Brene Brown, our leading expert on shame, says the antidote to shame is empathy and what we need in order to have empathy is to be vulnerable. She also says what we need most to be creative is vulnerability.
While I was listening to this lecture of hers on creativity, I flashed back to the many years I worked on my memoir: How I felt safe to write my story on a blank page as I catharted my life’s story—to be as victim, as angry, blaming and shameful as I felt. To put it ALL out there in the spirit of inquiry, telling my story as honestly as I could with as much bravery as I could muster.
Anne Lamott, author of Bird By Bird – Some Instructions On Writing and Life (as Brene refers to in another interview) calls this process SFD – Shitty First Draft.
What’s great about a SFD is that we have permission to get it all out. And if we are wise, we do so without self-judgment. However, it’s hard for the self-critic to not enter in.
For me, it took determination to keep writing—to not stop going into my depths and exposing it all: To be raw, and broken and not afraid to be seen in my most vulnerable self.
Even though no one was reading what I wrote as I wrote it, of course I wondered what someone else would think of me. But my goal was to allow whatever arose to arise in my SFD even if it felt completely shitty.
At the time, I was in therapy twice a week and that gave me the space to process all the emotions that came up. It was a deep, painful exploration into my past and most of my predominate relationships.
Yet, I knew I wanted to publish a book—that that was a life-long dream of mine—and I was as committed to facing myself in my narrative as I was to the soulful wish to having a career as a writer.
What happened after my SFD was interesting. The vulnerability still colored the pages, but as I went through the editing process, the damaged bloody wound began to scab. The humanness rose higher than the drama, and the compassion for all those I was writing about (and ultimately myself) trumped the pain I felt.
The editing strokes took freeing delight as I cut away the scars and bandages with repetitive taps of the delete button. Word by word, comma-by-comma, edit-by-edit, I began to heal.
I remember saying to my therapist, I don’t want to publish this book if it’s all about the wound. The purpose is to help others to know how to come to self-love through the support of my story.
Interestingly to me, it wasn’t the story of my life that unfolded over the years during this editing process that ultimately allowed an ending to my book. It was the edits themselves (and the inner-work along side them) that led to my creating a whole new inner-experience and life for myself.
After almost 6 years of writing on this manuscript, when my pinkie finger found it’s way to the final period of a long and inward journey, I sensed a joyous peace overcome me.
When I finished the final edits for my editor, Dinah, at Schiffer Publishing the end of last summer for a Spring 2019 release, I went to Fed-Ex to send her the last red-marked pages.
I thought to myself, I’m not finished but those drafts of my past are. And I was ready for my next journey into vulnerability.
Wishing YOU vulnerability on your creative journey and many beautiful endings and beginnings!!