“If someone backs away when you speak your truth…let them.”
~ Jennifer Posada
“some people, when they hear your story, contract. others, upon hearing your story, expand. and this is how you know.”
~ nayyirah waheed
I am going to tell you a great secret…
In this world it is unlikely that you can be true to yourself without making some people pull away from you.
They might do it by simply withdrawing, or by outright abandoning you in a moment of need. They might do it quietly or they might do it angrily, shouting and pointing fingers as they back away. It might be very important for them to shame you before they go. Or they might shame you until you leave.
While that’s a good one, that isn’t the great secret. The great one, though it is something you already know deep inside and have probably heard before, is that you really are so much better off letting them go. Assess your heart, and if you do not feel you have acted in a way out of accordance with your values, truth, and inner knowing, then flagrantly let them go. Let them go the way birds let go of the sun when it sets. Do not think it is your fault.
It is your blessing.
You probably think I am making it sound too easy. I know that it isn’t. I know that sometimes it rips you apart as you feel like you are watching the most important connections you may have ever had slip away to the bottom of a cloudy sea. And yes, without a doubt, you also need to know when to reach out and grab the connection. When to fight for it. When to jump in and swim as hard as you can. When to save a life.
But your own life is on the line sometimes if you don’t let go of the people who cannot love you well. It’s not all or nothing, of course. Sometimes someone doesn’t know how to love you and you just create enough distance that their random arrows can’t hit you. But know this…to be authentic continually, you will be faced with times you need to speak your truth. And some people won’t respond well. Maybe later that night they will reconsider, and reconcile. But some will not.
Some will even keep the story that you treated them badly…that you were out of line, inconsiderate, demanded too much, or gave too little. If you have searched your heart and you truly don’t concur, you can only let go. They can keep their story. It is theirs. What matters most in this whole wide world, is that you don’t keep it.
If you keep other people’s skewed stories about you, your light dims. Your burden grows. And you can’t give all the beauty you have to give in the world as freely.
There is a recipe for being liked and accepted all the time, and it is simply to never make waves, never ask for what you deserve, never expect respect or much of anything else, and basically just never speak up. It is also a recipe for disaster. An inner disaster that slowly takes over your life.
I have had than my share of shaming. I think I would have accepted a lower dose if it weren’t for the fact that I have this little problem like the princess and the pea…I can’t seem to sit on anything much. And, because I can see the future, I am aware that, for example, twenty years of subtly stewing resentment is not a good trade off for not bringing up something uncomfortable now.
In Egypt they call it having a “white heart”. It means any little bit of dirt shows a lot, and the person has to address it. My friend Abdalla who told me about it says he much prefers a person with a white heart because they will always just tell you what is going on for them, rather than holding it back and then letting it come out in other ways that are ultimately worse.
But here is the thing…it takes a lot of self-worth to speak up for yourself, (or to know when you it really doesn’t feel right to) and even if you have that there is often still something I call “the backlash” to face if you do. While it may come from another person or other people, it most frequently and reliably comes from inside oneself after speaking one’s truth. It’s like a wave of collective shame most of us each carry that has been building up over countless generations…it is a misplaced protective measure telling us we are in danger because we have taken a stand.
And, of course, it is crucial to say that sometimes we are. There are places in the world where it is dangerous to speak out. There are situations in which we are actually with an unsafe person or people and making waves would literally put us in danger. It’s important to acknowledge that so that we can make wise and safe choices about when and where we take certain actions and how much threat we will face.
But the danger we most tend to feel and respond to is the one inside that tells us we are bad. The voice that, for many of us, goes back to painful experiences early in life. It can be a powerful voice and it can come from a place much deeper than our conscious minds.
The complete remedy for all of this is not simple, because it is unique to each of us and a multi-layered, though powerfully fruitful, journey. But I can offer something right here and now that is more simple, (I also share a lot more about this journey in my courses, especially The Essential Self-Love Course). The simple remedy for this moment is the power of knowing that you are not alone in this…
I eat the forbidden apple frequently too, if my heart knows it is right and directs me to. I ruffle feathers and sometimes say the things no one wants to hear. If something is wrong and I know I need to, I speak up. If someone crosses my boundaries I let them know. (I once pushed a drunk guy off of me with my whole force while singing karaoke…and just kept on singing.)
Oh if it were always so simple as it sometimes is to push away a drunk stranger. But it isn’t, is it? It’s complicated. It’s old friends you don’t have much in common with anymore that there are some unhealthy patterns with, but with whom you hope it can be salvaged. (And maybe it can be.) It is family members with whom estrangement might cause you a level of pain that feels almost unendurable…it’s not just one big choice sometimes but countless tiny ones about how to care for yourself around these people you love.
In those situations too, I want you to know you are not alone. In the worst moments, I hope you will remember…Jennifer has felt this too. Lots. Jennifer has felt like the black sheep, the squeaky wheel, the one targeted by what reminds her of a witch hunt. Jennifer has been lied to and then called a liar. Jennifer has been dismissed, called a bitch, looked at funny, and called names. And Jennifer feels the backlash, and the ancient pain, and she cries, and she talks about it to someone she loves, and she takes care of herself softly and gently until it gets better.
But it still hurts. And that’s okay. It’s what we need to do to get through this until there is no more shame or punishment for eating the apple. Until the world is less traumatized and more loving. And the beautiful news is that every time you trust yourself and speak your truth, or trust yourself that you are not meant to, you get a little more of your rainbow back inside.
Sometimes people walk away when you speak your truth…
I love you. You are not alone.
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