Sometimes it seems that life wants to give you a message. And if you don’t listen, that message gets bigger, stronger, louder.
Well, yesterday was one of those days.
A Rowdy posted one of our workbook questions on our forum, which opened a discussion.
The question: What does the truth mean to you?
Without hesitation I wrote:
The truth means living without apology.
I looked at that sentence for a long time, kind of... well, stunned. The answer seemed so clear, but am I really doing this? Do I live a life where I don’t apologize for who I am? Am I showing up? All the way?
A few hours later, Brooke and I were teaching our Life Coach School students result-based coaching techniques. For a demonstration, she asked me to pick a result I’d like to change in my life.
So, I picked a topic that’s not emotionally charged, not difficult. Really just no big deal. I want to have groceries in my fridge.
I really never have food in my house. If you saw the inside of my fridge - you’d be frightened. It usually has coffee creamer, white wine (you know - the necessities) and maybe some lettuce and ketchup. I’d like to change that.
I’d like to be the kind of person that has groceries in her fridge. I work from home - meaning that I eat from home. It makes absolutely no sense that I wouldn’t have food in my house.
So the story I told Brooke, about my avoidance of the grocery store was that it’s too far away and that I just generally hate tasks that are just maintenance. I don’t like getting gas for my car, going to the post office, or to the grocery store.
After a few well placed questions by Brooke (she’s pretty good at what she does), we realized that the real reason I don’t like going to the grocery store is because I hate running into people I know when I’m still in my hiking clothes.
To be more blunt. I don’t want to be in public if I’m not pretty.
Can you say vanity? Eeuw.
Seriously, shocking. I friggin have no groceries, ever. Because I don’t want to be seen.
How is it possible that I never knew this?
I mean, I know the vanity part. I am quite aware of that aspect of my personality. But, I didn’t know that my empty fridge was a result of it.
That’s the power of self coaching. Even the smallest little empty-fridge thought can have a life changing effect.
We decided to use my hike as leverage. To make a deal that I would go to the store a few times a week. And that I could go hiking after I put the groceries away.
I remembered my thought: The truth means living without apology.
Which means, not apologizing or hiding if you don’t feel pretty.
So, without prettiness as a qualifier, I went to the store. (At which point I clocked it at 6 minutes away. I guess that doesn’t really support my ‘it’s too far to drive' theory.) In my hiking clothes. With no makeup on (the horror).
And guess what I saw?
Other moms. In their workout clothes. With no makeup. Buying groceries.
Ok, so my theory was officially blown at that point.
Came home and put away the groceries. And went on my hike.
This is where the story gets good... stay with me - I know talking about groceries isn’t that exciting - but it’s part of the set up for what happened on my hike.
Back to the hike...
Out on the trail I thought about what it means to live without apology. To live without saying:
I’m sorry for who I am.
I’m sorry for what I look like.
I’m sorry for how much I like my work.
I’m sorry for how much money I make.
I’m sorry for how much I want.
I’m sorry that I can’t talk myself into settling for less.
I’m sorry that I’m not good enough.
I’m sorry that my skin isn’t perfect.
I’m sorry for what I love.
I’m sorry for what I say.
I’m sorry for not being better.
I’m sorry for not being who you want me to be.
These apologies are completely useless. And so painful. And I realized that me and my ridiculous-vanity-about-going-to-the-store-without-make-up-on was just another version of saying “I’m sorry.”
My music was on shuffle, and Eminem & Rihanna came on in the middle of this.
I heard the song in an entirely new way.
Got me to thinking...
Can I love the part of me that wants to lie? Can I love the part of me that wants to apologize for who I am?
The part of me that feels like I need to look pretty to feel safe.
The part of me who wants others to accept me before I accept myself.
The part of me that doesn’t trust what I know.
Can I love this way I lie?
Right then, mid-song.
I came around the bend and saw a woman hiking toward me.
As she got closer, I could see her face. No eyebrows. No eyelashes. Wearing a wig.
She has cancer.
She looked right at me and then away, as if to say, “I’m sorry. Please don’t see me.”
We were out in the middle of nowhere. Me with my no-make-up-face and her with her wig.
Tears in my eyes, I wanted to tell her, “I love the way you lie.”
Because I get it.
I understand what makes a person wear a wig as if to apologize for the reality of their disease.
I understand that lie.
I have that part of me too. The part that wants to be pretty. Or to be right. Or to be smart. Or good enough. The part that wants to wear a wig on a hike - even though I’m sick with an illness that requires no apology.
I get why she wants to say “I’m sorry.”
But I also know how powerful it is to drop the apology.
Because I’ve done that, too.
I know what it’s like to show up.
To tell the truth.
Little by little.
To know who I am. And love it.
To love what I look like. With or without makeup.
To love how much I like my work.
To love how much money I make.
To love how much I want. For myself and for others.
To love that I can’t talk myself into settling for less.
To love that I’m enough.
To love that my skin isn’t perfect.
To love what I love.
To love what I say.
To love that I don’t need to be better.
To love that I don’t need to be who you want me to be.
The truth means living without apology.
I want you and the beautiful hiking-wig-lady to know:
I love the way you lie.
But you don’t have to.
You can take off that wig.
And I will still love you.
We all will.