A new friend and I were recently sitting together, drinking coffee and getting to know one another. At one point, the topic of my blog came up, and she said to me, “I love your blog…it’s like your words come straight from your heart.” I thanked her for taking the time to read my posts, and giving me her feedback.
I reflected on her words for quite some time after our coffee date.
Speaking, writing, hearing, straight from the heart, is so much easier said than done. In fact, the process of writing this blog, each week, is a step by step effort to get closer to that very ideal. Becoming closer to our own truth, and then finding the courage and the words to somehow express that truth to ourselves and others.
We have so many filters, so many layers of protection, that we have built up over the years. Sometimes it is hard to be exactly who we are…either because we have forgotten, or because we are afraid of how others might react towards us. Sometimes we have lived in protection for so long that we don’t know how to be safe any other way.
I find this type of vulnerability–being my complete, whole self in all situations– challenging on multiple levels. As a psychiatrist, I have to be aware of my patients who might be reading my words, and how those words impact their perception of me, and their treatment with me. As a wife and mother, I have to be conscious of respecting my family’s right to confidentiality, or at least aware of how my children might one day feel about the stories I share.
But even beyond that, just as a human being, living this life with other human beings, it can be difficult to expose the most honest, true parts of ourselves. The good and the bad. The proud and the shameful. The beautiful and the grotesque.
Over time, we start to slowly box ourselves in to our particular story. We identify with our story, and the labels that come along with it. Sometimes we label ourselves, and sometimes others define us. And it becomes harder and harder to allow ourselves to let ourselves out of that box–the box of “stay at home mom”, the box of “career woman”, the box of “beautiful”, the box of “smart”–whatever boxes we created and occupied and somehow cannot escape.
But what if, instead, we could allow ourselves to just live our experience and speak it out loud? What if we put the labels to the side for the moment? What if we weren’t afraid of how others might perceive us, if they really, truly, knew us? What would it be like to live, not just with our fingers on the pulse of our humanity, but actually holding our beating, bleeding heart out for everyone to see?
I don’t know what that’s like, but I long to know. It is the transparency I see in my children when they are hungry and tired and can’t hold up their defenses anymore. It is the profound nakedness I witness in my patients when they have stripped down all of the layers of their story and are at the core of what makes them human.
It is only fear that holds me back now, but I am working on it. Each week, writing this blog, working with my patients, mothering my children, is a step closer to learning how to be and express my true self, all of it. It is a shattering of the box’s four walls. Word by word, I am learning how to be angry, how to use my voice, how to defy expectations, how to own my experience, how to find comfort in my skin, how to deserve, how to ask the questions.
How to write, speak, live…straight from the heart.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to consider what living straight from the heart would look like for you? Would you do anything differently? What holds you back? How would your relationships change?
With gratitude, Monisha