[This was originally published on ‘The Naked Hour’ blog a few months ago.]
Do you want to know my secret to happiness in life?
Not just superficial happiness, mind you; I’m talking about the real, raw, honest, gritty kind of happiness that has you able to smile – if only for a few minutes – even on the worst days. You want to know my secret for that? Are you ready for it?
Here it is: Have no secrets.
That’s certainly my ultimate goal here in this space, for myself; and it’s something I encourage all my friends, loved ones, and clients to strive for as well on a daily basis.
I aim to lay bare everything I’ve learned. Everything I’ve experienced. Every good thing. Every miracle. Every embarrassing conversation. Every poor decision. The story behind every bruise, every cut, every scrape, and every scar. No more minimizing. No more pretending. It’s time to shove every last molding, dusty, dirty, rotting skeleton out of the closet and into the light of day.
I want to present who I authentically am with the hope that others out there can see themselves in my best and my worst moments. In my experiences, and in the experiences of others. And in doing so, start to heal. To let go. To forgive and move forward. To connect and bond through truth and heartfelt discussion; to put aside petty things like race and religion and gender, and instead realize we’re all part of and experiencing this thing called ‘the human condition’ together. That we have more in common than we know.
But Meghann, what do you mean exactly by no secrets?
Just that: no secrets. No skeletons in any closets. No glossed over version of events from my past. Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson through many trials, and even more mistakes.
Looking back on my life I realize the worst moments for me were the times when I was trying to minimize something, or sweep it under the rug or pretend it didn’t exist. Trying to ensure certain people didn’t know certain sides of my personality, or parts of my past, in an effort to please. All with the best of intentions, of course; but still with bad outcomes. In an effort to have everyone “be happy”, usually it would end with everyone – especially me – more unhappy than ever. Because nothing was 100% authentic.
And always – ALWAYS – this would ultimately lead to problems. Because guess what? The minute you start pretending to be something you’re not, you have to keep pretending. You have to keep minimizing. You have to keep going with the little white lies you thought were so small and so innocent; the lies you thought you told for an intangible “greater good”. Everything motivated by a you-can’t-handle-the-truth kind of mentality.
Well…maybe that’s true. Maybe some people can’t handle my truth. Maybe I’ll lose some friends or associations in my life. Maybe I’ll miss out on a few invites, and fall off a few Christmas card lists. But that’s okay; I’m going to do it anyway. Because life is, my dear friends, far too short to do anything else. It’s not my responsibility to protect others from the truth that is me. The truth that is my life. Just as it’s not your job to protect me or others from the truth of your life.
We all have to learn how to live happily and authentically as ourselves. That to me is the ultimately key to success in life.
My life has been messy. It’s been hard at times. Really, really hard. But it’s still my life; and for every hard moment, there has been a blissfully beautiful moment too. So on some levels I’d say it’s a life I’m proud of…because of everything I’ve learned. Maybe not proud of the bad choices or the mistakes…but I’m proud of what I’ve learned and become as a result. Proud that I’m still standing, and have something to offer.
I never know if what I have to offer is something anyone will find value in…but it’s what I have, and so I offer it nonetheless, letting others decide for themselves. I feel like so often we could spare ourselves a lot of self-judgement if we simply knew we weren’t alone. If we knew we weren’t the first – nor the last – to make bad decisions. If we knew there were people out there ready to celebrate with us on our journeys…the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.
So then…my name is Meghann…and in the past 29 years I have:
- Traveled to many different places in the world, and learned a lot about people from all walks of life.
- Been an outstanding competitive swimmer. Setting records and climbing higher and
higher on the “Fastest Of” lists. I’ve also lost it all due to a shoulder injury that ultimately led to surgery at the age of seventeen.
- Been in shape, and at my heaviest I’ve also been as much as seventy pounds overweight. Been classified as morbidly obese a few times by doctors. I’ve looked at myself in mirrors and loved what I’ve seen, and I’ve also had days when I’d have thrown a rock at my reflection if one had been readily available.
- Had days where I’ve been at my best, and I’ve had days when I’ve been so utterly depressed that the simple act of breathing was almost too much.
- Studied opera both in school and privately; performed in several countries, made several recordings, and loved every single minute of it.
- Was part of founding the Pacific Youth Choir, which has grown to become one of the largest and most successful youth choirs in the country. I’m so proud of that accomplishment and that part of my legacy.
- Written at least three novels that have never seen the light of day other than for my own amusement. Written a few short stories that were on short lists for literary journals. I’ve also religiously kept personal journals for years, and continue to dream of writing novels some day that will actually sit on the bookshelves of readers everywhere…I just haven’t settled yet on the right story to tell.
- Studied history and classic civilizations; I adore history and feel the world would be a much better place if we truly strove to understand where we come from.
- Studied German as a second language, and gotten pretty good at it.
- Called people of all socioeconomic groups, ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and religions friends.
- Been a part of an exciting startup with potential to grow to a national level, and learned a lot about business and entrepreneurship along the way as a result; making my list of skill sets diverse and long.
- Managed a medical practice that ultimately failed; partly because of mistakes made by me, and partly due to circumstances beyond my control.
- Started – but not finished – college. Currently still standing at junior level status.
- Been addicted to prescription pills; I’ve had to go to in-patient rehab to try and shake this addiction. My addiction led to me having a criminal record, and even meant I spent time on probation as well as a little bit of time in jail.
- Been in an abusive multi-year relationship with a man several therapists have now determined is potentially a Narcissist and a Psychopath.
- Had moments of incredible courage, where I learned I could survive anything…and have also had moments of extreme cowardice and insecurity, when I betrayed my morals and my principles in favor of trying to keep the peace. I’ve told lies to smooth over an uncomfortable situation or to avoid a painful conversation. I’ve done things that embarrass me when I think of it. And I’ve learned from it all.
So…that’s my list. (At least part of it.) And guess what? I’m still standing!
Moreover, I’m not a bad person (though I suppose if you speak with my ex he might tell you otherwise; he’s fond of painting me out as Satan’s daughter at this point, but I’ve made peace with that too).
What am I? I’m just…me. A woman four months away from her 30th birthday, looking back on what feels like a hundred-year lifetime worth of memories and experiences and lessons. Nothing more, nothing less.
I’ll slowly tell my story, and you can decide if you like me, or not. But one thing you won’t ever be able to do is pull skeletons out of my closet to hit me with; because I’m freeing them from the closet myself. Speaking my truth. And hopefully, by doing so, offering some insight to others, or giving some relief to anyone going through a hard time, or even just showing a person – just one – out there who feels alone that they can survive whatever it is they’re going through. That it will be okay.
We’re all just trying to get through this life; to be happy and find what gives us joy. I believe that. I’m more than simply my statistics; more than a caucasian woman who grew up in a middle class household. More than a recovering addict or an ex-felon. More than an agnostic. More than “a millennial” or “a college dropout” or “an entrepreneur” or “a businesswoman” or “a writer” or “a Chief Operations Officer”.
I’m me. I’m all of those things combined, and so much more. And as I try to take everyone as they are, rather than what their statistics tell me they should be…I hope all of you will return the favor, and take me as I am too.
This is just the beginning. I invite others to approach me with stories they think are worth sharing too. Or with problems, wounds and battle scars they need help healing. And then ultimately encourage everyone to find commonalities, to empathize with one another, and to see above all else that the journey of life is just that: a journey. There is no “right path”…there are just various paths that we walk.
And for a few minutes…I invite everyone to walk this path together.