Photo credit: Brené Brown I recently read the book "Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." by Brené Brown...

Dare to Rise Strong

Photo credit: Brené Brown

I recently read the book "Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." by Brené Brown. I'd heard a couple of the author's Ted Talks before, but hadn't read any of her books yet. Then the chronic illness Facebook group I'm in decided to start a book club, and this was the first book they recommended. What an awesome book! I am so glad I decided to join in on the reading fun. Today's post isn't a typical book review, because I'm not a book critic. Instead it's about what I got out of the book, which was quite a bit.
"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."
For starters, this book is about why we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable. The reason being because it's the only way to live a full and authentic life. It's difficult for most of us, if not all of us, to do this. Being vulnerable means we will inevitably get hurt. Our instincts kick in and we immediately resort to fight or flight to protect ourselves. Especially if we were never taught how to correctly identify and deal with our emotions, specifically shame, we'll end up guarding ourselves over all sorts of things, even seemingly insignificant ones. Instead we need to realize that all this pain and discomfort is worth it so that we can truly live and love to our fullest extent.

Sebastian 10/03/2009
The first thing that came to mind when trying to think of a photo that represents vulnerability, was pictures of me with my babies when they were first born. I can't think of anything that makes me as vulnerable as parenting. It's the scariest thing I've ever done in my life, by far. Not like cliff diving scary, but love scary. True, unconditional love. Allowing yourself to love anything that much means opening yourself to endless hurt. We hurt when our kid's hurt, and growing up means lots of hurts. If you're anything like me, then simply the thought of anything bad happening to your kids causes you immediate discomfort. But we know it's inevitable, they will get hurt. They will experience pain, illness, heart break, and loss. And as their parents, we'll be right there suffering alongside them. But we'll also be there to teach them it's okay to hurt, feel shame and discomfort, and how to get back up.

Oscar 12/22/2013
"We own our stories so we don't spend our lives being defined by them or denying them."
The next big vulnerable spot in my life is of course my history with an eating disorder. Which leads me into the next topic in this book that really spoke to me. That was the idea of owning our stories. This section really helped my brain make a connection it had long been searching for. The answer to why, oh why, do I have that urge to share my eating disorder story? It's painful to recall, even more so to write down and share with the world, but I do it anyway. I always thought it was because I wanted to help others like myself, and that is true. But it's more than that. It's that desire to do exactly what that quote says. To not be defined by it or to spend my life denying it. I tried denial and avoidance for a long time, preferring to pretend I didn't have a problem, even after I was far down the road to recovery. I liked to tell myself the worst was in the past so there was just no point in thinking about it, talking about, or sharing it. But that never worked. It wouldn't stay bottled up. I could feel it in there like a time bomb. Either share it or it will explode and take me down with it.

So instead I shared my story. First it was just writing occasionally in a journal that no one ever read. Then it was little bits about it on this blog. And now it's the goal to write it all out, which will likely fill a whole book. And to figure out how to get the story to the people that will be helped by it the most. Then I think I will finally feel like I did it, like I shed myself of that definition and denial.

The rest of the book was about how to get our asses back up after they've been kicked. That's "The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." part. The Reckoning is recognizing your emotions and that something is triggering them. And then being curious about why and how that is happening. The Rumble is the struggle to figure it out, the challenge and the uncomfortable part. The Revolution is the result of coming out on top of that struggle. This process will always change who we are.

Of course this part also brought me back to my own story, and how it followed that same path. I didn't know that's what was happening, and it sure took a long time. But once that real revolution part happened, the urge to share my story became too strong to ignore. Because I realized I had survived something really hard and there was no reason for me to feel shame over it. Instead I should be proud.

I've never thought of myself as a strong or brave person. I have as many fears and phobias as the next person and I avoid most things that cause a strong adrenaline rush. Whenever my fight or flight kicks in, my response is always flight. Run away and fast! This is really uncomfortable and there's no reason to go through it so run! But when it came to my eating disorder, running meant death. I had to stay and fight. And the fact that I was able to come out on top after a serious ass kicking, is something I am proud of. It made me want to be braver in more of my life. Because while every moment of it was insanely uncomfortable, in every way, it was worth it for the transformation my life has gone through. From a broken shell of a human being to one full of love, for others and finally, for myself.

So if you're looking for a little inspiration, motivation, or help understanding some of your emotions and struggles, pick up Rising Strong, or probably any of Brené Brown's books as I'm sure they're all wonderful. It will force you to think about things you'd rather not, but it will be so worth it.


  1. Wow...I think I need to get this book. I have lots of difficulties with my emotions and vulnerability. Trust is a factor for me which is why I don't show either of them to very many people, and I think I need to change that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and story!

    1. It is such a great book, I think everybody should read it. She has several other books out and even a brand new one, so plenty to choose from too. Thanks for reading Carrie!