On the day I heard about this book, I was gasping for air. Pieces of myself were held together with string and sheer will power. The smile I wore as a mask was most likely betrayed by my red eyes and lack of mascara. I was sure the pain in my heart screamed at everyone around me: “Failure. Faker. Poser.”
I had gone to book club hoping for distraction. I desperately wanted out of the pain of my life and wanted talk about unimportant things like the easy summer read we were reviewing that night.
Fortunately for me, I have a friends who read things of substance, as well as fun summer reads. My friend, Rachelle, mentioned this book: “Daring Greatly” by Brene’ Brown. I’ll never know if she could see my struggle, or if she was simply guided by God to suggest this book. But it truly was an answer to what I was seeking.
That week my husband and I had been through a parenting moment that rocked us to our core. It still hurts 3 years later. I promise I will share at a later time, but there is more than my feelings to consider in the telling of the story; so that will have to wait for another time.
When Rachelle told me about this book I knew I needed to read it. Brene’ starts the book with this passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. . . .”
This passage reminds me of what it is like to raise children AND raise children with special needs. We will try and fail, and try again. We will come up short. But we keep trying, because to quit is not an option. So we continue each day to dare greatly.
Brene’ makes the argument that connection is the point of human existence. But in order to wholeheartedly connect with another human being, we must be vulnerable.
That seemed so opposite to what I had been taught and how I lived my life. As a parent of three special needs children I had created quite a shell around my emotions and my struggles. To allow others to see my fears and weakness would be shameful. They could already see that my children weren’t perfect and that I wasn’t a perfect parent. Why would I share more of my struggles? But as I read her book and reviewed her research, I could see she was correct. And Brene’ is not a touchy feeling “this sounds nice we should try it” hack; she has researched connection, shame, and vulnerability for years. The research backs up her argument. However, her book isn’t just data, charts and numbers either. She weaves together the stories of the people she has researched with the data to create a great read.
What this book helped me realize, was that by hiding my pain from my friends, I was closing out my connection to them. I wasn’t allowing them to learn from my pain, and I wasn’t allowing myself to heal. To connect with my children, my husband, and others like me, I must allow myself to be vulnerable. Her book is one major reason I started this blog. I want to connect with other parents so that we can see we are not alone and that together we can dare greatly.