Bearing and baring your whole truth
Some months ago, I was nearly bitten by a tick in my sleep. I felt the little fucker crawling on me in the middle of the night. My eyes popped open and instinctive insect-rage filled me. I plucked him off right before his attempt to burrow into the small of my back.
My guess is that I, or Matt, picked him up that day, while tromping around on an overgrown piece of property that we hoped to buy. (Spoiler: our dreams of this particular acreage were squashed by a high cash offer before we could submit our lowly over-asking offer of traditional financing and a heartfelt letter.)
I couldn’t fall back asleep because the heebie-jeebies kept me alert, so I accepted my insomnia as a divinely-gifted time for reflection, and went to the other room and looked at the moon in silence.
I began to pray for guidance about how to create the life I desire. And I had a vision of a powerful feminine entity handing me a heavy, cold, diamond-gleaming sword. No words were spoken, but I understood my acceptance of this sword was completely optional and would certainly require a strength I did not yet possess.
The sword is a thing one bears.
Consider the sword as a weapon: one cannot handle a weapon that size with any sort of frivolity. Swords requires precision, deep concentration, core strength, and self-trust that is only built through commitment, aligned will, and reverence.
I understood the sword offered to me was a gift and a privilege, and that I should only accept with the wholeness of my life, and the seriousness of death. My sure hands were surprised by its weight, and I felt my heart open to the devotion and responsibility I knew this sword required.
As soon as I came out of the meditation, I ran to my computer and began to write this essay about collective coercion. Without considering the consequences, I published the essay here and on my Instagram that day.
In Tarot, I interpret swords as a symbol for Truth, for logos, for spoken and honored boundaries, for the spine. Where I once shrank myself and omitted my truth in order to be approved and applauded by my peers, I dared to simply say what I really thought and stand in the truth of what I value. I knew some would not like it, but I did not expect the ensuing backlash.
I experienced reputational loss and was jostled from a community who I believed to know me better than they actually did. The accusations of being “dangerous,” “harmful,” “uncaring,” and the now-cult-classic “racist,” by people I once considered real-life friends was heartbreaking but intensely clarifying.
The initial loss of those relationships triggered so much shame, resentment and grief. Because I was a few months pregnant at the time and the response was so activating, I decided to step away from social media and any public creative expression, in order to nurture my nervous system, protect my growing baby, and give myself time to respond from a place of centeredness.
I often revisit my older journal entries to understand myself better. I discovered an entry from a month before I published the essay in which I asked, “What do I need to let go of that cannot come with me?”
My answers were:
“The need to please others or keep them comfortable.”
“The desire to hide.”
“My outdated internet persona and any ‘friends’ who would likely reject me if they really knew what I thought”
“The belief that no one understands me.”
When people talk about manifestation—or in normative speech, creating a life you love—no one seems to talk about the inevitable chaos (and potential pain) that initially comes with it. You don’t just get what you desire, rather you become the person who has it. This becoming leaves no room for what you have outgrown.
Old identities, relationships, dreams, and attachments must be shed. The universe may respond to your desire in a way that we tend to judge as a failure: getting fired, breaking up, being ostracized from a group, or a number of other rejections that invite self-doubt, uncertainty, and grief.
You must unbecome first.
I urge you: do not mistake loss, instability or even chaos, as misalignment with your Soul. In fact, it may be a requirement of your transformation.
This unbecoming can be intentional and gentle like mindfully sweeping of cobwebs from the corners of your bedroom. Other times, the entire bedroom needs to be remodeled; only a sledgehammer will do, but someone else came in swinging it and no one defined the project timeline.
Unbecoming can be confusing, undefined, painful. When an old, dirty bandage is ripped off a crusty scab, the new skin revealed beneath is often pink, raw, and stinging.
I believe the most fulfilling life is one rooted in the truest sense of who we are, lived as an expression of our deepest values. To create this fulfilling life, one must first understand themselves enough to understand what their own authentic values even are. Seeking to understand is an exercise in solitude, in listening, in utter vulnerability to truth of who you are.
Understanding will come. Your truth may trickle in slowly like flashes in a stream, or hard and fast like the sting of a bee, or in my case, an actual tick in my britches.
Once I understood my values, and began to articulate them with honesty, my external circumstances shifted rapidly. We found our homestead after two years of searching. My relationships are fewer but truer and more satisfying. My confidence is less conditional. My career path is clearer, and I sense that my deep work in the world is sprouting. I’m ready to welcome our baby any day now, girded by a hard-won self-trust.
I am, in many ways, that which I desired.
It took many dedicated hours of therapy and spiritual practices, and many tears, but I am finally in a place where I can hold the loss of these outgrown relationships without bitterness or blame. The scorched earth of rejection became fertile ground to grow self-understanding and truly aligned friendships.
Many women, who love me beyond any demands of conformity or correctness, have gathered around to support our daughter’s entrance into this dimension. She will arrive into a circle of trust and acceptance.
I stand up straighter these days. My daily devotion to my values prove to be a sturdy backbone from which to build a life, to parent, to partner, and to create. I am finding the courage to share my true thoughts in public spheres: not every thought, but the ones that matter most.
My friend Xenia says, “All art is vulnerability.”
To speak your truth with vulnerability is to bare your sword with care. It is to say, “This is who I truly am, take it or leave it.” This declaration is a call for genuine intimacy, which can never be based on a false, color-corrected, palatable, shrunken social-media projection of one’s self.
Rather, authentic connection is built on the rich, unedited, sometimes unbecoming wholeness of who you are. Everything that is meant for you, that is most satisfying to you, that desires you as much as you desire it, hears your raw vulnerability as a signal in the noise and draws near.