Have you seen “Nanette”, by Hannah Gadsby? If you haven’t, you should. Hannah is a comedian, but her show is not just a comedy stand up act. It’s a powerful one woman show that will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will make you gasp in shock.
I am not going to review it here, because that is not what I do. Let’s just say that I found it to be the most powerful show I’ve ever seen. The most powerful example of a strong woman I’ve ever seen and I want everyone to see it.
And it made me think. What if everyone was as honest as Hannah? As me? What if we all showed our uglies to the world around us? And I don’t mean standing on multiple stages around the world, but even just to our friends and family? To our clients and colleagues? What would really happen?
What are we so scared of?
We’re scared of no longer being liked. We’re scared of being mocked. We’re scared of losing everyone’s respect. We’re scared of people not accepting us as we truly are.
But look at what’s happening to Hannah. Look at what’s happening to women who have spoken out in the #metoo campaign. Look at what happened to Tracey Spicer.
They are being lauded for being brave. I am constantly told I am brave for sharing publicly here and on Facebook what’s really going on in my live and how I’m really feeling.
Is there a certain element among the population who might mock us and laugh at us and lose respect for us? Undoubtedly. But I honestly want nothing to do with those people. I don’t value the opinion of those people. And neither should you.
But I know that’s easier said than done. I’m sure that the trolls and haters that plague the lives of the outspoken people out there make it very hard for them to keep their truths shown.
And yet, I truly believe that a world where we are ALL unafraid to show our truths, to share our lives as they truly are, would be a kinder and gentler one. If we were ALL brave enough to show out insides, not just our outsides, we would have so much more compassion for each other.
To be honest, when people call me “brave” for what I write here and on Facebook, I kind of look at them strangely, because I don’t understand.
What is brave about sharing myself as I am?
Maybe this is my Polish heritage coming out, or my autism, but I’ve always been open and honest about who I am and what I’m feeling with everyone I’ve met. (At least I am online, if not in person.)
I’ve learnt to be more Anglo and add more distance to my relationships with people, as I’ve become more accustomed to how things are done here in Australia, but I don’t think I can ever fully overcome the bluntness and directness in my communication from my formative years. No, I might not ask you how much you earn, or how much your car cost (something my Polish relatives asked me as soon as I landed in Poland for my first return visit in 1994), but I will share freely how things are with me at any given moment and I will ask quite direct questions about your family, your relationship and your job. Maybe not as much these days, but these certainly used to be the hallmarks of my conversations back in my teens and twenties.
And these Polish traits, this tendency to be upfront with what’s happening for me, leads down very dangerous paths when it comes to comparisonitis. I still assume that everyone else is the same and it takes a lot of intellectual acrobatics for me to understand that I’m in fact comparing my insides to everybody else’s outsides. And I rage against it. I don’t understand why everyone else hides their insides. I can see so clearly how much better off we would all be if we shared ourselves warts and all, but I can’t seem to convince anybody. And it’s hard for me to share my insides with your in person, when all you’re showing me are your outsides.
That’s why I was so overwhelmed by “Nanette”. Here comes an award winning one woman show, urging us all to share out insides. To share our shame. To share our stories. I felt like, finally, there was someone else, someone who others were going to listen to, who had the same message as me.
I began sharing my shame here almost 10 years ago. The shame of my husband leaving me. The shame, as I found out later, of him leaving me for another woman. The shame of my husband being in jail. The shame of a police raid on my suburban home. The shame of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The shame of mental illness. The shame of hating motherhood. The shame of admitting that my life would have been better of without children.
You’ve been here with me every step of the way. I’ve received maybe one or two negative comments in all this time, but all the other ones here and on Facebook have been supportive and so many of them have been of the “me, too” and “thank you for showing me I’m not alone” variety.
We need to speak our truths. We need to share our stories. We need to share our shame. It’s only when we share it, that we build shame resilience. Read any of Brene Brown’s work for confirmation of this.
I have a whole other post in my drafts folder on belonging. How I feel that I don’t, because I don’t know how to share my insides with anyone any more. Nobody on Facebook listens. Hardly anyone comments on the blog and I don’t know how to show them in person. Apart from the online world, I have maybe one person in my life with whom I can share my insides. Maybe two now. And it’s hard feeling so isolated. I almost feel invisible. If it wasn’t for my kids, I might fade away.
I don’t have beautiful outsides either. My life isn’t styled for Instagram perfection, my kids hate their photos taken, we’re too poor and I’m too tired to ever go out and do anything. And it seems that unless your outsides are Instagram perfect nobody sees you these days. But I am here. Ugly insides and all.
Do you see me?
Also published on Medium.