to pull everything I've worked so hard on right out from under me. I was faced with the words that bring on my shame spiral in a blink of an eye, "I don't understand why people who cannot have kids don't just adopt."
It hit me like a two ton shield. My heart started racing, my breath quickened and I could feel the dark pit in my stomach churn. My dementor came in so quickly to shut me down, to "protect" me, to steal my light.
And then I named it.
I took a breath, reminded myself of the power of my light and I spoke. I took a moment to post a comment myself on the Facebook feed, taking the opportunity to educate on how much infertility is misunderstood, minimized and invalidated, especially with that inevitable question. And, then I also emailed HuffPost asking them to run additional articles on this subject and even submitted for an opportunity to write something myself.
I took a breath and I found my courage.
I took a breath and embraced the pain and the judgment to remind me that the flame of my spirit, my core values, are courage and hope. And unless, I protect that flame myself, no one else will ever be able to see it.
I took a breath and I spoke.
I took a breath and I tried to be contagious.
As, it has only been through the courage and spark of others' protecting and living their own flame, that I have found mine.
Because courage is contagious.
So even if HuffPost never features Ever Upward or my book doesn't become a New York Times bestseller or the blog never achieves a hundred thousand followers I will still be here.
I will still be here, shining my light of courage and hope because it is the only way I honor my own recovery. And, if my light sparks the courage in even just one person to fight for finding their own ever upward, well then, I consider it contagious.