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  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

Shedding Shame, Finding Light: The Power of Honest Conversations

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.





"Complete honesty helps keep people in recovery in the light, and out of the shame and guilt." In our alternative high school where I work, we have a recovery school within it. I was chatting with one of their teachers when they shared this.


That was a week ago, and those words have lingered and I've thought about its depth of meaning not just for those in recovery but for anyone.


When I'm present, in tune with how I'm feeling and engaged in honest communication with others, I feel lighter. I suppose, I'm experiencing "life in the light."


And, on the other hand, when I'm sitting in resentments, unable to speak and share about them, the world and the people in it become horrid, unchangeable, tiresome. And I become bitter. And I often pop something sweet into my mouth, which only lasts a short moment, before darkness takes over once again. When a friend comes by with a "Are you okay?" my rote lie, "I'm fine," adds another brick to the wall between us, to the wall between me and the world.


As Rory points out, we first have to be honest with ourselves and own up to our part in how our life currently is. Upset with a colleague? Well, have you tried talking with them about it? At odds with your partner over the kids? Well, when was the last date night you had? Why don't you get away for a night and chat over dinner? Not happy with your weight gain? Well, what are all those sweets you've been eating all about?


In honesty, we can stop hiding. In honesty, we can shed the shame and guilt. And I'd add, resentment, too. And the magical thing is, when I own up to my part in my discontentment with some aspect of my life and engage in authentic conversations, those I'm speaking with end up mirroring my vulnerability, too. In a way, we are each other's key to coming "into the light." It requires taking a leap, trust, and bringing a listening ear.


Just as one lie can spiral into a habit of lying, I believe honesty, if intentionally practiced, can become a habit, too.


Here's an excerpt from my Afterword in Should've Been Dead, as I continued to push myself towards authentic conversations with friends, and later, with strangers, too:


"... our walls down and our hearts open. Not filtered by what we should say, or what’s appropriate to share, or how our sharing may make us look. We talked about our worries—with our children, our marriages, and our work. We asked questions to understand and then looked at the issue from the other side. Sometimes we received closure; other times, the peace that comes from simply sharing. These were genuine connections... The more I practice these conscious choices, the less I’ll second-guess myself and, one day I hope, just be."

 

For All of Us: Think of some part of your life that you're not happy with. Be honest with yourself: What's your role in how things are? What's in your control to maybe try differently? Find your why: What are some positives that might come out of trying something differently? Then, climb out of the shame, guilt, or resentment you may currently be sitting in. Take the first step. Engage in vulnerable conversations with the people you need to. Trust.


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