I forgot. No, I didn’t forget. I pushed away and put down and hid all the things that were unique about me.
I look back at my childhood and I can see the wonder that was built into me from the beginning. My love of story. Poetry. Theater. Music. How I love and learned song lyrics. How I connect with movies. How I work out my every thought in writing.
But somewhere along the way, I started to believe the voices that told me I can’t. I shouldn’t. I couldn’t. No one else took these traits seriously so how could I?
Or, did they take it seriously and I was the one who didn’t?
I have memories of a million people telling me I was talented. No one can remember song lyrics or movie quotes like me. No one can write poems like me. People told me I should be a writer and yet, I didn’t. I poo-pooed their praise. I shuffled off their dreams for me and I ignored their faith in me.
I somehow became the most talented second-guesser I know. But why? I was born with dreams and wonder. I saw beauty in everything and I traded it all for an ugly reality that every single day threatens to destroy me. But I hang on. Tight.
Maybe it’s like the mean girls I know. If I am close enough to them, they won’t hurt me. So I pretend to like them, to be their friend. I watch as they decimate the world around them but I tuck myself close because the closer I am to them, the more out of firing range I am. The trouble is, there is no beauty here. Only tension, uncomfort and a feeling of being confined. I am not true to myself at all. I am conforming to the mean girl to protect myself from being a victim of the mean girl. I have grown cynical and ‘cool.’
My whole life I was told that I was too sensitive. That no one wanted to be around an unhappy person. That I felt too much. I worked my whole life to bury those parts of me that feel too much. To brush stuff off. To stop the tears before they can pool in the corners of my eyes. Never let them see you sweat was an old deodorant commercial but my take on it was never let them see you cry.
I DO FEEL EVERYTHING. Like some sort of measuring stick for emotion, I can read it on other peoples faces like I’m reading a good book. I can take the emotional temperature of a room and I can tell you without ever being wrong if something has thought something negative about me. I am some kind of emotion reactor. Every emotion I feel creates a reaction in me and I have tried to control the reactions as best as I can. But the truth is I suck at it. Wait, the real truth is that I’ve gotten very good at it.
I deflect it now. I have learned to shut down parts of me that used to feel. I brush it off like lint and refuse to think about it. I am aided by pharmaceuticals that numb the emotion. That helps.
But, every now and then I can still get hurt. Despite my armor, my disdain for drama and my attempts to control my reactions, occasionally, someone can pierce me deep enough to leave a gaping wound that no one can see. And I am bleeding out all the while trying to grab every drop of blood and shove it back into my body before anyone notices that I am weak and wounded.
I hate weakness. I hate emotion. Why was I created to be weak and easily hurt and to feel like a square peg in a round hole? Why would God create me to be sensitive and hyper-feeling when He must know those are not the right skills for living in this life? Maybe a better question is…why have I let this life define me more than I let God?
How did it happen that I have spent the bulk of my life conforming to the world instead of figuring out how the world can conform to me? I have lost the beauty and wonder and awe. The only emotions left are the pain and hurt and fear. And while those have a certain beauty of their own, I am missing the laughter, the sun and the joy.
I have no idea what I was created for. I don’t know what God’s plans for me are. I have no idea what I am called to do. It may be everything. It may be absolutely nothing. I just want to be good at it. I am so tired of living in turmoil. I am so tired of living defeated before I ever leave the house. I have nothing left to lose because I have already lost the best parts of me. I don’t know how to get them back.
Except to write. To write my truthiest truths. To dig as deep as I possibly can into my inner self and pull out the things I have worked so hard to bury. Like digging through a dusty attic, I am not sure what I’ll find. I’m sure I’ll sneeze from the dust and my eyes will water from the dank. But if I am lucky, and if I am in there long enough, maybe I will find the unmarked box of emotion. Maybe I’ll open it to discover wonder, passion, joy and magic.
It’s risky. Like Pandora’s box, opening this one will expose me. I’ll be vulnerable and weak. But I’ll be me. Because the ultimate truth right now is that I am vulnerable and weak trying to be like everyone else and denying who I am created to be. I am pushing away beauty to keep from being hurt but I die inside anyway. Slowly. I can’t escape hurt but somehow I can escape joy and I’m tired of it.
So I’ll write. I’ll spill my guts and work out my thoughts on virtual paper. I may even post them for the world to see because I wonder, I can’t help but wonder…is there anyone else out there who has buried her emotions, too? Is there someone else who tragically ended her creative life in order to fit in? Can we come together and not be afraid to let the tears of all we’ve lost pool in the corners of our eyes and possibly even slip down our cheeks? Can we laugh at our idiocy and cheer each other on as we rediscover the beauty of how we were made?
I desperately want to be me unapologetically. But I will apologize again tomorrow, I’m sure. I’m sure I’ll take steps backward but I am sure I will take a few forward as well. I will trip and stumble and put my foot in my mouth and defend something that’s wrong and laugh at something I shouldn’t. I’m a mess. But it’s time for me to believe that this mess is my mess and that it’s good. That it’s valuable. That it’s worthy and important and wonderful. Even if it hurts.