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Every Tuesday, I take the morning off of teaching yoga to write. I teach in the evening, but in the morning, while my son is at school and my husband is working, I hire the nanny to care for the baby and I take the morning to write.
Today, I left my house as I sometimes do so the baby can stay in her home environment and play, and planted myself at Starbucks. I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation about two inches from my right elbow. I desperately longed for headphones, but alas — I left them behind in the stroller.
“I’m an open book,” she insisted. For a moment, it seemed a though she was. In the course of the next hour, I learned the following about her, as she was counseling a friend in charge of raising money for a local school focused on children with special needs:
She is a single mom of a daughter with dyslexia.
She fears her child has OCD.
Her child was recently prescribed anti-depressant meds, specifically Zoloft.
Her child’s father told her that anti-depressants will make her want to kill herself.
She is also on anti depressants.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard the following:
Don’t tell anyone about this but... (another secret revealed).
Don’t tell anyone I told you but... (someone else’s secret revealed — someone from a prominent local family).
Don’t tell her I told you, but... (more secrets told).
It was disheartening to witness. In the course of a very short period of time, this woman unveiled so much fear and so many secrets.
Where does overwhelming, all consuming fear of life like this lead?
Pain. Shame. And more fear.
The phrase I’m an open book, is actually false in this case. These are the words my soul begged to share ...
No, dear stranger, you’re not. You’re hiding mostly from yourself. You say you’re an open book to fool yourself. But truthfully, you’re buried under all of those skeletons in your closet. You are using your pain to define who you are but you aren’t quite sure who that magnificent creature is. You haven’t forgiven self for your imperfections so you air them instead hoping that will absolve you of what you perceive are ugly truths, rather than embracing both your light and dark sides. We all have both. It’s ok. Truly, it is. Please, liberate yourself and not just to a bunch of strangers held captive in your local Starbucks. Most importantly, liberate yourself to you.
Get still. Get connected to your breath. Soften. Listen to your soul. It’s longing for acceptance, love and peace.
In Shamanism, according to one of my dear friends trained in shamanism, one of the central truths is transparency. The theory is that carrying secrets results in energy depleting, life-altering shame, heaviness, and scarring that often manifests as disease.
What if you decided that there was nothing to be ashamed of? What if you welcomed that we are all connected, that we are all more alike that we can ever fathom even as we stand in our complete uniqueness? What if you stopped hiding that which you are most regretful of and instead approached life with a vantage point of love?
Love for self. Love for strangers. Love for family. Love for every piece of life — even the pieces that scare you. What might your reality look like then? Can you fathom how it might feel? How light and carefree and delicious, yes, delicious?!
This, I say, is true liberation. It’s truly being an open book, when you can reveal all facets of self to you and love yourself anyways. I invite you to try it on.