Last month, the female contingent of our house had a pretty vulnerable month.
I posted my first public blog post and our eldest daughter underwent some pretty intense blood tests. Both things saw me with a racing heart, sweaty palms and THE FEAR. The blood tests were fine by the way and she was a total hero.
My writing went down well too and some people said really lovely things. But the thing that surprised me the most was a word that popped up in almost all of the comments. That word that kept popping up was ‘brave’. How ‘brave’ I was to share my feelings so honestly, how ‘brave’ to put myself out there like that. After the 30th comment like that I began to question myself – something that comes pretty naturally to me… had I over- shared? Was it too much? Had I overstepped the mark? Was this stuff I should be keeping under wraps? Cue, fear, shame and more vulnerability.
You see to me, this is just who I am and blogging about it feels like a natural extension and a good use of my skills and experience. It didn’t really feel brave. I just figured, that if someone else could gain even the smallest reassurance or insight by reading something I have written then to me it’s worth it. It doesn’t feel brave to write about my feelings or experiences. It just feels real. And to some extent a relief. A relief to not have to keep up the facade of social acceptability that keeps conversations only skin deep most of the time. BORING.
But maybe it is brave given the insensitive backlash Simon Thomas, (the BBC Sports Presenter who lost his wife) received this week on social media. Simon has blogged (bravely and beautifully) about his grief, and appeared on t.v. stoically letting himself be interviewed. But for one individual they had to point out how this happens all the time to people and that basically he was nothing ‘special’. Simon’s response to the individual who trolled him?
“I don’t think you’ll find anywhere that I have made out my grief is unique or more than anyone else’s.”
And that’s the whole point isn’t it? The very fact that it isn’t unique, that there are other people out there going through just the same experience and feeling totally alone in it, because nobody talks about it. The hope is surely that by sharing his experience they might also feel less alone. It is not to raise yourself above anyone else but to open yourself out to others. It put me in mind of this quote from Light is the New Black, by Rebecca Campbell:
“I don’t share to teach or convince others, I share to make those who feel the same as me feel less alone”.
Here here. Keep being brave Simon, we all have something to share and something that someone else will need to hear. I will keep putting myself out there too, in spite of my fears and vulnerabilities and I will keep this quote close at hand as I do so..
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit goes to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood: who strives valiantly…”
Theodore Roosevelt 1910