Tuesday, May 24, 2011
[This post prompted by Motherese --a fabulous blog. Thanks for the food for thought, sweet lady.]
I used to think that I had to be what people wanted me to be, in order to have friends.
If I sensed an eyebrow starting to raise, or heard a mouth escaping gasp from someone while I told a story from my life, without missing a beat, I'd change it up so it would become a harmless, less serious tale - one that would lessen the risk of disapproval. One that would keep the silent judging and labels that don't tell the whole story, away.
I learned, from the reaction of others, that opinions are formed quickly. Assumptions are made, and blame is doled out. I'd see them whisper and nod my story to someone else, as I'd walk away from their small circle. So, I learned.
I learned to not share details of what wasn't pretty, to keep things light and fluffy, and play to what people preferred to hear. I told stories that people liked. Ones that when they'd repeat them, it'd bring more people over, wanting to meet me.
People liked to hear what was happy, funny, and especially what was not different, life lite.
But, what can happen, when you safeguard your real stories inside, is that though you may end up with 20 friends who like the "safe" you, you may not have a single friend with the "real you", who knows who you truly are.
That's what happened to me.
I was in a life where I had no real friend. To lay no blame on them, they thought they had a real friend in me. They had come to like the woman who was an instant show, always with a way to make them laugh. Someone once said to me, "I tell everyone, when you feel down, call Alexandra. She's always up."
The pretend me was always up. The real me was saying to herself, "just make it through today." Again, all my fault. It was me who had decided to keep things hidden, because I had seen how people don't like the messiness of life.
When you are known only to yourself, it's hard to not see others through the mask you wear. They may not see it there, but it's on. Everything you see and hear and participate in, can feel false. It's not the real you with these people, it's the acceptable you, that they are with.
Then I decided to start blogging last year.
Through the incredible gift of all of you who come here to read, I have--for the first time in my life-- spoken, out loud, of who I am, to you. It was here, on this blog, where I typed words out loud-- truths that make up me: my depression, my PPD, my insane overhovering unbalanced love for my children, my father's suicide when I was six, my mother's emotional neglect to her six children, my hilarious attempts at trying to fit into this small town, my dependence on all of you.
I slowly showed you who I was, through a tale or two here and there, sticking my toes in first to check out the water, and no one turned away. No one left. You came back...it was OK that I did not come with a perfect tidy life.
Yes, I used to think that I had to always provide some welcome diversion, a clever anecdote, a memory that would make people laugh, a charming snippet of life in the flesh, entertainment for overworked, under rested moms and parents and people.
I have opened up my baggage to look through, to be inspected. There is nothing to hide anymore. What choice do I have? Open my bags, look through them, and see...I am the person here. Basic human curiosity wants to know who writes these posts. It's just me-- no longer hiding behind words that I think you'll like--so that you'll like me.
I used to be entertaining, to try to get you to like me...so I'd have friends. But, like I said, I'm over that now.
I am the woman who writes this blog, who did not come from a sparkly clean beginning, who isn't always up, who is in love with her family, and who is in love with her readers.
I don't need to offer anything further anymore, I've been made to feel safe, by you.
I stand erect now, I can look you in the eye, confident, because I know you know me, fully. You know who you're talking to.
And I laugh with delight inside, in anticipation, because I can't wait to share all the stories with you that have been waiting inside, finally able to be told.
Stories I've prayed to have someone to tell.
And I can never thank you enough.