I don’t know about you, but that blog post yesterday was quite something. I felt liberated, but only for a short while. Then there came the old doctrines, fears and insecurity. Sharing can be difficult, and doing it openly on the web even more so. I’ve never been a big sharer. In my few but very valuable friendships I used to talk, listen, ask and interact, no matter what topic – except when my inner self was concerned. I listened for hours to the stories of my friends, I thrived with every challenge or difficult situation they presented me with. (Some of you, my dear readers, will certainly snicker a little bit now, sounds familiar, does it not?) It takes time to open up and when I was ready to share a little bit, I used glibly one-liners, smiled the memories and pain away and showed my most controlled faced, the face of a person, who can cope with anything. That’s how I liked to present myself. “Hey – we’ve all been through “stuff”, right? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! Let bygones be bygones.” I would share some details, some stories, and I laughed. Laughed as nothing could touch me anymore. To be quite honest with you, and honesty I promised you, I still struggle with the urge to never lose control, to never show how sensitive I feel about certain topics, to never let anyone know, how hurtful that comment was to me, how much chaos, anger, fear and despair rests underneath the calm, restrained surface. If not for the burnout and my following treatment, I might have never stopped to think, anything could be wrong with always being the strong one, to never let anyone in.
My therapist asked me a very simple question: why not? Why not show the person you are with in that moment, that you are agitated, sad or hurt. And that is a really good question. Is it pride? Fear? Convention? In my case, it is the fear of not being a valuable friend anymore, if I don’t only provide advice, laughter, easy-going chatter – or cupcakes. I used to live in constant fear of what that break between text messages meant, if I made or said something wrong to annoy my friends, if my whole being was low-key enough to be welcomed and to not turn into a nuisance. It was, and still is but I am very hopeful for the future, very hard for me, to just be natural, normal, relaxed or comfortable around anyone. I adapted sitting positions, way of talking and expressing things, the right time for a tea or cookie or the topics of the talk. I simply couldn’t believe, that anyone could still like me, if I showed them all my colours and faces. I couldn’t believe, that just being me, with all my ups and downs, would be enough. I never shared out of these reasons. And then there came therapy. I slowly learned to share, to open up, to talk. First it only worked in therapy. When you do something a lot, when you practise it, sort of, it becomes a part of your habits. And just like that, step by step, I learned to bother the people around me with feelings, emotions and words. A lot of words. And it worked! Where I usually would have listened, my friends listened. They offered a shoulder to cry on, time to reflect on life and another perspective. They encouraged me, were there for me, were friends. Just like that, they endured myself – without the bribe (cookies!), I’d usually bring with me to feel welcome. That all sounds good and positive, you might say, was there any challenge linked to this? Why did you choose that weird title?
I chose that title because, even after knowing all that, even writing down all that, yesterday I felt like staring into an abyss. I shared the link to the blog with the people, that have been my rock, ever since I was lucky enough to meet them. People that matter to me. (And my therapist – would be a shame if he got bored in these weeks without sessions.) I can tell you, that was a challenge in itself! I hardly managed to hit the send button and I kind of apologized in some messages for even daring to bother with this triviality. What if I was too open and honest? What if no one cares? What if people are annoyed by me sending out a link to my blog? What if people feel bored, offended or indifferent? Was this really a good idea? These questions raced through my mind and stopped me from sleeping. I tried welcoming these thoughts. I told them “Hey, old pals, nice of you to stop by! Good, that you remind me of your existence. But please, go away now, let me sleep!”. I did sleep eventually. During the night, I received some really touching messages about yesterday’s post. Phew! Huge rock off the chest. But not everyone replied. Mind you, I sent this to 7 people, the equivalent of some people’s labradoodle pack and not to a small, random army.
And there we have one of today’s challenges. I stared at my mobile, checking if I really did send out the link, if my messages got delivered. I looked for plausible explanations. And then my old pals visited me again. “You offended someone! You should have written in german. Why didn’t you keep that blog a secret, like a personal diary?” I stopped right there, thinking: ok, even I know, that sounds crazy now. And so I gathered all my strength to not send an irrelevant message to the missing replies to see if they were mad at me or just didn’t care or didn’t see the message. Hell, with this new technology, my message could have vanished into a black hole! What can I say, I succeeded. Mostly. I still feel a little unsure about going “public” and sharing and I still don’t know, what some of you think about the blog. But I trust, that you will read this blog, if it’s of interest to you. And I believe I can expect of you that, if you choose to not be part of this particular experience of mine, you will still appreciate me, even if you think the blog is stupid and if my last delivery of cupcakes was ages ago.