Naming it.

I have some friends who participate in a retreat each January to “name their year.” It helps them to be more intentional toward the coming year. I have been wanting to do the same thing this year, though was not able to participate in the retreat. Just within the past couple of days I have found some clarity around what the coming year must be about for me.

I have not talked about it extensively here, but I have mentioned before that I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been in recovery for several years, but on Saturday night, I drank. Lots.

Back to square one.

It was a stealth attack. I had not been thinking about drinking at all, I never think about drinking any more. But I was stressed out. I had been feeling insecure and inadequate in some aspects of my life and that stuff had all been ballooning up in my head for a few days. I just wanted some relief. I wanted some relief from the conversation on loop in my head, from my heart trying to break out of my rib cage, from the knot in my stomach. I just wanted some relief. I just wanted to be able to sleep.

I love my mind, but it is not a place that you want to be for too long by yourself.  Some of the stuff bouncing around up there is good and some of it is bad, and that in itself is not a problem. The problem is that I do not always do a good job of getting that stuff out. And it needs to be let out.

I get some of it out through writing and painting, but the best way to get that stuff out is to talk to other human beings…to have conversation. And this has become a bit of a weakness for me.

I am not much of a talker. Some people think that this is strange since I speak for a living, but I am actually pretty introverted. Introverted and a little awkward socially; small talk with people I do not really know is one of the hardest things in the world for me. I don’t know why, I just know that it is. I am mostly German, a farm kid and was in the Marine Corps. Wrap all of that stuff up together and you end up with a guy that does not talk much, especially about feelings. I just put a lid on that stuff and have for as long as I can remember. So stuff gets bottled up and some of it gets malignant.

So I need to talk more about how I am feeling and what I am thinking, good bad and otherwise. I have feelings and moods just like everyone else does, I just need to share them so that they do not take on a life of their own. My wife is a pretty emotionally healthy person…she gets irritated by something; she vents and moves on…it is over. My wife has emotions, my emotions have me.

In repressing them or denying them I give them a whole bunch of power they do not deserve.

I need to use my friends and family better. I have a lot of friends, but most of these relationships do not include space for much personal stuff. They include about as much emotion as my Facebook posts do. My friends mostly get information about safe and socially acceptable feelings, they get brand appropriate information. Outrage about politics, frustration related to workplace shortcomings, that kind of thing. I do not tell them when I am feeling entirely inadequate and seem to be finding a lot of evidence that it is true.

As much as I have tried to be an advocate for speaking the whole truth, I have largely exempted my emotional self from that practice. I guess I have just always seen that stuff as being inappropriate, unnecessarily messy and mostly trivial. I have to change. I have to own some stuff instead of being owned by it.

I am at peace right now. I am grateful and excited. I am about to leave for a speaking gig in NYC and it has been about six weeks since I rocked a mic. It is time.

I am not threatening to turn this blog into a dashboard for my emotional and mental well-being, but I do think that some of this is going to show up in my work in some way, it is a part of who I am.

2013 is going to be about speaking courageously for me. It has to be.

There is too much at risk.

Be good to yourself.

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  1. Amanda

    If we were sitting together in circle, and this was your offering to the centre, I would ring the bell to let your words sink in and rest. Very moving… a powerful naming of what is happening and inviting it forward into the light so it don’t become shadow. And your courage to do this will invite others to think about where they have unclaimed bits of themselves bopping around, causing troubles.

  2. broc.edwards

    See, Joe, some of us like to think we speak authentically and share truths and then you blow us all out of the water with your amazing courage and show us what authentic really looks like. Thank you.

  3. Doug Shaw

    It’s good to have you back Joe, and I think a blog that shows the writer’s emotional and mental well being is a good place to come and enjoy and learn from. I look forward to talking more. Not loads – just more.

    Be good to yourself too please.

  4. Salima Nathoo

    Courage begins when we connect with ourselves and then amplifies when we share it with others in the safe space of an authentic encounter. At a time where many are waiting for a green light to grow from their place of truth, you show us that the only signal we need is the one from within.

  5. Tiffany Kuehl

    Thank you Joe!

  6. Mandy

    LOVE IT. 🙂

  7. Mark

    Good to have you back and writing, Joe. Looking forward to what you have to say.

  8. Patti

    Joe,
    Thanks for the very transparent, and likely difficult, post you shared here. People seem to be the most surprised when people they admire actually turn up human, with real issues they face just like the rest of us.

    What makes relationships stronger and even more trustworthy – just as you have probably found in your speaking – is that when people we hold up as models share their reality, we grow closer to them. Their words become more relevant and hold more meaning. As always, you inspire because of your candor and honesty, it carries with it a great integrity that makes you one of my favorite folks!

    Appreciating you!

  9. Eric Lanke

    Thank you, Joe, for having the courage to write this. As you think about ways to speak more courageously in the year ahead, know that you example inspires others.

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