“Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world — even if what is published is not true.” – Richard Bach
I read this quote at the bottom of my friend Adam Quiney’s email signature and thought: “Yes! This is it!” He had just put into words one of my deepest values and the path I’ve always tried to walk – especially over the last seven years or so.
Let me start from the beginning.
Years ago, when I went through the process of separating from my ex-husband, there were many times when I wanted to defend myself. Our relationship was so deep on so many levels–love, marriage, children and business–and our lives were merged in so many ways around all of that. Our relationship was also very public, in the sense that we had not only a large shared personal community but also a very large shared professional community.
Both us us felt very hurt and that lead each of us to speak and behave in ways that were not, shall I say, our ‘highest self’. We weren’t asking people to take sides, but sometimes it was hard. In some way, we each wanted to be vindicated in feeling as hurt as we did.
On the professional side, we’d spent the previous 10 years building a company founded on Authentic Relating and communication, so it was scary to be showing the ways in which we weren’t perfect, not to mention that we had people we had never even met creating their own narrative about our marriage and break-up to make sense of it for themselves.
Depending on the perspective these people were coming from, they often made one of us wrong to suit their own needs.
People came to conclusions like: “Look poly relationships never work out” or “Bitches always gonna screw you over.” I don’t mean that they did this maliciously. It is human to try to find meaning.
But there was this point where I realized that all I could do was live my own life with the fullest possible integrity to myself, to walk each step with as much truth, compassion and righteousness as I possibly could, course correcting all along the way.
As long as I did that, my real integrity could never be taken from me, and that’s the only thing I had control over anyway. I was learning to not be ashamed of what anyone thought about me, and instead, shifting into trusting that there was nothing to defend about myself.
Publically, I had to set aside any idea of the image I wanted to project – about myself, my relationship, or as a teacher. Not in the way of ‘I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about me,’ but from a deep place of letting go of any part of me that needed to jump up and defend myself, because I realized there was nothing to defend–I knew who I was.
And I found that other people knew who I was too. The people that mattered knew. If a person heard something disparaging about me and didn’t bother to check with me about it, well, there was nothing I could do about that anyway.
I discovered who my people truly were.
Of course, I don’t wish that place of pain on anyone, but if there is one thing I learned from all this that I do wish for you, it’s this: There is a liberation, a freedom, and a deep knowing when you realise you never need to defend yourself and that there is truly nothing to defend anyway.
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