Parents, You MUST Watch 13 Reasons Why

I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why and I’m a mess.

Emotionally gut-wrenching, I am conflicted. Also, grateful, horrified, shocked, challenged.

I presume this was the intended goal for the team that developed the series. Mission accomplished. For that reason alone, it is absolutely brilliant.

Because the show is relatively new, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen it or read the book, so I will avoid spoilers as much as possible. Alternatively, if you have seen it, I welcome your input. I crave it. There’s so much to discuss.

If you aren’t familiar, here is the description of the series, taken from Netflix:

“Newcomer Katherine Langford plays the role of Hannah, a young woman who takes her own life. Two weeks after her tragic death, a classmate named Clay finds a mysterious box on his porch. Inside the box are recordings made by Hannah — on whom Clay had a crush — in which she explains the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. If Clay decides to listen to the recordings, he will find out if and how he made the list. This intricate and heart-wrenching tale is told through Clay and Hannah’s dual narratives.”

You might be wondering if it’s just another young adult heart-string puller like The Fault in Our Stars or Me Before You.

I did.

But there was enough chatter online that I decided I’d give it a try the next time I was looking for something to watch on Netflix. I thought I’d watch one or two episodes and decide if it held my interest.

I wasn’t sure what to think at first.
It was clever, interesting, and a wee bit mysterious.

I couldn’t help noticing the compelling, beautiful, intriguing manner in which the story was being told. The unfolding of the plot provides insight into a myriad of complex situations, providing the viewer with context.

I watched most of the series by myself. After introducing it to my 16 year old daughter, she said, “I don’t think I want to watch anymore. It feels like they are glorifying suicide and it pisses me off. Kids don’t need anymore reasons to be emo and romanticize killing themselves.”

She’s spot on.

In the first several episodes, I wondered the same thing. This beautiful girl is boldly presenting her case for justifying taking her life, loud and proud. It’s uncomfortable to process.

If you only watch the first several episodes of 13 Reasons Why and then quit, you’ll miss out. All you will see is a girl blaming classmates and friends for how they have failed her. You’ll feel a measure of pity for her, a little bit of disgust at the mistreatment, but, overwhelmingly you’ll still be judging her for making her choice… as well as for leaving the most elaborate dramatic suicide note ever.

Keep watching.

The narrative shifts, becoming more and more difficult to identify and compartmentalize your feelings about what has occurred in this young woman’s life.

Initially, the viewers may feel this girl was an attention seeking drama queen who wasn’t capable of handling disappointment. I felt that. I wondered how much damage this series could cause for teenagers who idolize the story, the characters. And to be frank, this still concerns me greatly.

When discussing the series, this has got to be one of the main points of the dialogue.

Are we aware of what message our children are receiving (regardless of what message is intended?)

Unfortunately, there WILL be a percentage of teens who are mesmerized by the sadness, the inherent beauty in the pain, even in the outcome. Sadly, there may be mimics, and at the very least, a large number who will sit in their rooms making lists of specific reasons why they want to die. And now, the bar has been raised for them to be more and more creative with their presentation.

HOWEVER, before you toss the series aside and perhaps even forbid your children from watching it, let me tell you something:

YOU OWE IT TO YOUR CHILDREN TO WATCH IT.

Yes, you.

13 Reasons Why doesn’t sugarcoat what our children experience every day at school. It may be difficult for you to listen to the language, to the topics of conversation. Might be tough to reconcile that “our” kids are facing similar issues, that they’re struggling so much to navigate.

But, they are. And whether you want to admit it or not, even the best kids and students, with the best of intentions can make mistakes. They can falter in a moment of weakness. They can inadvertently cause another pain, or they can be on the receiving end of cruel remarks, unkind actions, and be too embarrassed to ask for help working through it.

YOUR KIDS, TOO.

Get past the first couple of episodes where you question if it’s just another soap opera for angsty teenagers.

An alarming trend starts to reveal itself.

Lack of involved parenting is prevalent. In fact, in my opinion, it’s the root cause of everything in this story.

Hannah’s parents, though they loved her, were busy with their business and financial troubles. They missed the warning signs of her despondency and sadness. I bawled my eyes out during the part where they discover her (yes, it is a graphic, brutal scene and it was excruciating to watch). The shock and horror of losing your child. Ugh. I don’t even want to type that next sentence, so please just follow it to your own conclusion.

Throughout the 13 Reasons Why, we are shown glimpses of other teenager’s lives. Overwhelmingly, involved parenting was absent.

These kids who are growing into their adult bodies, may start to look more mature, but they are still young and inexperienced. They are uncertain and looking around them for signs of approval, for acceptance. They need guidance, unconditional love, and support.

As parents, we need to be aware of our children – who their friends are, where they spend their time, what they struggle with. We need to keep the lines of communication open so they can talk to us about difficult things.

It’s also our job to talk to our children about this series. Left to their own devices, they may only see sensationalized suicide.

There is great value here, for us as parents, to learn and to teach.

13 Reasons Why is loaded with opportunity to talk frankly with our teenagers.

Each episode covers topics that can serve as catalysts, including bullying, betrayal, revenge porn, porn culture, alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, rape, and suicide.

Watch it. Talk to them.

Reiterate that Hannah did NOT have to make the choice to kill herself. She lost hope that it would get better and she wanted to escape her pain. Point out the devastation caused to everyone who loved her. Remind them they would be loved and missed. Take the romantic notion out of it.

Explain what they ought to do if they find themselves in any kind of trouble. Establish a system for you to be able to support them. Do they need a ride home from a party? What if it’s a party they weren’t supposed to be at in the first place? How can you eliminate their fear of disappointing you, of punishment when they’ve made a poor choice? How can they rely on you as an ally? EVEN WHEN THEY MAKE A MISTAKE?

And, let’s not forget the importance of understanding that how we behave affects other people, who also have feelings, who also struggle. Minor things don’t seem so minor to the person who is currently floundering and losing hope. A snarky comment here and there may be acceptable at times, but one day, it just might be the last straw. We owe it to ourselves, to our children, to be more compassionate and careful with our own behavior toward others.

We must watch for the signs of despair, despondency, apathy, listlessness. In our children. In ourselves. In others.

Be proactive. Be aware. Be present.

Love, protect, nurture.

Let’s give them 13 Reasons Why they want to live.

Mama Bear vs. Pornography: You Owe Your Children the Truth

I disagree that pornography (and its repercussions) is the new drug.

These issues have been escalating for decades, only now smart phones and easy access to the internet have exponentially increased the availability of sexually explicit material. It’s relevant to the point that WE HAVE ASSEMBLIES AT SCHOOL TO TALK ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY.

Let that sink in.

[ Please read this article – if you’re a parent, if you’re a teenager, if you’re in a relationship affected by pornography. ]

This is complicated. It’s rampant. And it’s gravely affecting the opportunities for intimacy in relationships in the future. Having sex, or participating in sexual activities BEFORE kissing?? There is no natural progression of a relationship… remember when you’d get all giddy because you held hands for the first time? Got your first kiss? Oooh, or french kissed?

Our children are learning (through an illusion) that girls are supposed to look hot and sexy, while boys get their jollies. They’re all learning that females are objects to satisfy male’s lust. And just about everything they are seeing reinforces this… they think it’s NORMAL.

And unfortunately, that culture spreads into other areas of life.

Consider a future where dating is obsolete. Hooking up is the standard.

Consider how this affects the possibility of creating healthy relationships. How does marriage look when men feel they are entitled to an All You Can Eat buffet with constantly changing dishes? What about the wife who painfully learns that nobody wants to eat the same meal at home every night?

Sexuality is a BEAUTIFUL gift.

As a mother, I want my children to anticipate this wonderful, complex, dynamic experience. I hope they learn self-confidence and empowerment, as well as how to appreciate another human being for more than the physical attributes that are being glorified in porn culture.

My heart hurts at the thought of my daughters being treated as objects, at the thought of my son missing out on LOVE and connection.

It’s our job as parents to teach them. I’m choosing the approach of warning my children about the dangers associated with pornography. It’s tricky, though. Because how we approach the subject affects how they will absorb the information. It has to be a frank discussion, without dogma. Lust and addiction don’t respond well to moral lectures.

The images create nearly impossible standards for our girls to live up to (believe me, I’ve felt my own inadequacy acutely)… competition, comparison… it’s damaging to their self-esteem, to their entire self-concept. I want them to know they are valued for their intelligence, creativity, spunk, quirks, hopes, dreams. They have so much more to offer than BODY PARTS.

Our boys need to know that while the images are scintillating, they are ILLUSORY. The choreography is misleading. Tell them: Women do not exist to satisfy your lust, to give you pleasure.

They need to know that this fantasy realm they are viewing is missing some of the greatest experiences that life has to offer: connection, vulnerability, intimacy, reciprocity.

They need to know that the sensations coursing through their body are addictive, that it may seem harmless and everyone is doing it, but it can quickly become a habit that can turn into an addiction that has dire future consequences… that it can cost them the opportunity to have a healthy, intimate relationship in the future.

They need to know there are powerful, emotional, blissful, ecstatic experiences available to them. That sex can be so much more than hollow visuals.

If we don’t tell them, how will they know?

HOPE

[preface: one of my little brother’s closest friends committed suicide a couple of weeks ago. Trying to make sense of it, I wrote what I’m sharing here with you. The names have been changed to protect privacy. When it comes to suicide, it’s a universal experience of horrific loss… it could be any of your friend’s or family member’s names in this post.]

I’ve been trying to comfort Jason tonight. Talking just so he can have something else to focus on for a brief respite from the emotional pain. Reminding him of the truths in the situation, pulling him back out of the abyss that the ego tries to convince is “real”.

He could get lost in his grief and despair.

I really don’t know what else I can do in this moment.

Letting Jason fall to pieces in a safe place (with me) is a gift I can give him. He doesn’t have to be brave or strong for me. He’ll have to do that for everyone else, as he tries to show up for the family, for their circle of friends.

I’m reminding him of the importance of taking care of himself – that he must force himself to eat, to sleep, to do the minimum for his own good – because he cannot show up for everyone else with an empty cup. We nourish from our overflow, and though he has no appetite and sleep is elusive… he has to find a way to fill up his cup.

I’m reminding him that he was Ryan’s closest friend, that he gave him excellent advice, showed up for him, listened to him. I’m reminding him that he knows of despair, darkness, thoughts of self harm. That he knows what it’s like to feel distraught and lose the ability to think clearly.

But, most importantly that Ryan made this choice, and it rests solely on his shoulders.

Jason knew Ryan was troubled. He knew he was struggling to fight off the dark thoughts that were starting to suffocate him. Everyone close to Ryan knew it. They reminded him constantly of their love for him.

This wasn’t about lack of love.

It was lack of HOPE.

Hope.

An ever shining optimistic outlook.

A mindset.

The belief that there is always something on the horizon, that things could change for the better in any given moment, that there is magic afoot.

Hope is a drug. A sensation. A way of life.

It can be contagious.

It can be shared, sprinkled.

But, no one can manufacture it for another.

You have it.

Or.

You don’t.

And when you don’t, life is a much less sparkly place.


I’m awe struck at these realizations regarding hope.

I have hope.

I am hope-full. I am full of hope.

External conditions beyond my control must snuff out all potential for goodness before I will start to lose hope.

That flicker of a candle that burns within me lights the way to see possibility, future outcomes, improvement, growth. To EVERY good thing.

I forget that others don’t have this eternal sunshine within.

Wait, that’s not true.

I didn’t forget.

I didn’t know.

I can barely fathom a life without intrinsic hope.

Imagining it, though, gives me a glimpse into how Ryan must have been feeling when he decided leaving was a better option than what he was presently facing.


I now wonder how you could possibly GIVE hope to someone else.

Is it like a lighthouse?

Is it the overflowing cup?

Is it a pep talk that you deliver with passion and enthusiasm, imbued with good will and the unavoidable attachment to the outcome of your efforts? Your hope that you instilled hope?

Hope is personal.

It’s private.

Sacred.

When you have it, it shines light into the dark corners within where your doubts and fears dwell.

Hope illuminates.

Life without hope is dull. Faded. Empty. Sad.


It’s lonely.

And I can’t help but think of me and Jason.

I have hope.

He does not.

I’ve tried to give him mine, but it doesn’t work.

He’d have to get his own.

I’m now even more curious to discover how you could go about finding someone else’s hope for them.

“Look over here, here it is. It’s your hope, Jason. Yay!”

Nope.

Could you help them find it?

Light the wick for them?

Teach them how to protect the tiny flicker before defaulting to the ingrained habit of immediately blowing it out?

Show them what it looks like when you fan it into a blazing inferno that drives you toward all the best things in life? You know… like success, happiness, love.

I hope I figure it out.

Accidental Advocate for the Underdog

Occasionally, I find myself getting all riled up about some kind of public issue. Usually it has to do with inequality or defense of a perceived underdog. Two years ago, I went to bat against our school district because they were throwing children’s lunches away after the student had gone through the line, gotten a tray, and discovered there wasn’t money on their account. Taking a tray and dumping it in the garbage in front of the child is a horrific practice and fortunately, through the channels of social media, and due process, the school district’s policy was effectively changed.

That’s when I started calling myself an accidental advocate. Because, in all honesty, I never know ahead of time when a specific issue is going to stoke a passionate response within me. I’m super chill on most things that go on, but… if the universe conspires at exactly the right moment, I’ll jump in and raise some hell in an effort to ensure that the rights of the minority are preserved and protected.

This latest pet project has been the lifting of a restriction on the sale of liquor on Sundays in my little town. In my mind, it’s such an easy cut-and-dry problem and solution. To put it simply, we have outdated ordinances in our city code, and when our leaders are made aware of them, they are responsible for correcting the errors. But, in this area, there is a strong religious majority, and even though it appears to be a clear violation of separation of church and State, there continues to be strong resistance to removing the Sunday exclusion.

I care.

I care enough to get involved, to speak up.

I’ve joined and started discussions on Facebook, attended city council meetings, written letters to the editor. I even live tweeted the last meeting and wrote a stinging rebuttal to the Mayor when he posted inflammatory and inaccurate remarks on his public Facebook page.

All the while, observing my brain in action, wondering WHY does this particular issue get me fired up. Why did I hunker down to invest time and energy in researching thoroughly the topics at hand? I now know more about Blue Laws, Prohibition, advisory votes, the procedures for passing a city ordinance, and alcohol regulation than I ever intended to know. I’m thrilled that I am still able to use the skills I learned in my Junior Honors English class back in high school to research a topic and present it in an organized manner.

And present my findings, I did! I even got up to speak at the City Council meeting. I’m compelled by the need to present valid, factual information to offset the emotional, fear-based statements coming from those opposed to making changes. I’m driven by the black and whiteness of the issue and the sad reality that many in my community are not interested in moving forward, in being progressive, in allowing others their own freedom to choose – they would rather impose their belief system on the entire community.

It’s maddening, I tell ya.

I even got into it a little bit with my best friend from high school. She was miffed that I pointed at religion, asking me not to place blame there as it was unfair. I explained that when the exclusion exists only on Sunday, with the original intention of encouraging the people to observe the Sabbath day, and that the only reason it hasn’t been corrected is because of the religious majority in my town who want to legislate morality, it is not blame… it is a root cause.

I may have to go to her again and explain that this particular subject was discussed inside the church, on a Sunday, during church services, where members were specifically encouraged to attend last night’s meeting, and some were even coached on what to say! This counts as religious involvement, don’t you think? Also, it’s interesting to note that the Mayor, one of the council members and 4 of the public speakers all happen to be in the same congregation. This is not a coincidence. It is evidence of the religious majority intending to impose their beliefs on the rest of the community.

This ^ is what grinds my gears – a concerted effort, by a collective, to “maintain standards” for an entire community. This is grossly unfair.

Which apparently motivates me to speak up.

I’m also inspired to reach out to more of the people in my community who are not part of the religious majority, as well as to those inside the group machine who recognize this issue for what it is (essentially a non-issue for 99% of the population) to rally a united front to challenge the status quo. There is most certainly strength in numbers. We see it every day in our small community, as it is regularly used to dictate choices for us. I would love to see this strength used for the highest and best of all affected, but alas, it is not.

And if I can’t get what I’m after, I would at least like to understand better. I’ve asked countless questions from the opposition, only to be met with vacant eyes or an automated response that the city council isn’t listening to the people. Beyond that, there is no additional critical thinking. There are no solid, justifiable reasons for opposing updating the ordinance.

I know because I looked for them.

I asked, researched, contemplated.

Most of the opposition are absolutely unaffected by this change. One thing to consider is that I am also unaffected by this change. I don’t advocate for this because I want to go buy a drink at a bar on Sunday. I am the equivalent of nearly all of the opposition: completely unaffected by the change, yet fighting passionately for my desired outcome.

The burning question that remains is, “if this doesn’t affect you personally, then why do you have such a strong emotional response to it?”

And that, that right there, is question with a response I’d love to hear.

Fight Like Hell To Reclaim Your Personal Independence

 Personal IndependenceWhen I think of the Fourth of July, I am flooded with happy memories of parades, picnics, and fireworks displays. But, when I hear the phrase, “Independence Day”, I am always reminded of the country song by Martina McBride, which brings up an entirely different set of memories and associated emotions. This song tells the story of a young girl whose mother eventually tires of being abused, to the point that she takes matters in to her own hands, resulting in a rather tragic ending.

 

This tragic story hits close to home.

I once lost my personal independence and had to fight like hell to get it back.

As a woman whose life has been touched by an abusive relationship, I look back on my experience with a sense of detachment – it’s almost like watching a dramatic movie on the Lifetime channel, only I have to continually remind myself that I was the woman getting dragged down the hallway by my hair. Not only was I the main character, I was also the actress playing that role. It’s surreal.

Prior to entering this toxic relationship, I had what I considered to be a solid set of rules for what I would and would not put with from a partner. My set of rules was based on a naïve sense of judgment about how the world works. Unfortunately, since no one had ever treated me poorly, I did not recognize any of the warning signs until I was already in way over my head.

I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent, independent, and strong-willed woman, but I still fell prey to a partner who was supposed to love and cherish me, yet mistreated me whenever he felt like he was losing control of a situation. My ‘normal’ character steadily eroded over a couple of years, to the point that I couldn’t see myself clearly anymore. I couldn’t find a solution to my problem… my willpower was gone, and along with it, my self-esteem disappeared, too.

Knowing how inconsequential I felt during that time period, I have high respect for every woman who finds herself in a similar situation and is able to fight for her personal independence.

It truly is a battle … not only with an external foe, but also an internal one. In an abusive relationship, you give your power away. Perhaps not intentionally, but it is what it is. You give it, he takes it, and an extremely unhealthy dynamic is born.

Got a friend who has given away her personal independence?

If you are on the outside looking in… your friend may seem like an entirely different person than she used to be!

Quit judging. Unless you’ve been in this psychological nightmare of a situation, you have no possible way of understanding how difficult it can be to maneuver with any sense of clarity, direction, or purpose. The goal is survival.

Quit taking anything personally. Her inability to make a plan with you and stick to it has nothing to do with the quality of your friendship. She simply doesn’t trust that life will be calm and smooth enough for her to get out, have some fun, etc.

If she doesn’t return your calls, again, don’t take it personal. But, do… yes, do go check on her. Trust your intuition, and if it’s telling you something seems off, TRUST IT.

Personal Independence QuoteDon’t lecture her. She’s going to quit talking to you about what is really going on in her life – she’s embarrassed by her situation, and she already has an idea that you don’t approve, that you’ll give her a lecture… and she doesn’t want to hear it, can’t, actually. Escaping her current nightmare is a fantasy that she doesn’t quite dare to visit…

 

Remind her that she is a strong, amazing, talented, person and that she can do anything she sets her mind to.

She doesn’t want to disappoint you by staying in an unhealthy situation. She doesn’t want to admit to you that she is confused because she knows she deserves something better, but she loves him, and can’t imagine life without him.

Hold up. These are HIS projections playing out as real thoughts and feelings for her.

She’s already beating herself up with these recurring thoughts: I know better. I deserve better.

But something, usually it’s him, whispers non-stop in her ear, “you aren’t good enough… you can’t do this without me… nobody else will ever want you…” constantly flaunting any perceived weakness in her face as a tool to keep her feeling worthless.

Reclaim your personal independence

Sadly, it sometimes takes a crisis of some kind before we’ll take strong and swift action. If you are the one in the abusive and dysfunctional relationship, read on, sister. This next part is for you.

Personal Independence journeyNecessary Steps to Re-Gain Your Personal Independence
  • Commitment – no wishy washy, half-hearted antics will do.
  • Unconditional Love (for the Self!) – Taking care of YOU has to come before you are worth a damn to anyone else.
  • Separation – You must put distance between you. Get away from him.
  • Cutting of the ties that bind – Even with physical space, you’ll still have energetic ties. Cut them. Repeatedly.
  • Legal protection – If required, get a restraining order or some kind of civil protection.

Your next steps:

  • Celebrate the little successes
  • Take your power back
  • Forgive him – come to understand the mechanisms in place that allowed him to feel so emotionally chaotic… this gives you insight that allows you to let go of the notion that it’s your fault and that you deserved it. You didn’t.
  • Forgive yourself
  • Let go of any desire for justice
  • Let go of any notion that he will change, and it will get better
  • Move on – take your lessons learned and rejoice in the confidence that you’ll recognize red flags next time…

Healing is required. You’ve got an adjustment period to process through as you transition from fight or flight all the time to a steady, peaceful, and harmonious lifestyle.

One more useful tidbit – Understand that you have got to get your life together before you date or consider dating… the next guy will most likely get punished for the wrongdoing this other guy has done… not cool. It is imperative that you pause and take time to nurture yourself back to confidence in your personal independence as the number one priority!

In every town and city, there are resources for domestic violence – there is no shame in reaching out for help. Chances are, on your path to independence, you’ll have to accept help from friends, family, and even strangers along the way.


Because I am on the other side looking back, all the indicators of a toxic and abusive relationship are easy to spot. I am filled with empathy and compassion for every woman who finds herself stuck in this crummy situation.

I have faith that it is possible to reclaim your personal independence and to eradicate this parasitic relationship from your life… and move on to bigger, better, lovelier things.


If you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help… before it’s too late.
If you know someone who is, do not abandon them, even if you lose your patience and you have trouble understanding the choices they are making.

To those who have made it, let’s take some extra pleasure today in celebrating our very own private and personal independence day.

I Vow To Stop People Pleasing!

I have a confession. I’m full of shit.

Which really bothers me. In fact, it bothers me so much that I haven’t published a single blog post in nine months.

And it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. I do. I just haven’t wanted to pretend. Pretending is boring. Suffocating.

You see, over at Butterfly Maiden, I get to share with you my spiritual, self-awareness-driven Self. I speak about topics that are close to my heart, compelled by an innate urge to be of assistance to those who are traveling the path of personal transformation. I know from experience that it can be a lonely journey, and I believe it’s comforting to have encouragement, support, guidance and help along the way.

Previously, I’ve bought into the belief that I must present myself a certain way in order to appeal to the masses. To that end, I have taken my online persona very seriously, believing that I must present myself as a wise, wholesome, beacon of light at all times.

And though this is a version of me that exists, I’m not radiating Goddess awesome all the time. It’s true. Sometimes, I’m just a girl in a t-shirt who eats meat, watches sports, listens to rock n roll, and enjoys irreverence and profanity.

stop people pleasing

So, what’s the problem?

I have admittedly pre-judged your ability to see and accept an integrated version of me. I’ve worried that my ridiculosity will cause you to second-guess my ability to help you so I only let you see the carefully composed been-meditating-for-hours-and-everything-truly-is-butterflies-and-rainbows version.

But, here’s the thing. My well behaved online persona is a mask with specific definitions of what I can or can’t say. And, as boring as it feels to me at times, it serves a purpose:

To help the highest number of people like me.

Yep, it’s a people pleasing mechanism.

And I know it.

And I loathe it.

You don’t know how often I want to share something that absolutely delights me — whether it’s off-the-cuff humor or awe-striking inspiration — but I don’t… because it may contain profanity or mildly controversial topics.

I protect my “image” by not sharing what I sincerely find appealing and/or enlightening. I protect my reputation by censoring my writing — daring to barely push buttons with choice of words and topics.

All the while thinking, “I wish I could say _____________” or more accurately, “I’m so pissed I can’t really say ____________”.

Angel vs. Devil?

These two dramatically different versions of moi are both important to me.

In person, I’m much more likely to show you an integrated version. We’ll talk about serious things like the importance of being self-centered in between giggle fits brought on by innuendo. (I can seriously turn the most benign comment into a dirty joke!) But, online, while preaching authenticity, I expend much effort in protecting my rowdy, ridiculous and rambunctious self.

I do this because I’m afraid. (Remember emotions don’t have to make sense, so just follow me here.) I’m afraid of:

– judgment.
– alienation.
– getting unfriended on Facebook.

(I’m being honest here, so wipe that smirk off your face.)

Here’s a recent example:

I read an article that had a profound effect on me: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Not only was it incredibly inspirational, but it also was full of profanity and in-your-face “I don’t care if you like this or not”. I felt jealous of the author, Mark Manson, who freely expresses himself. I laughed so hard that tears were streaming down my face and as per usual, I felt compelled to share with everyone else because they deserve to have this fabulous experience, too!

But, the thought of sharing with the world left me paralyzed… frozen in fear at the thought of other people’s opinion of me.

You bet I shared the fantastic article with my close friends — those who I’m confident know me and accept me just the way I am. Somehow these people see past the dichotomy of my two selves and love the integrated parts of me that are just as capable of dropping an “F” bomb in the midst of a meditation as offering healing to a complete stranger suffering from PTSD whom I’ve just met at a dive bar.

I couldn’t share it on my social media channels for fear of the judgment of people who:

  • more than likely won’t read my stuff in the first place
  • already don’t know me or understand me, and don’t even care to
  • would express their disapproval by withdrawing their love, affection, friendship

The thought of sharing caused me to panic.

Because “people” would see it and view it as a reflection of me.
Um.
Yikes.

What’s wrong with this picture? It IS a reflection of me.

Hypocrisy ring a bell?

How can I preach taking off the masks, how awesome authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability are when I’m hiding behind an intended-to-please-the-greatest-number-of-people persona?

It’s downright hypocritical.

I claim to be a former People Pleaser.
That’s not true. I’m a RECOVERING People Pleaser who still relapses into old patterns.

Still.

Two weeks ago, I was yammering on about something and I said, “if you want to be seen completely, you have to show up completely.” I heard those words come out of my mouth and just started shaking my head slowly.

One of my greatest desires is to be seen in my totality. I want people to see the real me. And I long to give that in return.

It’s time for me to start showing up as who I really am — even when I’m just a shit-talking girl in a t-shirt.

I know that as I reveal more of what lurks behind my online persona mask, it could cost me… the approval of those who already judge me for thinking and behaving differently than they expect. Interestingly enough, it’s these same people who made it so difficult for me to leave the faith of my family, to leave a marriage, to break free from the roles they had assigned me and expected me to play…

AND I’M CATERING TO THEM BECAUSE WHY?

Oh yeah, because my default mode is still people pleasing. I want to be liked.

And learning how to implement the art of non-fuck-giving may be a life long journey.

I’m finally finished debating the ramifications of the decision to be MORE real online. What I’ve discovered is that overwhelmingly, the people who love my integrated self already will love me even more for not holding back. And the people who don’t love integrated me, well, they will have a justifiable reason (at least in their minds) for disconnecting.

If that offends you, go ahead. Unfriend me. Unsubscribe from my blog, from my mailing list. Unfollow me.

Help me make room for those who will celebrate my personal authenticity… who will laugh with me, while pondering the great mysteries of the universe… who will dedicate time to meditating, and later that evening might accidentally drink too much wine and make fools of themselves playing air guitar while lip syncing their favorite Journey song.

I don’t want to alienate. I also don’t want to offend. But, more than that, I don’t want to continually censor myself to appeal to the greatest number of people anymore.

I want to be seen completely, therefore, I must show up completely.


I’m far from perfect, people. I’m still befriending the meanie in the back of my head who talks shit to me all the time. But, quirks and ridiculosity aside, I am pretty damn good at what I do — which is creating a safe place for YOU to explore who you are, who you want to be… and then helping you get there.

If you are paralyzed by other people’s expectations and opinions, know that I understand what you’re going through. I am still living here… steadily fighting my way through it, taking back one fuck at a time.

It’s possible. It feels good.

Except for the scary parts.

They suck.


Originally published at www.butterfly-maiden.com on January 12, 2015. And then published again at Medium.com on September 20, 2016. And then I decided to use it here on my own blog today. Because it’s relevant here for what I’m about to unleash.