However much I identify with my persona, IT IS NOT ME. I mean, it is on a certain level, but I am so much more than one thing (i.e. kind, happy, optimistic, etc.). Most of the time I am positive, smiling, and kind, but the problem comes when others want to lock me into those expressions, or don't want to accept the fullness of my identity. The ability to allow another to be all of who they are, rather than one or two expressions is a true gift. Someone who can see my "bitch" self, or my "broken" self, my "angry" self, or my "pitiful" self and still love me, helps me to love myself even more.
We are all multifaceted beings with emotions that flex and release different expressions from day to day, hour to hour. I do not show all of myself to everyone. In times of difficulty, there are a few friends to whom I show my deep pain, in all of my brokeness–insecurities, weakness, shame, fear, etc. When I show these parts of myself, I show it boldly and fully, and what I have found is that some people can witness me like this, and for some, I can tell, my disclosure makes them very uncomfortable. Even people I am very close with back away, or say things to try and remove my pain as if it is contagious, repulsive, unnecessary, or distasteful. So often we skirt around our pain like a frozen pond, afraid that if we go too far we will fall in over our heads. The gift of witnessing another walking deep into their pain serves as a rope that can anchor the journeyer in safety, even if they don't need it. The journeyer knows that they are tethered to someone who loves and cares for them–someone who knows they are more than a pained expression–someone that honors the fullness of their experience and identity.
It is such a blessing to be seen in our rawest, most unattractive states and still be loved and accepted–to be witnessed. It is a gift for someone to see me blubbering and insecure, but still know that I am more than that–that I am many things, including that. When a loved one gives me the gift of witnessing me at my darkest, it helps me to love myself and see myself as a whole being, not just the smiling woman, but the broken woman, the strong woman, the weak woman, the goddess, the human. When someone witnesses me as all of it, I am better able to see all of me, instead of only one isolated part. The real me is ALL OF IT.
Witnessing another person's pain, grief, anger, or sadness is a sacred gift. To hold space and allow the tears to flow without a need to stop them, gives the one experiencing strong emotions a safe container, and allows them to be more fully ALL of themselves. As we become more comfortable with all of who we are, we are better able to hold space for others to experience all of who they are. Through this journey of holding space we grow and thrive, and create a world where it is safe to know that we can embrace the fullness of our identities.