I’m not sure what I’m doing here, I mean, writing. Who am I to take myself, in a stricken-space, and do this? Won’t I just utter torturous phrases that either make no sense or are so liable to be misconstrued that I had better nip all that damage in the bud? Wouldn’t it be better to be silent?
Inner Wise Woman says: Do it.
Do it. Have you learned nothing? Here you are, reading this book by Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) and she is telling you what I tell you, that you must be brave, that there is no antidote to shame and isolation, no path to love and belonging, but to tell your story.
Yeah, but she said to tell your story to people who have earned the right to hear it.
So maybe you can practice some discernment and figure out what to say and what not to say on a blog.
You think I’m any good at that?!
You think you’re always spilling the beans but there’s so much you haven’t said. Listen, I’m not going to strong-arm you. You want my guidance— here it is. You can use this blog any way you want. There aren’t any rules. Do it for yourself. Practice not minding what anyone else perceives or how they react. Practice not being polished at all. Practice reaching out in the ways that feel possible and even the ways that feel impossible. What are your alternatives? Festering? Tying yourself in emotional knots and addictively playing solitaire on the computer? Stop sinking. Start swimming. And all those people you think are so ready to judge you, or the ones you’re so sure have already dismissed you—seriously, tell them: I want to live more than I want your acceptance.
It’s funny how I immediately reach for the most academic way of presenting things in the wake of that tussle with Inner Wise Woman. It’s essentially—here, let me throw up some defenses, okay? I thought—I know, I’ll write about how I keep thinking about Dunbar’s number. And another part of me said in no uncertain terms, you are not going to write about Dunbar’s fucking number. You are not going to hide behind Dunbar, GODDAMNIT. You are going to have your own words.
Agh. My own words. What are they? They terrify me. They are words like anguish, and feeling so bereft I could die, and I must have screwed up so royally to get into this stricken-space. The words ring of failure, doubt, profound loneliness, desperation. They feel shameful to pronounce. They feel like handfuls of burning worms.
I don’t think it does me good to be silent. And I don’t think it’s always the best strategy to only find one or two people to confide in. What happens when my dearest ones can’t always be there? And they can’t. They have their own challenges, their own workloads, their own defenses. I don’t think it’s such a bad strategy to turn to my blog, really. Am I supposed to be upholding an image? Of what? Should I be concerned about how this will affect my future employability or something like that? Listen, employers: I hope you know what you’re getting into, with me being a Real Person. Just don’t put me in PR and we should be okay, okay?
How do I tell my story?
This is the same dilemma that’s been facing me with writing the Book. You know, the BOOK, the thing I practically made a BLOOD OATH to produce.
It feels like everyone is busy and/or pushing me away.
It’s hard to write that, because a few people have tried to find pockets of time for me, efforts that are not unappreciated, and I don’t want to come across as harsh and blaming, and it sounds so negative.
I want to let it stand, though, because it’s how I feel. And I don’t want to dismiss it. It doesn’t have to mean I’m going to wallow in self-pity and not do anything to reach out to others (although in my most anguished moments, I sometimes feel paralyzed). I think there is truth in there about the Culture of Busy. Do I need to explain the Culture of Busy? Do I? I didn’t think so.
I think most people feel like they can’t possibly resist the demands of the Culture of Busy, and how dare I suggest that they be less busy? Don’t I understand? I do understand, actually. And I don’t feel entitled to ask people to be less busy, especially not for me. Because who do I think I am, wanting time with people? And maybe if I would just get with the program and engage in the same busy behaviors and submit to the same institutional forces that the vast majority of people submit to, then I would spend more time with people, side by side on our treadmills, and Lily would spend more time with people, on their kid-sized treadmills, even if we were all just bitching about our circumstances and the Authorities.
Oh, it’s so much easier to indict the Culture of Busy than to get into the very personal stuff about feeling pushed away. Because if I start to look at that, how quickly the shame-spiral starts, and how quickly I become breathless with loss, and how inevitably I blame myself.
I tried to write a blog post a few days ago and got rid of it. It felt too painful. This feels painful, too, but I’m going to let it stand. It’s not meant to be literature, okay? It’s a valve. It’s a demonstration to myself that I can speak words out loud. It’s my way of inviting myself to the land of the living. It’s a prayer from a tired pilgrim.