Authentic living and burning my boat

My deepest longing has always been to live an authentic life true to myself so that I can connect with others on a deep level.  It’s obviously hard though as fears and comforts get in the way.  A lot has changed since my last post (more on what I have been discovering in future posts), but if the goal is to be real I guess it’s time to start now.  

I am feeling really raw and vulnerable.  One of my life goals has been to live a life true to myself and to help others do the same.  I have also been on a journey to find true intimacy and connection in a world where I have always felt this sense of aloneness since I was a little kid.  I have read books on vulnerability and practiced being vulnerable in the world and yet I was never really ready to take the leap into the messy unknown.  I was never really ready to let my true self be seen by others.  I wasn’t ready to tolerate the discomfort of asking for what I really desire from others and from life.  At some point, however, life gets challenging and the price to stay small and safe seems costlier than the price of coming home to oneself.  I kind of feel like I am at that point right now.  

The fact of the matter is I am scared.  I am not sure how I will make a living in the coming months.  I have had the unique opportunity of studying many different healing modalities over the years while I have been struggling to regain my mental health, yet I have no idea how to turn it into the coaching career that I long for.  I have learned enough and I know I have the skills, yet I feel afraid.  I really want to help people on their own healing journeys.  I feel a sense of sadness creeping in. I feel some of the overwhelm and the feelings of existential aloneness that kept me small and on the couch before.  

Something is different this time though.  I think I am willing to choose authenticity and feeling alive and the potential for genuine human connection over what I think other people want to hear and see.  I want to choose freedom over what I think others want to know about me.  The reality is I have no clue what I am doing.  I am 33 and have no idea how to make it in the world and to make a living on my own.  As I write this I see the privilege in all of this.  My parents are giving me a couple of months (maybe) before I have to move out and fend for myself.  All my fears of being alone in the world and being abandoned and not being able to handle life on my own and never being able to make a living are coming up.  In the past I would have hid these from the world and myself.  I would have been too afraid of what others would think of me.  However, I know that’s not going to help myself or anyone.  

The idea of this blog going forward is to be really honest about where I am at and what I have learned from my own experience that I hope will help some people.  At the same time, if I am being honest, I hope in some way that this writing will somehow help me make a living as a coach.  I really want to help people connect.  I would love to help people get over the blocks that keep them small and keep them waiting to live authentic lives.  There is so much mental and emotional pain in the world and there are tools to work with it.  It’s not always easy work but the gift is a fuller life with more connection.  We can have that.  I want to help people to find that in some small way.  I have no idea how that will happen though, but I have lots of ideas.

I have some other thoughts going through my mind… What does it mean to coach people if you are still at home with your parents?  Does that disqualify you from helping people?  Do I really have to have everything figured out before I can start helping people in the world?  This last question was a limiting belief I have had for decades that maybe isn’t needed anymore.  Do I really have to be the world’s greatest expert before taking action or can I trust my own unique experience and ability to figure it out?

There is a funny thing about being authentic in that it builds a trust in life.  It offers a freedom that no matter what happens at least one is living true to oneself and one’s story and one’s values.  And… I guess I am deciding that that’s more important than not experiencing the difficult emotions that come with vulnerability and moving into uncertain waters.  

In the past I lived “honestly” but only the kind where you share about yourself to include a narrow scope of your experience that leaves the really messy stuff out. That’s not honesty- I know!   I loved to share the parts of my life that I thought people will accept and just hold back on the other parts.  I would just stuff down the parts I was ashamed.  This would create more and more shame.  I get the whole idea about sharing one’s story with people who have earned the right to hear it, and that’s important, and I am super grateful to the amazing work of Brene Brown.   Maybe, however, there is something important about sharing my story as if I have earned the right to be enough no matter what.  What if I trusted myself enough to share the difficult and messy parts of myself knowing that I could tolerate whatever happens next?   That’s the real freedom and vulnerability I think.  

With my life at a crossroads a lot of the games start to fall away.  I was doing an exercise today about my greatest fear and it’s really that I am alone in this world and that I will die having never truly connected intimately with others and the world.  In order to connect intimately one has to share oneself, the light and the dark.   I don’t want to die having only lived sharing the parts of myself that were safe and abandoning all of the messier parts.  I really want to coach people and I have no clue how. It’s time to embrace those beautiful parts of longing and fear.  I have no idea how I will make a living and I don’t know if others will find that that invalidates me from having anything helpful to offer or if being real resonates with people.  I guess I am willing to find out.  I know that I have something to offer, I just need to figure out how to do it.  

I want to be free.  Free to be my authentic self and trust life again like when I was a little, little boy.  I don’t want to let the little narrator in my mind that censors my speech based on what it thinks others will deem as “acceptable” or “right” or “good” have the last word.   I don’t want to be a “good, nice person” anymore.  I want to live according to values that I have consciously chosen.  I don’t want to censor my true beliefs , longings, desires, emotions, insights, interests, feelings, worries, loves, joys etc.  It’s really not worth it anymore.  By not being true to myself I am killing off the opportunity for true authentic connection with others who want the same thing.  I am squandering my unique gifts.  

Maybe I am just completely naive? It’s possible but it’s worth finding out I think.  

I am reminded of this chapter in the book “Cured’ by Jeffrey Rediger (fascinating book by the way- one of the best books I have read this year).  The chapter is titled “Burn your Boat” or something to that effect.  The book is about people who have had spontaneous remissions from otherwise incurable diseases.  After outlining a number of different commonalities among these remarkable survivors, Rediger talks about the importance of burning your boat.  Eventually people in these dire predicaments felt there was nothing left to lose so they did everything possible.  To heal they couldn’t just do a little bit.  They had to just go all in ! They had to try everything and try to become an N of 1.  It didn’t matter if no one had recovered before, they were going to try everything.  I think that’s a really good way to live.  This is the way of living life as if you’re on the shore of a new island and the boat that brought you there is burning. There is no going back.  

I think back to 6.5 years ago when I was so unwell and even a couple years before that when I spent basically my whole life in my head obsessing.  The pain was horrible.  Even last year the panic that was under the OCD was terribly difficult and probably the worst experience of my life.  24/7 panic.   However, I learned something from it.  I had to try to make sense of my life and how to heal.  In these past few months I have learned more about healing which I will share on the blog and hopefully soon post an outline that integrates many of the healing modalities I have studied and worked with.  

It’s time to start living my truth no matter what and hopefully inspiring others to do the same while taking a peek at what gets in the way.  I hope that this and upcoming posts can be helpful in your journey of befriending the difficulties in life and moving towards a life of meaning .  For me that starts with ending the self betrayal.  I have always wanted to do some sort of coaching.  I remember being in sophomore year of high school and desperately wanting to connect more with my peers but just didn’t know how.  I would daydream about some group coaching program I would create to help high school boys connect with their peers including girls that they wanted to connect romantically with.  I was already thinking of helping people with anxiety back then but I was too scared to own my story.  I wanted to be working as the world’s greatest coach before I admitted to anyone that that’s what I wanted to do.  All these years later I have never really owned it.  This could be because I never trusted myself enough to think that it was possible and I never wanted to tell others about anything unless I was sure I could do it or had already done it.  Well i guess this changes that.  

Here is to an interesting few weeks and months.  Be well and trust yourself! 

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