July 13, 2016
How are we supporting each other not only in doing, but also in feeling? How are we seeing each other not only for our strengths, but also for our vulnerabilities and sensibilities? Life is certainly a full spectrum emotional event, but so are we as humans. If we deny the truth of our vulnerabilities, our strength and resolve become less potent as well. In rejecting the softness, we close off a portion of our whole self. We are not fully engaged in life. In the moment this photo was taken, I was seen for and supported in feeling all of it in the most precious way. Every cell in my body was awakened to the reality of the good, the bad, the hopes, the fears. I simultaneously owned the humanity of my desires to engage and my desires to protect, my desires to feel and my desires to numb, my desires to be strong and my desires to crumble on the floor in a heap of tears, because I could.
As I look at this photo and remember the moment it was taken, I am reminded why I continue to engage in this project even in those dark moments when I fear that my story or my desire to connect with others is meaningless in light of everything else happening down the street and in the world. I started Last Cut six months ago and continue to show up because, on the most basic and true level, I want to be seen and I want to see. In the face of another major surgery, I sought to learn how to be strong and vulnerable at the same time. I do not know how to do that alone. I do not know how to let down my guard, be vulnerable and still walk into surgery to have my chest cut open. I have not known how to be strong and soft at that same time. I know how to be true to myself. I know how to get through it. I know how to do. I have not known how to embody those parts of myself with a truly and fully open heart. I just haven’t, because it was too scary and I have always feared it cannot work that way. If I were to permit myself all the emotions, how would I get through the six major surgeries, the radiation, the divorce, the career change, the anxiety and depression, the heartbreak and so on? Without realizing it, I stopped allowing myself to feel wholly for concern that allowing the softness might lessen my resolve or in all truth open me up to more pain. I have experienced sadness and breakdowns in isolation, but usually compartmentalized and controlled. I did not stop feeling it all intentionally. It has happened over time.
So, in asking and sharing and showing and meeting and conversing and connecting through Last Cut, I seek not to stand on a soapbox preaching of truth and self-reflection, but am on my knees asking for guidance and yearning for community. I am learning and dialoguing and praying that I will have the courage to stay as open as I know I was in the moment this photo was taken. I felt connected and I felt safe. I was seen and I saw. I saw my dear friend seeing me and in turn I allowed myself to crack. I permitted myself to open to the hidden, softer parts. I felt connected to this person and held by the human webs we weave to show each other the way. I became aware that there is so much more breadth to the whole thing, to being present with every part of myself. When I look at this raw, unedited image, my first inclination is to look away, not because of my bug bites, my spotted skin or the dark circles under my eyes, but because I see my vulnerability. I see my sadness. I see my rawness. I see my openness. I see my strength. I see my softness. I see it all. I rarely see that face in the mirror. I rarely allow myself to feel in my heart what I felt in that moment and that hurts. I want to be the full spectrum always with no fear holding me back.
The desire to be an open, vulnerable and connected human is why I am doing this. I am writing and engaging, not because I have all the answers, but because I want to learn a better way. I want to connect, because I strongly believe that, by asking the hard questions of each other and listening to the answers with an open mind and heart, we can heal. The ability to share what is most true to you and know you are being seen and heard is where magic happens. This open connection sparks clarity, action and foundational strength. Being seen and feeling whole inspires us to continue to show up for ourselves and for each other. It is for that reason that I started doing the Last Cut Conversations and it is for that reason that I keep sharing my story. Sometimes we have to dig deeper and look further for the answers we seek to find. There is a better way than doing it alone. There is a better way than doing it stoically. We need other humans to reflect back to us our vulnerabilities, our emotions and our truths. Those connections fuel more love and resolve and that furthers our ability to participate more fully and consciously in life. And in this rocky and unpredictable world, those bonds and the growth they foster provide a welcomed glimmer of hope.
(Raw, unedited image by Jacopo de Bertoldi)