I’m reading Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly”, for the second time because there is so much to learn from Brené’s research. I’m about half way through the book and I keep coming back to a wonderful section in Chapter 2. In this section of the book, Brené discusses vulnerability myths and betrayal. She notes:
“I’m talking about the betrayal of disengagement. Of not caring. Of letting the connection go. Of not being willing to devote time and effort to the relationship. The word betrayal evokes experiences of cheating, lying, breaking a confidence, failing to defend us to someone else who’s gossiping about us, and not choosing us over other people. These behaviors are certainly betrayals, but they’re not the only form of betrayal. If I had to chose the form of betrayal that emerged most frequently from my research and that was the most dangerous in terms of corroding the trust connection, I would say disengagement.
When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing, and stop fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in. Disengagement triggers shame and our greatest fears — the fear of being abandoned, unworthy, and unloveable. What can make this covert betrayal so much more dangerous than something like a lie or an affair is that we can’t point to the source of our pain — there’s no event, no obvious evidence of brokenness. It can feel crazy-making.”
I keep coming back to these two paragraphs because it sums up something I’m experiencing in my personal life. I won’t go into the details because it isn’t appropriate. I will say that experience involves my family and right now people I love — including me — are hurt, sad, and feel betrayed.
Today, I’m trying to keep my heart open and to live by my values. And those values include acting from a place of kindness and compassion, rather than anger. From my perspective, the conflict is a result of complete disengagement. On the surface it seems easier to hide from difficult conversations and to stop talking completely. But I think that kind of behavior can be more hurtful because you’re more likely to hold onto anger, resentment, and feel betrayed. And as Brené noted, betrayal can cause people to feel unworthy and unloveable.
Yesterday, I was telling Logan’s Grandma that the past year has been incredible. My first print book came out, I’m teaching ecourses and we moved closer to family. All of those things make me happy. On the other hand, if you had told me five years ago that my dad wouldn’t be here and that my family would be experiencing upheaval, I would have said that you were crazy. It’s funny how happiness and loss are so intertwined.
Tomorrow, I turn 34 years old and I’ve learned three key lessons over the past year, including:
1. Life is uncertain and if you want to be happy it’s essential to listen, to be flexible, and to keep your heart open.
2. Loss is painful and inevitable. Yet, you can find joy and happiness even in the midst of suffering.
3. You have to ask for help and engage if you are going to survive loss.
As I move forward into the next year, I’m going to engage, be present in each moment, and honor my dad’s life by living my values.