Dr. Brown described our ideas about betrayal like a big jar full of marbles. (There was context, so stick with the metaphor for a moment.) When we think of losing trust in a friend or loved one, we tend to picture big, jar shattering moments, like the time our boyfriend cheated or a friend aired our embarrassing secrets, and that's that. That's how we lose trust in people, by having somebody smash apart well of love and companionship and beautiful moments between us that collectively made up our trust in that person, right?
She pointed out that a much more common kind of betrayal, and one that is certainly more difficult to handle is the kind that happens slowly over time, where kindness, togetherness, trust and affection are slowly withdrawn, bit by bit.
Maybe you don't sleep in bed together, anymore. Maybe you don't go out of your way to make sure your partner is accommodated. Maybe you don't sit together and watch movies or touch each other very often. Maybe your sex life got shifted way down the priority ladder. Maybe you spend all of your time working or caring for your children not because those things need ALL of your attention. Maybe you do it because you've slowly lost your ability to be vulnerable with your partner, maybe you trust them not to steal from you or cheat, but you don't necessarily trust them, on a base level... that they idolize you, revere you and seek your happiness along with their own.
This kind of betrayal doesn't get our blood boiling. It isn't so easy as the time your dad didn't show up at your wedding. You might not even feel mad about the slow kind of betrayal. You might feel nothing at all. You might just realize, one day, that you haven't experienced a genuine moment with your partner in a long, long time. That you feel prickly when you're supposed to feel at ease. And, how can you address what is wrong, if it feels like nothing?
Brene Brown defined love this way:
"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists between each one of them- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare."
I love this.
I loved reading this book.
It got me thinking a lot about self-acceptance, trust, being enough, parenting with an open heart and purposefully allowing myself to be vulnerable, so that my socially constructed and defensively developed ideas about myself don't get in the way of the happiness of my family and loved ones, or in the way of our love and connection together.
At first I thought it was going to be like... a self-help book, and I'm not into that. So, if that's how I've made it sound, it's not true. It's actually a book full of education and research into the topic of vulnerability, in women, in men, parents, partners, as artists and professionals... it is about how the extensive and impressive research done by Dr. Brown is easily and profoundly applicable in life. It was really kind of enlightening to read.
Oh, and also, Dr. Brown is totally likeable and not research doctory to read, at all. She's kind of adorkable, if you want to know the truth.
Lots of times I feel like I am comfortable with being vulnerable or "putting myself out there," but reading Daring Greatly made me realize how all of these nagging, seemingly unsolvable problems in my life, are actually related to my fear of being vulnerable in certain circumstances. How my ability to be "for real" in my art, might even be kind of making up for places where I'm lacking in being authentic and for real in other parts of my life.
I don't know. I have plans to come back to this all later.
To find out what the other BlogHer Book Club bloggers thought of Daring Greatly and to learn more about Brene Brown Ph. D., LMSW and her extraordinary research on shame and vulnerability, click here.
I was compensated for this review. These opinions are totally my own.