Today I wrote about not being such a good friend, on Monday I confessed to really embarrassing insecurities, and, oh, today’s post also included references to depression, which is something that for some stupid reason still carries some kind of stigma and people talk about it in hushed tones. Part of the reason I do this is because I want to fight against that hushed-tones mentality, because I believe keeping our weaknesses hidden is not good for us – and I don’t mean just on the individual level, I don’t mean just that it’s not good for me to keep it all locked away, I mean that as a society it’s not good for us to pretend that these things don’t exist.
Every time I’ve shared embarrassing stuff on my blogs, every time I’ve confessed to a weakness or vulnerability of mine, or talked about a painful experience, I’ve had reactions which told me: other people have had similar experiences, and they find it really valuable that someone else is talking about it openly, it makes them feel less alone, less like “I’m the only one”, less ashamed.
Shame is what happens when we keep things hushed up. Shame is bad for us, it eats us up, it makes us feel worthless and hopeless. Shame whispers in your ear, saying: you’re no good, and you’ll never be any good.
Bringing things out into the light is a great weapon against shame.
That’s why whenever I feel like “oh no, I don’t want to write about this, cringe cringe”, I fight the inner cringe and write it anyway. For myself, and for others who are being eaten up by shame.
Out in the light, things don’t look quite so bad. Out in the light, being the victim of someone else’s wrongdoing suddenly – surprise surprise – doesn’t look like it’s your fault. Out in the light, suffering from a condition which affects you mentally doesn’t look like it’s any more reason to be embarrassed than if you had a heart condition or suffered from arthritis. Out in the light, being yourself – with your strengths and weaknesses, with your quirks and foibles, which all make you the unique individual that you are – doesn’t seem so bad. Especially when other people open up and admit that they too have weaknesses, that they also struggle, that actually their answer to “how are you” is often a lie, because no, most people are not fine all the time. (Flashback to primary school, one year when we had an English teacher who came from America and taught us this bit of dialogue: how are you? I’m fine, thank you, and how are you? *sigh* At least in Israeli culture we have alternatives, our range of standard replies to “how are you” includes “baruch hashem”, which means “praise God”, which basically doesn’t say anything about how you are… it also includes “cakha cakha”, which means “so so”. We don’t say we’re fine when we’re not.)
Maybe it’s because I’m living amongst the reserved English, but I look around me and see a whole load of people going around pretending that everything’s okay, and I feel part of my mission in life is to fight against the pretence, and encourage people to feel free to admit that they’re struggling – because there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s normal really, and I’d like to see us humans recognising and acknowledging that it’s normal, instead of trying to hide our difficulties as though we’re supposed to have everything under control.
My name is Meirav and I’m human. I’ve been human for 49 years. (and when I say “human” I mean: weak, flawed, vulnerable, imperfect, broken, struggling – but also: made in God’s image, and lovable. That’s not just me, that’s each of you reading this. Lovable just as you are.)