The beautiful thing about a public and epic failure is that you cannot hide it. To have your darkest day exposed for all to see is very painful and it is very freeing. It opens up the door of opportunity for others to walk alongside you, to show support and compassion. For most of us our failures are more private. They take place behind closed doors, in small ways and in intimate relationships. They never make headlines and are often never even shared.
I almost never posted my letter to Anna. I almost never started my blog at all. I have always wanted to be a writer, but never committed to writing. This fall I am on a sabbatical. It’s complicated; basically I’m on sabbatical from having a plan, from having it all figured out, and from knowing what is next. Over the past few weeks I have felt a nudge to write down some of my thoughts and share my story. Lacking motivation, I let this nudge linger without acting on it. It grew and grew, alongside the sick feeling of fear in my gut. What if I share my thoughts and no one reads them? What if I open my heart and it gets rejected? What if my story is ridiculed? After my marriage blew-up it felt like I walked around with no skin. I was vulnerable and tender; sometimes I still am. Am I able to handle putting myself out there and risk failure? When the news broke about the Ashley Madison hack my heart sank. I can imagine the pain and wreckage that is swallowing up so many marriages. My desire to share an encouraging word with another traveler grew.
The details of my story aren’t pretty. The life that I used to have exploded almost overnight, in November of 2013. My future plans, my broken dreams, my marriage; all of it got swept into a huge mangled pile of wreckage. This past week I started dreaming that maybe that mess could become something. Maybe it could be used for someone else’s benefit. Maybe my pain and agony is not for nothing. Maybe that is the fine line between hopelessness and hope. A pile of carnage containing my life’s dreams; that looks hopeless to me. That same pile of trash molded into some thing that benefits someone else, now I see hope.
You have your own piles of trash, we all do. What are the difficult experiences, losses, broken dreams, mistakes, secrets, or hurt feelings that you have sitting in your trash pile? What have you been through that you could courageously share with others? We hide these things so well. We want everything to appear “fine” on the outside, even if it’s not. What if you decided to turn your trash into gifts; gifts of hope, encouragement, empathy, compassion?
My pile of trash is not going to go to waste.
How about yours?
Will you share with me?
P.S. I am amazed at the outpouring of kindness and encouragement that has come from my last blog post. You have blown me away. Somewhere in between the words of my heart and the blog post on your screens, we connected in an awesome way.