30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 13: here we go again… #truth #courage … or NOT

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Hi.

Welcome to Day 13 of nnnnngngggnzzz znznnnnggg! gaknnnnggngnnnzzzng.

Really?

Here:

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

W H A T?!

I’m starting from the end at the moment: ‘weakness.’

Let’s take my father’s stance (which he now says is a joke), shall we?

Never apologize, mister. It’s a sign of weakness.

Well, I don’t think Mr. Penell who wanted to go pic-nic-ing was really … ‘sorry,’ he was sort of interrupting himself by way of explanation. Wayne, showing up Mr. Culhill for being a jerky twit, was trying to advocate for Mr. Penell, but the whole quote got taken out of context I think. Either that or John Wayne ad-libbed and it sounded awful.

But Wayne interrupted Mr. Pennel. He should’ve apologized…

My dad used to say that, “Never apologize, it’s a sign of weakness,” a LOT. Not the way Wayne said it either. I heard it several dozen times growing up. When I was about 26, I asked him to say he was sorry for something. He replied with that crap. So I’d grown really fucking sick of it and called him on it.

I said to him, “No. It takes GUTS to apologize and own our mistakes and let people know we see we’ve screwed them. It’s what leaders do.” He garumphed and hrmphed.

Then he said it again about three years later and sheepishly tried to slurp it back up saying, “Oh, that’s right, you don’t like that saying.” To which I replied, “No. I don’t. I think it’s for losers.” 

A few years ago he said it again, this time affecting John Wayne. I glared at him. He exclaimed, “It was just a joke!” and I simmered inside, “You never hear me.” To wit: his first apology about anything substantial regarding pain and trauma he inflicted on me was in July 2013 and that was after I freaked on him.

It didn’t take courage to say that to my dad; I was just done. It was crazy talk. So maybe for me anyway, Truth feels like freakin’ sanity.

His generation, the one that went to those movies and believed that crap, is seriously phuched up. I believe they think being compassionate is like a cancer. I don’t like John Wayne because my dad said that quote so often. I’ve never seen a movie of his. Someone tell me to see one and I will.

Ok. Back to Brown.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Done. Next… Wait. Y’know what? She talks funny sometimes. It’s like she’s missing some modifiers or parallel phrasing or linking verbs or something that makes … uh … what’s the word ….? Oh yes: “sense.” Whatevs. I’m almost halfway done here.

“Vulnerability” is just the ability to BECOME vulnerable (which is still a potential condition): susceptible to attack.

So as a writer would do this… “Being vulnerable, means being truthful which can feel courageous.” Well, I guess, if you’re a pathological liar.

Being truthful in existential way, means Being Real which means cutting the crap. No one is born being a pompous,  obtuse, blowhard, big-mouthed jackhole. Everyone is born naked and freakin’ FREAKED OUT. Have you seen a baby’s birth ever? They’re a mess! But they’re also very trusting.

It means, as a friend privately wrote to me about me, “in a sea of fakers and haters” we are being the real deal. We take off the armor, we are letting it all hang out. We are owning our dis-ease.

All together now: “Being vulnerable, means being truthful which can feel courageous.” That “vulnerability” (being who we are) feels like courage. Don Not so fast… I don’t know about you, but sometimes being truthful or vulnerable feels like a heart attack or that I’m being ready to get kicked in the stomach. In yoga, it feels like Camel pose.

YIKES. talk about vulnerability. You can't even see what's coming... doing that pose can have two mental effects: total fear or total guts. (c)myyoga.bc.cdn.bitgravity.com

YIKES. talk about vulnerability. You can’t even see what’s coming… doing that pose can have two mental effects: total fear or total guts. You gotta just ride it out. (c)myyoga.bc.cdn.bitgravity.com

I used to weep when in this pose. And not from the position, but from the emotional ocean of inadequacy in which I churned on a daily basis. I still don’t care for this pose, but I do it to face my vulnerability. I don’t know if that’s courage. It doesn’t feel like it.

When we are faced with our Truth, it’s not always a really great feeling. It usually comes up because we can’t take the lies anymore.

When we speak / live our Truth, does it feel like courage? You tell me. When I speak my Truth, I don’t feel some surge of power, as though the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” might start up and I am handed a cape.

I don’t feel like this:

The Lion felt like courage had to come from outside; I get it… it’s all within us. But even when he got it from the Wizard, he didn’t really … get it from the Wizard, he got it because he kicked ass at the castle.

He had to dig in to dig it out. He had to prove himself.

Now I’m screwing it all up. Vulnerability was not part of the Lion’s issue here.

What? Yes it was! He sang that —

How?

That song, he knew what if he were King what he’d do …

Well, he was a fake. He was wearing his ‘armor…’ He pretended to be brave or King of the Forest, but in actuality he was afraid; he was lyin’.

Ha ha, cute pun. Lyin’, I get it.  Ok. Let me mull this over. Barkeep! Root beer on the rocks. With a straw. Yes. The Lion was a fraud. When he was vulnerable, he was not truthful, he hurt “poor Toto.” He was on the defense. So his vulnerability didn’t ‘sound’ like truth or seem at all courageous.

Right.

When his courage did manifest, it did as actual courage, when y’know, he and Scarecrow and Tin Man kicked Tinky Winks and flying-monkey butt at the castle.

Ok. Right. Keep going….

Shit. Now I’m all confused.

Why?

Well, because under this logic, Lion’s Truth, his acknowledgement of fraud, became his courage?

I know. Right…

No. It’s still not working.  Dorothy had to be Lion’s “Truth.” She scolded him for picking on Toto. Remember? He was delusional and afraid. That’s why he picked on Toto. He was on the defensive. He was never really on the Truth bus. He was never OK with being vulnerable. Only the Tin Man was. Lion had to sing that entire song only to admit at the end of it that he was full of garbage. Lion was sort of a blow hard. Like …

Wayne?!

Yeah. Like Wayne.

Ok. Screw Lion. Tin Man was the best. He was all about love.

Back to Brown. (It was a nice distraction though, right?)

Being vulnerable feels like hell. I get all shaky, I feel weak and I want to run.

BUT… once I do speak my Truth, I feel better. Lighter and mightier and worthy.

Truth: admissions of an addiction, atonements, making amends, owning your rage, even owning your relief, means: to ‘show up.’ It means: to follow through and go all the way. Those actions do NOT feel like courage to me; they feel like character. I don’t bandy about these words the way Brown does. She might be a researcher and famous and all that, but I honestly think she’s off a few degrees here.

Courage can be stupid. Bravery can be totally misguided. It might take courage to walk on a tightrope across the Grand Canyon like that dude did last spring, but I honestly feel that doing that isn’t character.  He still might cheat on his wife. And he didn’t do it for his family. He did it because he’s a douchebag. (Even though I was impressed.) Let’s not confuse things, Brené. He faced fear, sure, but you don’t have to risk your life and possibly widow your wife to face fear. That whole stunt was hubris. In that equation it takes courage to be arrogant.

What COMES of the truth: that’s courage and she’s totally right here: it’s NOT weakness. When we share with another person to own our Truth and then make earnest strides to change is strength and character.

I will concede that that Brown’s is correct in saying courage is not always comfortable and that neither truth nor courage are weakness. But just because something isn’t comfortable doesn’t mean it’s a weakness in us to want to make it comfortable.

As in this series, for example. It’s a little hard for me, her writing is unintelligible sometimes. She’s asking for lots of introspection and I am OK with it. It’s helping me prepare and be ready for the memoir writing (which is just verbal vomit right now and likely will be for about a year). That said, I’m not throwing in the towel on this series. I will dig deep into my writing chops and figure it out. It’s not a matter of forming calloused or coarsened hands; it’s a matter of stretching, lengthening and broadening myself to be big and lithe enough to handle my truth. Camel pose.

May we all grow big and lithe to handle and boast our truths.

After all that slicing and dicing… now that I think about it, those John Wayne-hating moments between me and my father were vulnerable for me: I did show him I was hurt and it was my truth and it did feel like courage and it was uncomfortable but it wasn’t weakness.

Shit! I just needed to go back to my syllogism classes. All she had to say was: Vulnerability is not weakness. (And neither are apologies.) Done.

Thank you.

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