Recently, I was talking with a few friends about the conundrum of love—how there’s not enough language around connection.
You either like, or you love.
When dealing in the realm of human connection, things are much more colourful and much less black and white. During that conversation, I said, “I fall in love with souls—the rest is secondary.”
This is true of many relationships, regardless of classification, yet there are things that hold me back—rattles in the closet. Still, I’m getting to a place where I’m more comfortable with my identity. I don’t like to use the term sexual identity, because there’s much more to a journey than just that.
But, this. Always this.
The unnamed dance of socially acceptable versus soul-fully acceptable.
I’ve always felt that because I was unable to clearly define the way I feel—or how I identify—that I had to keep the fact that I might be anything outside the status quo a secret.
We are all made to believe that this is a dirty word.
A few weeks back, when we were prompted to write about them, the wave moving through our apprenticeship group was palpable (even though we only ever meet on screen).
I felt the same way, until I saw it for what it was: fear.
We are made to believe that secrets are dirty words because of fear. Fear is the driving force that keeps these truths hidden.
Once those things get dusty, it gets harder and harder to find the motivation to sweep our cobwebs away and be authentic.
This is undeniably true of mine. I’ve not been a steel trap about my identity by any means, but I don’t openly proclaim anything either.
When I asked myself why I continue to lock away certain aspects of my full self, I realized it comes down to one fear in particular:
The people I love might love me less.
Is this fear the lock that holds all our secrets? The shadow of doubt convincing us that we will somehow be less worthy of love if we allow what we hold with clenched fists to see the light?
But what if this wasn’t about them?
“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
If the “me” they love isn’t in full bloom—or at least striving to get there—am I truly happy?
I know it might sound selfish, but I promise you it isn’t. I used to hate all that stuff about “becoming your own best friend.” I’d turn the radio off every time I heard lyrics on the subject and roll my eyes when others posted about it.
Now, I feel the importance of that.
At the end of the day, we’re the only ones who need to live inside ourselves for the rest of our lives. If we continue to cast the things or people we love as “guilty pleasures,” allowing fear to be the gatekeeper of our secrets, we’re only hurting ourselves.
The day after the prompt was dropped and done, a song I’d never heard before came on my playlist. I decided to let it play, because the first few words made me go, “Huh?”
“Secrets,” by Mary Lambert.
As you can imagine, before long I was giggling. The chorus, though? That’s what spurred me on.
“I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.”
Well, neither do I—anymore.
What would happen if we started to dust the cobwebs off a few things?
Would it be painful? Maybe.
Would people react in a variety of ways (some of which we perceive to be unfavorable)? Likely.
Would we sneeze and have a hell of a time with the years of dust that accumulated on our truths? Probably.
We would attract people we wouldn’t need to second guess. In time, we would become stronger. By taking our power back and letting the light stream in, we would illuminate more than just fear.
There are lots of things that go bump in the night: shame, vulnerability, guilt.
For any of us to think this process will be glorious or glitzy, it won’t. But there in the dark, dancing with fear, is freedom.
As I started to mull this concept over, I realized I had no idea how to start.
So I took things one step at a time. Here are five tools that helped me bring my secret to light:
>> Write. Pen and Paper. Pour it all out in a tizzy of words. Care not if it makes any sense.
Rip it up and release it into the wind, or burn it. Although we may not be starting with the world, we’re arguably starting with the universe (and that’s pretty badass).
>> Get Creative. Maybe this is selecting crayon colors that we connect with and melting them down a canvas à la art-on-a-budget. Maybe it looks like recording a video of a dance that expresses secrets without words, at first.
>> Breathe. Cobweb cleaning is hard work. Don’t forget to breathe. Maybe that means yoga, hiking or rock climbing. Find a spectacular view that reminds you of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Give thanks for that. If the outdoor vibe isn’t jiving, try closing your eyes for a moment and simply feeling your feet on the floor.
>> Talk to Strangers. Whether behind the warm glow of a screen or in the audience of a local open mic, practice makes most everything easier. (I almost told the grocery store line my secret, but then the idea of saying, “Hey, those carrots look delicious, and here’s a secret from the depths of my soul!” seemed a bit too much to take.)
>> Be the Ant. Remember that while these things may feel totally earth-shattering and monumental, they don’t need to be. What’s huge for the ant is small peanuts for an elephant. (See what I did there?) Sometimes we need to find elephants. Perspective is important.
Above all, we must be kind to ourself and kind to others.
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are, but I absolutely want the world to know that they’re loved—that their secrets don’t have to be secrets.
Living, breathing humans—their lives and loves do not belong behind a lock.
Author: Jen Schwartz
Image: Araí Moleri Riva-Zucchelli/Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Jeramie Vaine; Editor: Toby Israel
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