I was posting last night on Facebook that my brain is all over the place and how I always have the impulse to share, or perhaps over-share, what’s going through my head. I asked, is there such a thing as over-sharing, and where is the line? Surely some things are better left unsaid? But then I feel fairly certain that I would tend to err on the side of over-sharing, seeing vulnerability as a vehicle towards increased intimacy.
Sara commented, “There is some True Magic to be tempered in NOT saying everything, too. I will spend the rest of my life examining this. But it may be better discussed IN PERSON, over days, than in a pithy reply on FB. IMHO, that is.”
I was instantly overwhelmed with longing to be with Sara, in person, discussing such matters for days.
Is the drive to share in risky ways on Facebook a proxy for this longing for presence? Or perhaps the drive to write at all? What is it that I’m trying to express or learn through writing? How deeply do I want to be known? Touched?
Writing, even the riskiest writing, can be a buffer, a thick , felted layer of mediated experience between me and you. It seems counterintuitive, but in some ways it can be a form of hiding. Here, I’ll cloak myself in some distracting words, I’ll try to throw in some things so you’ll know me a bit more, but ultimately, I’m crafting, editing, asynchronous, showing you only what I choose to show.
From 1990 to 2000 I was in therapy with a man named Chris. He was the first, although not the last, therapist I ever had. For most of that decade, I would not only show up to appointments to talk, but would bring with me letters I’d written to him between sessions. Words upon words upon words. There might be hundreds of them. I wonder if he still has them. I would write all the things I felt I couldn’t say to his face. I would write so I could feel connected to him when I wasn’t with him, which was most of the time. I think of some of the words I wrote that felt so terrible, so embarrassing, so delicate, so violent, so unspeakable. I literally could not speak them. I remember what it felt like to hand over those letters, observe him reading them, my heart in my throat. At least I had a chance to see his face while he read, although he was always careful to be composed. It was hard to meet his gaze when he looked up.
I wish he had asked me to stop writing for a while and just be present, to try to direct the energy through my heart, my eyes, my mouth, instead of my mind.
I spent a very large part of my life feeling profoundly disembodied. It’s really not that long ago when I began actively shedding my convictions around the primacy of intellect, leaning hard on the supposed rewards I might receive for being heady or smart. This once seemed like a reasonable way to cope with the insult of having a body at all, let alone a female body, let alone a body laden with wildly fluctuating, often unbearable feelings.
I think part of the reason for my disembodiment was my rage and helplessness in the face of a culture of staggering, entrenched disconnection, rampantly destructive of souls. As a teenager I used to imagine that my spirit was sequestered in my big toe. It doesn’t surprise me that I would go into wholesale flight from all the rest of me. I don’t think I could have imagined that I would want to reclaim embodiment at any point, although that’s what I’m doing now, in my 40s.
When I drove 10,000 miles last summer, traveling around the U.S., a huge motivator for me was the desire to be Present with people. The urgent voice in my head kept saying, show up, show up, show up. Many of them I had never met in person before. The ones I had met before were people I rarely got to see. All of them, however, were more than words on a page, or a status update on Facebook, or a set of memories of shared experiences. They were animate, breathing, kinetic beings, seeking connection and intimacy just as I was. Disembodied words might have brought us together, or kept us going between face-to-face meetings, but ultimately words would not suffice. Only breathing the same air, having eye contact, and embracing would do. That was what I wanted, that Presence. That’s what I wanted to practice, to receive, and to offer.
What could I possibly write that would compare? What turn of phrase could measure up to the welcoming face, the listening ear, the tilt of the head?
Enough writing for now. I think I’ll listen to the birds, and make my plans to show up some more.