“Internal pain always comes out. Always. And who pays the price? We do. Our children, our colleagues, our communities.” — Susan David
I’m fine, I said a thousand times growing up. I’m fine. I was taught to hold those feelings in, bury them, and put on a happy face. Well, I imploded later in life, and it affected me and my family. I wish I’d had a better handle on dealing with feelings, but the one thing I can do now is try to do better.
I’ve been reading Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser. She helps explain why many of us, especially those of an age, struggle with speaking up in a clear, confident voice. Her anecdotes and research, though, tell a future of a new hero’s journey, a better path for all of us to exist in community.
This is what she says about her book: Part One explores the myths and stories that are in the DNA of our culture. Part Two looks at women and power and redefines what it means to be courageous, daring, and strong. And Part Three offers “A Toolbox for Inner Strength.” I offer introspective exercises to help us be both strong-willed and kind-hearted, to overcome the “imposter syndrome,” and to support each other as we navigate a collective rite of passage. And I include my own stories of failures and victories at work and at home, as a mother and a wife, as a leader in my organization. I do this because I know when one person digs deep and tells her most honest, vulnerable tales, it helps others claim their own stories and use them to grow into their most courageous and creative selves. And that is my greatest hope for Cassandra Speaks.
While we are home during this pandemic, spend this time with your feelings. Let them play out. Wallow in them if you need to. But then deal with them. Change the ending to your story. As Susan says, “we own our emotions. They don’t own us.”