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If you know of Brene’ Brown, you know what the title is referring to. If you haven’t heard of her, check out her Ted Talk that affected so many people and brought the topic of shame and vulnerability to the forefront.  Along with her 20 years of experience, she is insightful, real and you feel like you have known her for years.  She definitely gives you something to think about!

In Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, she talks about what true courage and vulnerability is when you put yourself in the “Arena” – knowing you will be heckled from the audience, but doing it anyway because it is your truth. Brene’ is spot on when she talks about being courageous and potentially getting your ass kicked in the process. I relate it to disciplining your kids or a boot camp class – It is not fun and does not always feel good, but you know it is the right thing to do.

Speaking of feelings… Aren’t they interesting? We are so programmed to protect ourselves, that if a “not so good” feeling comes up, we will do anything to get rid of it. Sometimes that means doing the exact opposite of what has always seemed true and right for us. It means going to a place of vulnerability, and that is a scary.

I am going to get a little deep and real with you on my recent experience with the Arena. I am not writing this for any sympathy or accolades, but simply because maybe it will help others. My Arena story is my marriage of 20 years. We are both great people, have raised amazing kids and created Pacific Perks Coffee LLC from adversity in our life. My “Was-band” and I believe in the good of people and we both continue to contribute to the community. We also brought together many amazing friendships. We often struggled, but we adjusted and persevered, always plugging forward. I loved this man! However, both of our “stuff” affected our relationship. My feeling that I need to fix people and looking for the wounded (on a subconscious level) was a perfect/imperfect match for him and what he needed from his “stuff,” and so the unhealthy dance was created.

I will never forget the day the light switch went off in my head and something had changed in me. I knew my life would be different from that point on and I was scared to death!  Little did I know, I was heading for the arena.

Saying goodbye to a marriage of 20 years and breaking the hearts of my daughters was just the beginning. What would people think? Their jaws literally dropped! My girls’ friends didn’t believe it when they told them we were divorcing. Though the divorce was somewhat mutual, I was saying goodbye to our family unit … and a great guy who struggles from MS. How could I do that? I didn’t want to do that, but I knew in my heart my truth and HAD to be true to myself and where I was at. Our relationship was not healthy anymore for either of us and I had to take honor that realization. I spent 3 months in a therapist’s office waiting for “it” to come back, until I realized the “it” was not coming back.

Making that life decision put me in the Arena and I knew it was going to be hard, but I really had no idea what would really play out. My “Was-band” and I were able to sort things out for our kids and business very amicably overall, we were doing a great job co-parenting and I had the support of my parents and brother as well as some amazing friends.  

What I didn’t expect is the “heckling from the stands” from my best friend/sibling. I expected in the divorce to lose my “Was-band,” but I didn’t expect to lose these people … the people you tell everything to. Those who see your tears, your struggles, your perseverance – and had been so supportive through it all. To me, these two people were as close to my life as they could be without physically living inside the walls of my home.  

There was and still is a lot of pain around being put in the Arena. Would I go back if I could? No. Would I make the same decision again? Abso-frickin-lutely! I had to listen to myself. The message was so clear from deep inside and it wouldn’t go away. I tell people not in a million years would I have thought it would have played out this way. I would have said, “You were crazy!”  But that is the interesting thing about life and humans with “stuff” – we all have it. Being vulnerable is scary, there is risk involved and you can’t always control the outcome.

Though vulnerability is scary, being true to yourself is a gift! I am at the point where I pat myself on the back because it took a lot of (insert cuss word here) courage to say goodbye to my family unit, a good man who has MS and the heartache that goes with it. I thought I was just being true to that voice inside; never did I realize the amount of courage it took to play out my truth.   

I am not saying that if you are thinking of divorce, woman-up and getter done! I am just saying whether it is – Starting a business, saying goodbye to unhealthy relationships, demanding to be treated with kindness and respect, following a dream, etc … Take the leap for you. YOU are worth it!  Will it be champagne and roses all the time? Nope! You will be heckled, sweaty, bloody, you will second guess yourself and you will be humbled … But you will listen to your inner voice, pick yourself back up and move forward to your calling and truth.

What I can tell you for sure is that new doors and experiences will open up for you. You won’t regret listening to yourself and going after your truth and that which burns inside of you.

My experience has opened many new doors: my daughters are thriving, my “Was-band” and I want the best for each other, I have more friends that support than ones that don’t, I am in a relationship with a wonderful man, I take care of myself and I take time alone. My heart still aches at times and I still shake my head in bewilderment of where I was and where I am now in both the good and the hurt. But that my friends is the Arena, and damn I am proud I had the courage to put myself there.
-Natalie