Hey. How are you. I don’t care. Let’s get down to business, shall we?
#letsgetcracking #thegoddamnedshowmustgoon #shesfucked #imready
So I’ve been having this real struggle with authenticity lately. Clearly, I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown. She talks about the relationship between vulnerability and authenticity. She defines authenticity as “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” (Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown #readit). Authenticity is about letting people see who you really are, imperfections and all. It’s about cutting away all the bullshit and courageously showing the world your true colors. I feel like I do a good job of showing my true self because I wear fur vests in public, but I do know that I struggle with speaking my heart when I fear negative consequences. I’m not great at expressing my feelings when they are anything but positive; I don’t particularly enjoy telling people that I feel uncertainty, insecurity, fear, anger, sadness, disappointment, etc. I’d rather tell people that I feel awesome all the fucking time. But that’s not real life. No matter the emotion, telling people how you feel requires vulnerability. You are making yourself vulnerable when you say, “Hey, you were the best part of me day today (I’m Irish in this example),” the same way you’re making yourself vulnerable when you tell someone, “Hey, you really let me down today.” God, just the thought of saying that aloud made me want to vomit up all my iced coffee, but that would be a waste of caffeine. Unless it means I get to taste my coffee twice. Hey… that doesn’t sound so bad.
Okay. So Brene gives a gameplan for practicing authenticity. She says that when you’re venturing into vulnerable territory, if your only goal is to be authentic then you can’t be disappointed. But if you dive into a vulnerable situation with the intention of receiving approval or acceptance from someone then you have the possibility of feeling shame when you don’t receive those things. If you’re going into a situation thinking to yourself, ‘Hey, I’m just gonna speak my heart and be myself, and all I seek is the pride of courageously showing my honest, imperfect, vulnerable self,” then you can’t be disappointed! Because you don’t need approval from the listener to feel okay.
The thing about vulnerability is that it sounds immensely gratifying in theory. “Oh my god, I would love for someone to see my true colors… as long as I don’t have to go first.” But that’s the even more courageous thing to do, to be the one to open up first. And all those “firsts” in a relationship are terrifying, because it’s all uncharted territory where both people are fumbling around a jagged obstacle course in the dark. But remember whether it’s the end of the first date and you’re the one to ask for a second date or it’s the end of the second date and you’re both naked and you don’t know who’s gonna take it up the ass, someone’s gotta go first.
So I’ve been having this struggle lately:
If you have read any of my blog posts…. or if you have read even half of a blog post, you know that I am a person with MANY feelings. I know that people think that EVERYONE has many feelings. Okay, maybe that’s true. But I talk about ALL of them. All of them. If a friend gives me side-eye even for a split second, I will want to ask them if we’re fighting. They might respond with, “Oh, no, my contact was sliding around in my eye, and I was just looking for it.” But I feel like everything needs to be said.
Let me repeat that:
I feel like everything needs to be said.
In my life, I have had a few lots of many relationships with the menfolk. And of these relationships, the ones that burnt to the ground were incinerated by a lack in communication. So. All of the relationships that I have had have gone up in flames. Cool, right? But let me define lack of communication. Because it wasn’t always the same. At times, one of us was feeling a certain way but didn’t feel comfortable sharing the information with the other. For example, I have been known to tell myself, “Oh, this thing is really bothering me, but I will fix it all on my own. No one will help me. This thing will be fixed by me and me alone. The Bible says, ‘This too shall pass’. So I’m not sure if that particular verse is referring to kidney stones or heartache, but I’m going to assume that it applies to all things. And I know that there’s that saying about accepting the things I cannot change, but instead I’m just gonna assume I am omnipotent and I can fix all things, including the things I cannot change. So. Suck on that, Life!” But there were also times, when I just didn’t want to make myself vulnerable by sharing my feelings with my partner. I thought to myself, ‘Why should I have to open up? Why do they get to know everything about me, and I get to know nothing about them? Because then they get to hold all the cards while I sit here naked?! Hell fuckin nah!’
(Clearly this is the part of the blog where I’m halfway through my jumbo iced coffee, and all the caffeine is starting to hit me. The man next to me stares at me in bewilderment, wondering how I can possibly type a blog this fast with my eyes closed and drool careening from my mouth-hole. [He just looked over and read this. I wonder what he thinks. I would turn and wink but my fur is too big, and it’s blockading my face. Blockading. Yep.])
Withholding my feelings from my partners was very, very bad. Very bad. Because those small things that started off in my head as “inconsequential, petty things that I could either fix on my own or just get the fuck over” eventually snowballed into “humongous, non-negotiable deal-breakers”. Yes, some of my relationships were fucked from the get-go. But some issues could have been resolved if I had said something. I’m not crying over spilled milk…that would be a waste of tears because I would just lick my spilled milk off the ground. But really, I’m just mindfully reflecting on my past.
But there were other breakdowns in communication. Sometimes when I would be texting a boy that I had the hots for, we would be texting like madmen, sending 9 million texts a minute. The text thread would be growing exponentially while we both sent text messages like we couldn’t possibly be bothered by real life happening around us. And then. AND THEN! The boy stopped rapidly texting, and maybe the next response came ten minutes later. And then I read the response and thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m just gonna wait ELEVEN minutes to respond to this text. That’ll show him! HOW DARE HE HAVE OTHER CONCERNS BESIDES TEXTING! Yeah, that’ll really put him in his place.’
Now, stop gawking at me and thinking, ‘Wow, James is totes a crazy person.’ Because I know you have done it, too. I feel like I have a pretty solid head on my shoulders, and yet I have done this a MILLION times in my life. I’m a very mature person; I wear lots of black and I only shit in my pants once a year, but I still act like a child sometimes.
So. I’ve learned that communication is vital.
Now here’s the current struggle. I always know how I feel. 99% of the time, I know exactly what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it. And I always want to express my feelings. To everyone. But it’s hard with someone new. With someone new, there’s all this uncharted territory; no one really knows how everything works yet. And someone has to be the first to open up and be vulnerable; someone’s gotta take the giant step on the New Frontier currently known as Authenticity. For example, if I miss a Someone New, and I want to share this information with a Someone New. But before I vocalize my feelings, I need to solidify my intention. Am I saying, “Hey, I miss you,” because I want to hear it back? Or am I saying, “Hey, I miss you,” because it’s how I feel, and I simply want to practice authenticity? Because I have to be okay with not hearing it back. Also, it doesn’t mean as much if I’m only saying the words to hear them back. I mean, honestly, how many times have we all told someone, “I love you,” just because we needed to hear it back in that moment? And if that’s the intention, to feel love, then the purity and honesty behind the words, “I love you,” are diminished. The real act of courage is opening yourself up without the guarantee that they will return the sentiment. Coming face-to-face with the queasiness of uncertainty; that’s vulnerability.
So it’s been a real struggle for me. Because I want to actively practice authenticity. I want to be courageous enough to open myself up without needing the other person to reciprocate. But how do I practice patience and kindness with myself while I sit in the wasteland of terror in my moments of post-vulnerability? How do I become content with speaking my heart without waiting for the approval of the listener? How do I keep myself from banging my head against the wall until exhaustion after I’ve bared my soul to somebody? And at what point do I stop practicing courage, vulnerability and all the other horseshit and just put my hood over my head and drown myself in the couch cushions??
I really should have started this blog with a joke. This is some real shit, huh? Ok. Two guys walked into a bar. Then they hugged each other, gave each other butterfly kisses and lived happily ever after. Get it?! It’s funny, because TRUE LOVE DOESN’T EXIST.
….that was a joke, get it? Alright, back to our regularly scheduled programming: Vulnerability Hour with James Marvin Mayo Hansen #holdthemayo #XtraMayo
So I was really mulling over this predicament last week while I was flying home to surprise my family for Thanksgiving. Stacy and I took a cab to my mother’s office and we waited for her to come back from her lunch break. She walked in and exclaimed, “What are you guys doing here?!?!” And she gave me a big, strong, back-breaking, I-love-you-I-mean-it hug. Then we were like, GIVE US YOUR CAR WE’RE GOING TO SURPRISE MARVIN (my father).
Stacy and I drive over to Home Depot to surprise my father while we laugh maniacally about how brilliant we are. Then we discuss how hard it is to drive again after being in NYC for so long. I propose that the hardest thing about driving is remembering to put the car in park before turning it off. We nod together thoughtfully.
We arrive at Home Depot where my father works in shipping and receiving. We promptly find a woman named Stephanie who we wrangle into helping us surprise my father. Then we find my father’s boss, and he excitedly decides to join in the surprise. They page my dad over the intercom while Stacy and I hide behind a stack of poinsettias. Stephanie finds my dad and tells him he’s in trouble with Boss. Clearly, Stephanie got carried away, because now my father thinks he’s getting fired. So my dad is standing in front of Boss who says, “Marv, you can’t take all day. The thing is….” then me and Stacy jump out and surprise my dad! “SURPRISE, YOU’RE NOT LOSING YOUR JOB IT’S JUST JAMES YOUR FAVORITE SHITHEAD I DIDN’T TELL STEPHANIE TO TELL YOU YOU’RE GETTING FIRED I DON’T KNOW WHY SHE DID THAT YAY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!”
When my dad saw me, he looked at me with the same fear in his eyes that he used to get in my childhood when I would wander into his room in the middle of the night like a “tiny” spectre because I was afraid of monsters under my bed who wanted to murder me for my amazing fashion sense. Then my dad gave me the same kind of hug my mom did while Stephanie and Boss laughed devilishly and high-fived over their Tony-award winning performances. When my dad pulled away he was wiping tears from his eyes. In front of his co-workers. And in that moment, I decided who I wanted to be. I want to be my dad. I don’t want to hide my vulnerabilities. I don’t want to pretend I’m not moved to tears by something that makes me super happy. I don’t want to act like nothing can penetrate my shield of Cool Guy exterior. I want to be fiercely, unapologetically passionate. I want to tell people how I feel. I want to get giddy and excited about drag queens without worrying about compromising my masculinity. I want to lipsync to that one song on my iPod that just GETS ME while I stomp the pavement while Harlem children point and laugh at my red harem pants. I want to be authentic and vulnerable just like my dad.
Also Dad, I’m sorry they made you think you were getting fired. That situation just snowballed out of control. Stephanie and Boss are amateur actors, and they raised the stakes a bit to high for that particular scene. But they’re committed to their craft, and they will learn someday. I love you a lot, and I want to grow up to be just like you. Because you’re awesome, and your children are super hot. Especially James.
“Bang my head against the wall. Though I felt light-headed, now I will not fall; I will rise above it all. Found what I was searching for. Though I felt light-headed, I should’ve fell and hit the floor. Instead I rise above it all.”
~”Bang My Head” by David Guetta feat. Sia