Everything After But is...Vulnerable
Photo by  Ben White

Photo by Ben White

What does your BUT say about the truth that you may be fearful of looking at?

“No problem can be solved from the same of level of consciousness that created it.” ~Albert Einstein

In recovery we are required to embrace a program of rigorous honesty. If we desire to thrive in recovery, it is suggested that we do a fearless moral inventory to get to the root of our spiritual maladies. It is also suggested that we leave no stone unturned nor do we skimp on the cement put into the foundation. It was agreed by me, that I would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol and that is what I have done. Along the way though, one part of this equation would stir my emotions and it was this exact phrase, ‘Everything after BUT is bullshit.”

            From where I sat, I would find this to be an outdated philosophy on being tough to get the desired results from old school thinking. Through my own experiences in recovery, I have learned to stand up for myself by speaking up for the parts of me that no longer want to agree with those who feel that weaknesses can be bullied out of someone’s subconscious thoughts. This is how I found the truth of what came after my BUT.

            One day, while on the phone with my sponsor, I was having a discussion with her about but, bullshit, and its relation to preventing me from moving forward. I had a lump in my throat because it was tough to swallow the thought that I was “butting” my way through excuses and the “whys” of repetitive setbacks. We spoke of the whack-a-mole game and how the mole might need to be given a “hug” instead of getting smashed in the head only to pop up in another area of my life. It was right then that I had an epiphany about the elusive voice in my head. It was one of those sobbing moments that sent me over the emotional edge of “Everything after BUT is bullshit”. All of a sudden, in between gasps for air, I had the desire to stop and listen to what this vulnerable inner voice wanted to say. I took a deep breath, settled in to the energy and sat still. For the first time (ever) I had found compassion for the “mole of fear” that raged inside of my troubled soul. What happened next shocked me and eventually set me free from the sting of my inner critic.

In that moment I knew that BUT (for me) was a verbal gateway for TRUTH. Here is an example of my BUT. I’d love to be a powerful TED speaker, BUT… I am way to busy and my girls need me more than ever. For me, but was my insecurity speaking in truth! Here is my BUT decoded,

“I am terrified of failure, being mocked or laughed at like I was in the 5th grade play. My costume was horrible and did not portray my character properly. I needed a 1930’s flapper dress and I was wearing a bright green tropical dress that a friend gave to me because I told her that I forgot mine at home. I lied to save myself from the embarrassment of NOT having a costume. I was out of place and all eyes were on the odd kid who didn’t match. I was devastated. What they did not know was that my mom was mentally ill and wasn’t there to help me-at all. I did not have the right costume and did not know who, or how, to ask for help. I was deeply ashamed and unspeakably embarrassed. That left over emotional baggage was telling me that I will never have the right “costume” and I will never be able to fulfill my dreams of sharing my truth to help others from a speaker’s platform.

Now, for many, this seems like an extreme consequence for a 5th grade mess up and complete nonsense, BUT to me, it was the painful truth from the perspective of a terrified 10-year-old little girl. My whole world was being turned upside down.  I was all alone inside my head and abandoned in real life. School was my safe place until it became the frightening world of shame. That time in my life was unimaginably dark and lonely. That day the “costume” metaphor became the BUT behind not wanting to ever feel that deep sense of shame that was born from my youthful inability to cope with life’s unfair circumstances that were beyond my control.

The beauty in all of this is that I was able to be present that day and listen to the madness in my head otherwise known as the BUT. Because of this epiphany, I was able to write those fears out on paper while I stood up and said them out loud to myself. I then decided to sit with the possibility of what failure felt like. After a few minutes, I laughed uncontrollably at what has NOT happened yet. This moment of raw truth allowed me to recall how many times I watched TED speakers who were real, vulnerable and spoke with a fiery passion that was so contagious it left me wanting more. For me, it was the vulnerability that drove my heart to listen to myself. Then I remembered that my ultimate favorite TED talk is, The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown. This is where I learned that “Vulnerability is the birth place of creativity, innovation and change” and that everything after but was, in fact, not bullshit!

I am challenging anyone who is on the quest for spiritual understanding of their own inner critic, to pay attention to what comes after BUT. It may be a load of bullshit, or it may be an honest truth that needs compassion and comfort until it passes through your consciousness and into the realm of what no longer servers your soul in recovery. Doing the work means doing the work, no matter how messy or how much coaxing it takes to lure fear out of hiding so that you can let it all go.

So next time someone says, “Everything after but is bullshit” just know that for some it may be, but for those of us who desire to dig deep and need to feel our feelings to grow we need to pause after the BUT. Pause and be present for the parts of you that want to trudge the happy road of destiny and build a foundation that is built on rigorous honesty. It, after all, is the first step to our recovery and the goal of true enlightenment.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” Brené Brown

 

 

 

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