I just finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton's book "Carry On Warrior" (she is also known as Momestery), and, let me just say, I cannot write like her. But every so often, I come across her sentences and I have to stop because, like me, she hides her pain under a thick coat of humor and she just gets it.
A lot of it is on parenting so I don't really understand yet, but it helps me understand my mom a little bit more. Which is not always good, because I am a protector. Protectors like to absorb everyone else's worries and pain like sponges, so other people don't have to hurt. I am trying to release that role, which sometimes feels like me being a dark cloud that sprays all of the bad emotions into my family and friends' faces. My apologies to the victims of the Megan cloud.
One of her essays talks about a secret self and a public self, the secret self is secret and the public self is the one the world sees. I don't have a public self. Well, I do, but I have to reach for it. People who know me in real life know that I lack a filter about 95% of the time. Whatever I'm thinking usually just slides right out of my mouth.
Honestly, I'm usually just as surprised by what I say as the person I'm talking to.
On our way home from the conference, which both of us were emotionally exhausted, I mentioned to my mother that my head hurt. I was thinking that this was a perfectly normal thing to say because I was uncomfortable with the silence and after three days of being heavily medica.ted my brain was starting to scream louder and louder and for the love of god can someone please make it stop.
My mother gave an exasperated sigh and asked, "why have you always got to tell me about every single little ache and pain?" I gave some bullshit answer by simply breathing in and hoping that the words would be able to form a coherent and reasonable argument on their way out my mouth.
But the truth is I am scared of a secret self. I figured out pretty young that my kind of different was Bad and no one else talked about a brain that just won't stop and fears that are irrational but just won't go away; lying awake late at night wondering if while you were in the shower someone slipped in the house and murdered your entire family. My public self was good grades and no negativity; but always keeping people at arm’s length, just in case.
I am very very afraid of my secret self. I think sometimes that translates into I'm afraid of me. So, I keep everything out where everyone can see it and say, "it's okay, and it's not that bad. We still love you". Then I can accept that I am not the World’s Worst; I don't have to become a hermit high in the Andes mountains with a large herd of alpacas and make blankets from their wool to send down to the villages by way of dogsled like some mystical Elfin Santa. But as a consequence of my insecurity, my family and friends know every inch of what happens in my life.
It makes me feel guilty. I second guess. I assume that everyone else drinks in the pain of their friends the way I do, and I feel bad because I had no right to give them that burden to carry. I come to fear the question "how are you?" Because I know the minute it's asked, I'll exhale every detail and inhale the smothering and oppressive force of shame. (I’ve learned to take a full breath now before answering that question, because for the love of all that is holy, not everyone needs to know about your deaf dog that also has anxiety.)
Since my first hospital stay, I've been open about my messiness. I think it was so easy because I could say "but don't worry, I'm better now! It was a one-time thing, won't ever happen again!" Then it happened again, and I lied. I lied because I wanted to protect the people I love. I constructed my own personal bubble to keep the bad stuff in, where the only one suffering was me. When that bubble was very rudely, publicly, and unexpectedly burst, I had to un-learn keeping secrets. My secret self went completely out the window. My mom told me "it's so in to be vulnerable right now" so why hasn't anyone talked about the fuckton (it's an accurate unit of measurement for feelings) of guilt that comes along with it?
My public self comes out when I'm too guilty, or too scared. Anxiety and Depression have control of my public self. It's been that way since I was a child. Because they were the ones telling me that if people knew how messy and struggling I was, no one would want me. But what I've learned in the past few months of over sharing my entire life....
It's okay. When you're vulnerable, other people see that it's okay to be vulnerable too. The world will not implode just because you revealed that you're human. Make sure they know that the street goes both ways, that you are always open to hear their problems too. Be a sounding board, not a sponge. Destroy the idea that certain problems are “bigger” or that someone has it “worse”. Pain is relative.
I'm proposing a merger of my secret and public self. One where I control who knows what, not my anxiety. Where I can take a deep breath in and out before I tell anyone how I’m doing, without feeling guilty for sharing too much or holding something back. Anxiety is not on board yet, but with the help of Remeron and Ativan, I think she'll come around.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!