I’m always struck by how many people at The Dale can read me like a book. There are days when I am internally churning and think I’m hiding it well. Then I am greeted by concerned looks, words of encouragement and strong hugs from longtime friends and even people I know more peripherally. It is not rare for relative strangers to  approach me and proceed to speak the exact words I need to hear. It’s pretty amazing.

One of the things that I am repeatedly taught at The Dale is how to strip myself of masks, especially on those days when I’m trying to look okay while being anything but. I don’t think it’s that people expect me to lay bare everything going on in my heart. It’s more an invitation to be open about the fact that my struggles are real.

I have the opportunity to be very close to the pain of a lot of people. Yesterday I sat with a friend whose wounds are so bare they almost took my breath away. I realize that in this context I sometimes try to dismiss the weight of my own challenges: what are my struggles in comparison? But then my friend shifts the conversation to me and asks with sincerity about how I’m managing because “Erinn, you have a lot going on”, and I’m reminded: sharing our stuff matters. We both left feeling less alone.

Daring to remove our masks can be a daunting task. What will someone think if I admit x,y, and z? I suppose I wonder if people will love me if I reveal how messed up I am. I can attest to the freedom experienced when I confess my hurts and failures. Space is created for healing and a deep hope. I am grateful to be surrounded by people who routinely call me back when I am trying to hide. While it isn’t comfortable to be read like a book, it turns out it is good.


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