Embrace the mess. That’s why I’m starting this blog. So it seems fitting to start by telling the story of the mess that led me here. Although I didn’t know it yet, this blog actually started a few weeks ago. September 5th had been a REALLY messy night…….
I put my pencil down and look at the clock. 12:13 AM. Shit. I’m nowhere near ready for bed. I sigh to myself and do the familiar countdown to how many hours I have before the amount of sleep I get no longer allows me to function tomorrow. I’m no stranger to the night hours. I usually do my best thinking when the rest of the world is sleeping. But tonight is different. I’m exhausted. I actually WANT to go to bed (strange how things you often wish for, end up happening at the exact moment you don’t want them to). And my brain is fried. But I know I can’t go to bed until I have some sort of plan to get my act together. I owe that much to myself. And to Chad. But damnit, how am I supposed to know how to get my act together when I’m not even sure what the problem is? How do I find out what’s upsetting me when I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been? Or IS that the problem….Can I not just BE happy? Am I waiting for problems? Looking for them? Am I actually creating problems? I mean creating problems in my head or for for real, either way is just not good. Ugh. I sigh again. This is going to take some work.
12:21 AM. I pour a glass of wine and sit back down to face myself. I had recently begun writing in my journal again because I felt like there was no one else who could possibly understand. The writing had been nice; like reconnecting with my oldest and closest friend. I decide reading what I wrote might provide some kind of insight. It’s worked before. So I read the most recent entries, including the one from earlier tonight. I immediately judge myself. Who IS that girl? She sounds weak, scared, needy…..pathetic really. I’m not a fan of her at ALL. As a matter of fact, she sounds a lot like that part of myself that I intentionally left behind a long time ago. Before I turned 30. Before I was married and a stepmom. Before I left my job in Children’s Protective Services. Before I made the decision to MOVE ON from all of the shit in my past (my own shit, the shit I saw, AND the shit that happened to me). All I know is I am not happy to see her. I thought I had all of that nonsense figured out now. This part of me, this messy girl, does not belong here. Not now when I’m finally happy. Where is the strong independent woman I worked so hard to become? The one I (and Chad) have come to expect and depend on? Obviously, the girl in these pages is not welcome and I need to get rid of her. I get up and almost go to bed right then in utter disgust. I almost march right up the stairs with my nose in the air because the “real me” is better than all of this. But even as the thought crosses my mind I know it’s a lie. I sit back down. Damnit. I’m not getting out of this that easy, am I?
12:45 AM. This time I start at the beginning and I tell my internal judge to stay out of it. I look at the word on the front of the journal, “Rethink.” And I try to take the advice. The journals I’ve re-visited from my childhood were organized….even pretty sometimes (there were doodles!). This journal is certainly NOT pretty. It is a hot mess. It’s kind of ugly, heart-wrenching, and hard to read. There are tear-stained rambles, sloppy drunken vents and raw bitter anger. It’s a girl in her late 20’s grappling with the cruel, confusing and extra messy aspects of the real world. Even the entries that are “positive” read more like accusing begs at my future self– “Don’t you DARE forget these happy moments! I mean…. Please!? Please don’t forget these moments? You need them.” It’s a scattered, partial chronicle of the years. The first entry was on February 14, 2012, about a month after Chad and Bri moved in to my house. “Well…that’s not a coincidence,” I think and literally laugh out loud. The entry is simple – a reintroduction to journaling along with an Elizabeth Gilbert quote, “Never forget, you once recognized yourself as a friend.” Fitting. The second one is a short depressing entry about the impact of staring into the “black hole” of humanity. Clearly a reference to my CPS job. Also fitting. As I read through the entries, I let myself recognize them. I empathize with myself and feel it all again. It feels simultaneously familiar and foreign. When I finish, I know the truth. That IS the “real me.” The “real me” is a strong independent woman AND this mess of a girl. I don’t think I get to choose just one.
I suddenly want to reconnect with that part of me. I need to take care of her, love her. She is in serious need of a hug. It’s no wonder it’s hard to read – this part of me was neglected. Why didn’t I write more? Lord knows it would have been helpful during my CPS years. There was so much I left out! Yet there on those pages was so much of who I am. I’m in the words, and I’m also in the blank spaces. There, in black and white, was all of my strength and all of my shame. I feel ashamed right now too. I almost completely walked out on myself an hour ago…too scared to be vulnerable. I thought I was better than my own damn SELF. Shaking my head I realize something, “Wait a minute…but I didn’t. I didn’t walk out! I stayed. I refused to leave and decided to show up for myself.” THAT’s interesting. THAT feels good. It even feels a little bit strong. For the first time in weeks I feel like I’m on to something right.
1:45 AM Before heading up to bed, I walk over to the counter and write a note to my husband, “I’m sorry I’m not strong right now. I’ll work on it.”
The next morning, I was determined to keep my promise. There is no way I am alone in this. Being a woman in this human experience is hard! Shit, Being a HUMAN in this human experience is hard! I opened my Facebook while I was thinking about this and there was Elizabeth Gilbert (one of my heroes) promoting a book from a woman I had never heard of: Glennon Doyle Melton (Author of the very popular blog: Momastery) . The book was called Love Warrior. When I saw that Brene’ Brown (another one of my heroes) had given it a rave review as well, I decided the universe must be telling me something and I practically ran out of work to buy it. I finished that book in epic time (would have been way less if stupid work didn’t get in the way). I couldn’t put it down. There was just so much in this woman’s story I could relate to. Even in the parts I couldn’t relate to, I was still incredibly inspired! She was so honest. So Real. So unashamedly and unapologetically vulnerable. She turned her mess and her struggle, her STORY, into art and inspiration. I wish I could do that.
I spent the next few days thinking about how often I feel like my thoughts and feelings are too messy to be seen by others. Even those who know me the best often get a watered down version. It’s been edited. It’s my story, but with scenes (or some important behind-the-scenes) left out. It’s hard enough for me to learn to accept the really messy parts of me! So keeping it separate feels safe. The world can be cruel, after all.
Yet that strategy suddenly feels laced with shame. It feels cowardly. And it definitely seems to guarantee that I will never feel truly known. So what do I do? Tell all my dirty laundry to anyone who will listen just to prove some point to myself and the world? Suddenly berate all my relationships with a shit-ton of oversharing? No. None of that is going to happen.
OK, So what else might work? Who does it well? Who does vulnerable and truth-telling well? I think back to how inspired I was by Love Warrior. I see it done well in the people I respect and admire the most; the Glennon Doyle Melton’s of the world. The Brene’ Brown’s and Elizabeth Gilbert’s. I see it in anyone not scared to expose their stories and imperfections and turn them into creative beauty that inspires themselves and others. I see it in the humans willing to show up for themselves despite and BECAUSE of their humanity. That type of authentic living is courage to me. That’s strength. But can I do that? Can I just write my truth and put it out there where the world might see it?
If that’s what strength looks like to me….then that’s where I need to start. That’s where I have a chance at really feeling like my best self. I want to BE the kind of person that I deeply respect and admire. I’ve always expressed myself better through writing than any other mode of communication so it makes sense to try writing. And a blog makes sense because I can just tell my story as it happens, as it comes up in daily living, and as I see it – or question it -from my own unique perspective. God knows I’m not brave enough to write my full story (yet) in any kind of book or memoir, but at least I won’t be hiding anymore.
And so…. this blog was born. This is my attempt to stay in touch with all parts of me and to share her with the world. The strong, independent parts of me and the messy parts too. It is my attempt to explore the messiness of the human experience, and everything that’s a part of it, openly and without shame. And this is my attempt to embrace the messes along the way.
But (there’s always a but right? Because self-doubt, self-consciousness and fear are the worst!)…… this is kind of TERRIFYING!!! I’m kind of freaking out. I mean let’s be real, I have NO IDEA what I’m doing here in the world of blogs and even LESS of an idea of how this is going to go. This could all just be a gigantic silly mistake that could result in total embarrassment. What if my friends see this? Or my family? Or strangers? Or absolutely no one? Elizabeth Gilbert’s words from Big Magic flash in my head, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” I push the question away because honestly I have no fucking clue if I have that kind of courage or any treasure to “bring forth.”
My mind goes instead to my favorite poem, Desiderata; my source of balance and hope in life for as long as I can remember. In it, Max Ehrmann says:“Beyond a Wholesome Discipline, Be Gentle with Yourself. You have a right to be here.”Ah…so I should be gentle with myself (and probably everything else) while I’m trying this. Ok, yeah…That feels right. Keep the internal judge out of it.
Ehrmann also says: “Despite its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” Ok, so I can be beautiful despite the mess and even if this whole blog thing becomes a sham and a broken dream? Fine. I guess I can give it a shot.
So my promise to myself and to any potential future readers of this blog is this: I will tell my story and my truth. I will be vulnerable. I will remember that I have a right to be here. I will be gentle. And I will learn to embrace the mess, so together we can be beautiful.
To learn more about me and the purpose of this blog, see my About This Blog Page.
Let the journey begin….
~Be Gentle. Be Beautiful. Embrace the mess.