I'm having trouble knowing how to start this post, but I think the best way to start it is with an apology.
Something's been happening the past few weeks ... no, I'm going to be honest -- the past few months. I know when it started and I know why, but I don't know exactly when it consumed me -- overtook me in its gaping maw -- and now I know the only way out is to tell the truth.
Somehow, someway, somewhere ... I stopped keeping it real. Because I got spooked. I got spooked pretty freakin' bad actually.
Most of the posts that I've written in the past few months have been part of a spiral into generic, sterile, bleached-smile-happiness or forced attempts at humor because I haven't wanted to write about anything darker, or more personal, or more real.
The personal stuff is still in there though -- in fact, I think it's the reason writers write. In order to feed that compulsive need to get out what's real. I think even fiction writers do this to some degree. My husband once told me that the books he reads sometimes feel more real to him than real life, and I get that.
ANYway ... to summarize: some people do yoga -- I write.
Except when I don't get it out, it starts to build up inside of me, the pressure building, until a little escapes -- sometimes I write stuff, entire posts, and then I delete them right away because I don't want to be tempted to hit publish, and then sometimes I don't get there quick enough and they end up on my blog.
And I try to own my truths ... I really do. I try to own them and not apologize for things like still being hung up on what I did to some boy in high school, but then I'm at a neighborhood party and someone mentions that they read my blog and that its all very personal, and they're not saying it in a way that's like "You go girl" they're saying it in a way that's more "Aren't you worried about who's reading this?"
Yes. I'm worried.
I'm worried all the time.
I'm worried that my boss, or my neighbors, or the people who buy my magazines are reading this.
I'm worried that my son will one day read it.
I'm worried that my family is reading it.
I'm worried all the time and it's crippling my ability to write anything of substance.
I know when this started and I know why. And in the interest of telling the truth, I'm going to go there.
This started last Easter, when I had a complete meltdown at a family function, and wrote about it, and my dad's sisters pitched a fit. Because I called them mean. Because I called them a five-headed dragon.
And ever since that happened my relationship with them has gone from bad to nonexistent. The aunts that are still speaking to me hug me as though they are hugging their least-favorite person in the history of all time. My grandma has made hand wringing her favorite pastime. My dad has been dragged into the fray, and he has fought for me and with me, but mostly his eyebrows move a little closer when the topic of his family comes up, and I know that means he's sad, and you know what? It's kind of killing me.
And when I talk about this with my friends, I tell them I'm relieved. And it's true, I AM relieved, because the games are officially over -- my aunts know how I feel now, and they know where I stand, and that's a relief. I spent a lot of years wondering why they didn't like me -- obsessing over it, actually -- and then I spent some more years being really angry about it, and now I'm just kind of done. If they don't like me, I'm cool with that.
But then I think about my dad. I think about how one of his sisters had to explain to him what a blog is, right before she showed him mine. I wonder if he remembered the URL and, if he did, I wonder how each and every word is going to make him feel. And then my wonder turns to worry. Because the truth is, life for my dad would be so much easier if I wasn't me, and I could just get along with his family.
And typing those words makes me feel like there's a vice clamp around my stomach. I think one of the best things I've done in the past couple years is move toward a place of self-acceptance, a place where I could stop apologizing for being exactly the person I've always been.
It's been hard, because I'm not proud of many things about myself. I'm moody, and bossy, and sometimes abrasive. I'm impulsive, and I cry during confrontations, which is really embarrassing. I tend to make flash judgments about people without being fully informed. And I have a big mouth -- a really, really big mouth.
And I didn't come to these self-realizations suddenly -- I have always known these things about myself, and it's made it easy to assume that if I could just change, then many of my problems would magically disappear.
Luckily for me, there are a handful of people in this world who love me in spite of my flaws.
There's also a handful of people who don't. And it shouldn't matter.
A couple years ago, I got into an argument with my dad about his sisters over the phone. It was late and I was sitting in a Denny's parking lot, and my dad hung up on me. I started crying that heaving-sobs type of crying, and then I called him back, and in between gasps for air, I told him They don't like me, and he shouted back So what?? I like you!! It should be enough that I like you!!
And, oh my gawd, those words stuck to me like a bad cough.
It should be enough, and ever since my dad said those words to me I've tried my hardest to get to that place where I could stop focusing on the people who don't like me and start enjoying the people who do.
It's been a journey, and this blog has helped. This blog has helped more than you could ever know.
Which brings me back to my apology. I really am sorry -- especially to the people who left nice comments, or who emailed me privately to say thanks for writing about that topic that I needed to read about, or whatever.
Every single kind word that you guys sent my way helped me finally find the courage to be okay with being me, and holy shit that's, like, the nicest gift I've ever been given.
So, I'm sorry, and I'm working on it, and this is the first step.
Thanks for reading.