Republished with permission by Jacque Saltsman
Someone asked me that question the other day and it stunned me. Me! The life enthusiast, activist, celebrator, joy-pusher, traveler, the one who cries from happiness. I have a bucket list a mile long, but I couldn't answer the question. One year. That kind of urgency changes things.
I felt an inkling of that urgency when I turned 40. It was a combination of urgency (Get out of my way. I'm 40 now and I don't have time to be jerking around with situations or people who don't jive with what I'm doing and where I'm headed) and a sense of empowerment. (I've been alive for 40 years now. I've been through some shit and have lots of wisdom to show for it. I no longer need to give a fuck what other people or this society thinks of me. I've got lives to change!)
But, one year to live... that is urgency on a whole new level. What would I do?
Then I got quiet and it came to me.
I would start shouting from the rooftops for every woman who is hiding because of shame, to come together so they could all see that they weren't alone.
I would tell them all how beautiful and strong they are. I would tell them it wasn't their fault and even if it was, they have been forgiven. I would tell them they deserve to forgive themselves.
I would tell them to cut the bullshit. The world needs them and we will no longer tolerate the shame that society lays on us or we put on ourselves.
I would desperately plead with them to stop wasting their gifts and energy wishing they were something they are not. Because what they are, no matter what that is, is beautiful, valuable and worthy.
I would point to our current leadership and political climate and beg them to get their faces, talents, and energy out there. Because if they haven't noticed... we need their hearts and minds OUT THERE.
I would scream all of this because I know what it feels like. I've been there. I've worn the masks. I know the pain and anxiety that's caused from shame and hiding. I know the fear, self-loathing, dread and heaviness that comes with living in shame. It freaking sucks and it's the saddest WASTE of time, energy, love, beauty and precious life I know. I also know that I'm not the only one who's been there. I can say all this because my wounds have healed into scars and from those scars I can love and serve from the bottom of my heart.
So, instead of waiting for some dreaded prognosis to tell me I only have one year to live, I am begging and pleading with women NOW.
Dear WOMEN (and my brave MEN friends):
Stop tolerating shame in your life. Stop justifying it. Stop hiding it.
Start talking about it. Ask for help. Get support.
Bring whatever IT is into the light so it can no longer have so much power over you.
You have suffered enough.
You don't need to beat yourself up any longer.
You can handle this. The world can handle this.
The world and your tribe need you just as you are.
No one is expecting perfection but you.
We can't change the past. All we can do is live, learn, love and serve now.
We can heal. You've already healed.
I know it might feel like the scariest thing in the world, but you can do this.
You are not alone. You are never alone. We are all in this together.
So, when you see me out there on my freedom rampage against shame, feel free to join in. The more voices the better. And in case no one has told you recently (or you just haven't been listening):
I see you. I hear you. I love you just the way you are, my friend.
And I really want to know.
What would you do if you only had one year to live?
Jacque Saltsman is a Healer and Life Coach committed to the empowerment and healing of willing and adventurous souls locally and globally. She can be found at jacquesaltsman.com