I have always searched for truth. As a young 20-year-old I remember sitting with a group of women, we were talking about life. It was a faith-based women’s group back in the early 90’s. It was called ‘Women’s Aglow’ but I lovingly referred to it as ‘Women on or in Heat’ (apparently it depends which country you come from whether you say on or in… it doesn’t really matter, either way). To this day, my mind still boggles at the thought of that name for a women’s group. Being a marketing person, I always like to question the ‘why behind the what’ and this is a classic example. However, I think the better question to ask is ‘Why Did I Even Go?’ I realise now I was in search of TRUTH and so I found myself there. I promise that in my 20’s this was not my scene at all. I can only think that with my new found faith, it must have been the only watering hole at the time. I was new to the faith; I was full of zeal and zest, and the world was exciting and new to me. But I found myself lost in this women’s meeting, feeling like I didn’t belong……AND I DIDN’T.
We sat in a circle and went around from woman-to-woman talking about our week and what it was like. Everyone seemed to have days filled with daisies and freshly baked bread. Their ironing was done, their laundry put away and their cars were clean. Everything was great, and life was rolling along seemingly to the tune of Happy Days.
I remember sitting thinking that this couldn’t be true. Of the 15 people in the room, surely someone had an off week. I certainly had. I had nursed a dreadful hangover earlier in the week, I had a major fight with my boyfriend (now husband) and had given him the flick for the umpteenth time. My boss was on my back because he caught me sleeping at work whilst pretending to do some filing. My week was awful but because of all the fluff I heard I thought I would keep my mouth shut rather that burst out with the string of expletives that were on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to yell at the lot of them, but I listened to that small voice within that was yelling at me to SHUT UP! I knew I could download to my sister later and have a good old ‘debrief’ in the appropriate moment.
I could not believe the perfect weeks these women were having. Remember, this conversation happened in the 90’s when the war in the middle east was going on, lives were being lost. I was sleeping at work because my partying ways were seriously out of control, and it would appear that I had my days and nights mixed up. Rather than getting up at 6 am and getting ready for work I was arriving home at 5 am, hoping for a 2-hour nap and then to work. Hence the reason I was caught sleeping in the filing cabinet.
This was my existence and the state of the world, yet these women were seemingly unscathed. I was astonished by this level of perfection. I struggled to believe that all was so good especially since I knew some of these women had teenage children and knowing what I was like as a teenager, surely one of them was having trouble with parenting. Alas, no problems what-so-ever.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED. My A-ha moment and the eight words that changed my life FOREVER …… a moment that has stayed with me, has propelled me to dig deeper, to listen closer. A moment that has, in fact, extended into this season of my life as I am writing my book on ‘The Challenges 21st Century Women Face’. A moment for which I am forever grateful.
In walked Jane. Jane was late for the meeting and from the time her presence was known I knew something was up. Jane came in, sat down and slouched in her chair. She graciously said hello and apologised for her lateness and asked that we carry on. We have moved to about #9 in the updates on life, and we had another perfect week full of daisies, fresh bread, clean toilets and all things yummy. #10, #11, #12 all the way to Jane and it was her turn. Jane straightened up in her chair, brushed her hair aside and said, ‘Well, you’ve all had wonderful weeks. On the contrary, mine has been terrible and I’M BITCHY, AND I HAVE A BAD ATTITUDE.’ (these were her exact words!)
I almost jumped to my feet with clenched fist punching the air. I could have collapsed to my knees extending a prayer of Thanksgiving. I wanted to yell at Jane and say, ‘Thank You for not filling us full of fluff. Thank you for being HONEST. Thank You for sharing your truth. Thank You for letting this 20-year-old know that authenticity is real, and people can be real. Jane, thank you for validating every thought in my mind. Thank You for being brave enough to be you!’
You’ll be happy to know I didn’t stand and yell or fall to my knees in grateful moans of prayer. Instead, I listened to that small voice that repeatedly told me to have a mug of shut-up, and I listened while Jane went where she needed to go. As Jane spoke, I recall the other faces of shock and horror. Her truth was out and with that I knew she was able to start her long journey towards her new normal. As it turned out, her husband was cheating on her, he was abusing her verbally and trust me, the list went on. She was hurting, in fact, she was dying in front of us for weeks and sadly the space to be real hadn’t been created. So she suffered in silence until she could take it no more. Until she was at the end of her tether where she couldn’t even see beyond that afternoon.
Imagine if that space had been created for her? Imagine if Jane had been able to speak her truth before getting to the edge of that road that ended with no vision, no hope. The end was filled with fear and unknown and loneliness. Imagine if things had been different. What if her truth had been known before her pain got so great?
I have discovered through the research of my book and through the hundreds of conversations I have had with women across the globe is not much has changed. Although we think things have changed, not much has shifted since those days of ‘Women in/on Heat’. Yes, there is talk about living in Freedom. We talk about it; we post about it. And, although it sounds great the reality is, when people reveal their truth it seems we aren’t really willing to walk through the ugly, the painful and the moments that suck. Have we become so conditioned to and comfortable with talking about freedom and leaving it there? Do we feed fanciful dreams of life being beautiful and everything is okay and we’re all on a merry-go-round of joy?
After the conversations I’ve had, I have to ask the question: Are we prepared to accept and understand that life is hard, that it’s scary and sometimes it almost feels unbearable? Because it truly is in these moments, in the raw conversations, the real transactions and when our truth is out that we can truly begin to live. It’s here that freedom is found, and it’s from this point that change can and will happen. It’s being brave enough to face our truth. To recognise it as an okay part of our lives, share it if needed and let it not be the place we set up camp but a place we are propelled from.
I’m a mother of three children; I have been married for 21 years, and my truth is like a ball of wool that comes unravelled, knotted and needs to be re-rolled at times. Some days are great and so amazing that I feel like Julie Andrews, and I want to dance and sing my way through the Alps. Other days are scary and are moment by moment, breath by breath. I do yell at my children even though I don’t want to and don’t mean to and my neighbours have heard me. I have disrespected my husband and made stupid mistakes; my house always has stuff that needs putting away. My kids occasionally go to school with unmatched socks and my dog recently had fleas that I couldn’t get rid of for months. I love Television shows like the Bachelorette and Gogglebox and yes, I let my 10-year-old watch The Bachelorette. There is so much more to me, so much truth that makes me who I am. There is the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful and in and through it all I find my freedom and I choose to walk in it. Free of shame, guilt and any condemnation.[tweetthis]I find my freedom and I choose to walk in it. Free of shame, guilt and any condemnation.[/tweetthis]
This is simply a snippet of my truth. I share it to say that in and through it all I’m okay and possibly better because in truth there is freedom. I am Free to be Me, and I love it[tweetthis]I am Free to be Me, and I love it[/tweetthis] I hope that as I continue to share stories and truths like these that you will enjoy, have a giggle and maybe unearth some of your truth. May you too live in even greater freedom as the sweet song of your life is heard by many.
Stay tuned for my next article 🙂