My last post here was almost exactly a year ago. I haven’t written. I wanted to, just didn’t know how. How could I be real without getting REAL? How could I be vulnerable without being VULNERABLE? How could I tell the truth without TELLING THE TRUTH? I would have given anything to figure out this formula but instead I was stuck in a stand -off with my integrity. Faking it was not an option. Neither was using my blog as a dumping ground to play out the things I couldn’t say in real life. Thanks to a profound podcast I listened to somewhere along the line of Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle, I knew enough to know I would have very clearly been writing from open wounds rather than the healing scars I am today.
I’ve lived my life in a way I like to call snug. I have always been pretty tightly wound. I am a rock star at white knuckling the hell out of life. Clenched could be my middle name. During particularly stressful times, I have been known to wake up in the morning with my legs straight out in-front of me, one over the other, arms crossed over my chest, ass cheeks clenched and lips pursed. Basically, I am awesome at being the opposite of chill. I was, and still can be, a quintessential tight ass. I try my damnedest to make you (and me) believe that I can roll with it and be that cool chick. I have yearned to be laid back and zen and all those desirable qualities I admire in other people. I have, at times, put on a convincing show. However, it looked more like this…. High anxiety-on the inside & I got my shit together back the eff off-on the outside. Not matching. Very exhausting. No bueno.
The way I have been approaching writing is similar to my snow angel making. Creating a snow angel is one of those joy of a child moments. Laying on your back in the cold white fluffy stuff, caring more about the moment than the cold. Looking up at the open sky remembering how small but connected you really are to the vastness of it all. You can’t help but be completely present in your skin while you are waving yourself around creating something beautiful. But it is inevitable that you eventually need to get up. How do you get up without somehow ruining the beautiful pure snow angel? Because I never found an answer to that question, my tight ass self just avoided the whole thing. I’d think about it. I’d imagine myself laying down in the snow and being that free gypsy snow angle making soul. But due to the imperfection part of the gig, I’d decide to forgo all the joy of angel making.
In the past, blogging was my solid attempt at some real truth telling. Just enough for this wound tight chick to feel like I was letting go a bit. Sometimes, I would even be good at it. I would write from the gut and I would hear myself coming off the page. I would see my own truth staring back at me. This felt solid and true. Sharing it was freeing. For a little bit. Then, the vulnerability hangover would set it. I’d be left feeling overly exposed and terrified that my, “ have it all together” front would be called out as just that, a front. I wasn’t ready for that because, then what? So, I showed you my “together” parts. The parts I shaped and molded and sounded shiny, happy, and sane.
The few years prior to last October were all sorts of hard. ( A story that I am most definitely writing, but a story for another time) As life was falling apart around me, my white knuckling skills were tested. I held on for dear life. I got up every day, took a deep breath and showed up. The majority of the time, hanging on by a thread. With sharp inhales to avoid the imminent tears, I would count the minutes until I could be with one of my safe, warm people and finally exhale. Those people I didn’t have to pretend with. The ones I could talk about the whole complicated messy truth with. The ones that loved me in all my imperfect and anxious glory. I didn’t have many. I chose very carefully. At the suggestion of my trusted therapist, I could count this group of safe, warm folks on one hand.
Last October, I followed my gut and called one of those people. I needed to exhale some stuff I had been holding in. This was somebody I loved, trusted, and thought very highly of. After moving away from our family and friends five years prior, this person, this friend, had become family. However, over the last few months, our friendship had started to feel distant and funky and I couldn’t shake it. A lot of which could have been totally explainable and understandable given our life circumstances at the time. I was making my own personal excuses and rationalizing it all away until it just felt more painful and scary to ignore than to deal with. I loved this person too much to let it linger. Plus, I missed my friend. I reached out and came to know a truth I wasn’t ready for. I regrettably discovered was that this person was not who I thought they were. It suddenly felt as though all that time I had spent rationalizing and making excuses for this person I thought was a life-long friend, had been mocked. This person that had been telling me they loved me and pretending to be my friend, was saying and doing things that friends, people who love you, just don’t do. The details of this story are just that, details. They are details that are part of a story that is not all mine. I am not willing to share out of respect for all involved. What I can say is that I had been betrayed by one of my safe, warm people. By one of those I loved most.
My heart broke.
In all my pre-puberty, middle school, high school, sorority years……I had never felt the sting of another woman betraying the bond of friendship like this before. To say it was disorienting would be a total understatement. I cracked me in places I didn’t even know were a part of me. I was left with only cutting words and a trail of unanswered questions. There are always two sides to every story. There are always different perceptions of the way things are felt and understood. Yet, due to the bizarrely abrupt end to our friendship, to this day, I have no idea what her truth is. Just like she doesn’t know mine. Feeling unseen and unheard is an incredibly heavy hurt.
Up to that moment, my heart had been working overtime holding this ship together. It was tired. When it broke, the only thing left, and believe me I would have tried anything else if I could, was surrender. I could no longer hold it off. I was being wrung out. It was as if the universe came, grabbed both ends of my life and started pulling, twisting and squeezing as hard as it could. My anxious insides were no longer tucked safely within my rigid, organized, & pretty boxes. They were now haphazardly and messily dripping out of me and from every corner. Putting on a happy, even neutral, face was a joke. My outsides were beginning to show my insides. I couldn’t fake it. And I don’t just mean I couldn’t in a dramatic, hand thrown up to my forehead sighing loudly way. I mean I physically could NOT pretend that the absolute shit storm I was in the middle of was not happening. All the white knuckling that I had been so damn committed too was doing nothing for me anymore. I lost my grip.
I spent months with a lump in my throat so big I thought it was permanent. If someone looked at me sideways I didn’t know if I would drop kick them or crumble at their feet in a puddle. I didn’t know who I could trust. Safe and warm people were not so safe and warm anymore.
No matter how tight I curled up, snug was just not working for me anymore. And still, opening was terrifying. My heart ached so much that I thought that if I just stretched my arms wide enough, I might crack. Reaching, for anything, felt almost dangerous. But all the pieces of my life had just been scattered all around me. Those tidy pretty boxes were long gone. If I wanted to pick up the pieces and know any sort of safe, warm feeling again, I had no choice. It was time to take a deep breath, sit down and settle into the mess. It was time to find some sort of new normal in the imperfections of it all. I had to learn how to make snow angles in the mess.
There was plenty of room for me but, what I was quickly becoming aware of, only me. If I was going to learn to reach for safe and warm, I had reach within. This was an inside job. I had to discover what safe and warm felt like in me, before I could trust to feel it with anyone else. Your thoughts and opinions of me, or anything for that matter, became none of my damn business. This was about Rebecca, getting to know Rebecca. All parts included.
I had just been betrayed by someone I thought was a lifer and that betrayal happened to be the last pin pulled that broke the grip, BUT this wringing out? This was me. I cannot and will not blame any other person for any of it. They were just a catalyst. A catalyst for something I never saw coming.
This person I once called a friend, gave me a gift far greater than her friendship. She has given me the opportunity to meet myself. Someone who is stronger than she knew. Someone who now knows she can make snow angles in the mess.
And for that I will always be grateful.
I am settling in, looking up, and ready to show up in the hopes of creating something beautiful, no matter how messy it may be. I am committed to being all of me in all my imperfect glory.
More to come….