And then I realized...

It was the first time I'd met her, and our conversation explored a variety of topics.

We had a similar background, and we were both eager to share our experiences.

It was an intimate conversation — each of us feeling out the landscape, exploring what was acceptable, what wasn't.

I was sharing what brought me into the legal profession, and my underlying story.

"Underneath it all, I have a story that I'm a loser".

I had another forty things lined up to say after that.

Each one of them was fascinating; A nugget of wisdom.

But they were also a distraction. Each one of them was a pull away from the impact of what I'd shared.

"Underneath it all, I have a story that I'm a loser".

I stopped myself, and put my attention on my breath.

I breathed deeply, up into my shoulders, and down into my stomach.

I made eye contact with her and shared "I just want to let that have the impact that it deserves. I don't want to run past it".

In some ways, I was lying to her.

On the surface, I really didn't want to let it have its impact. I wanted to run past it — keep her entertained with my brilliance. Tell her more stories that made it really clear I knew the deeper story wasn't true.

I breathed again.

Then she shared. "I can never do enough"

That time I really felt her. My heart broke in that moment. I felt the impact of that truth.

And then I asked her, "This might sound weird, but may I give you a hug?"

And then I realized that I was no longer the same person I was two years ago.