This week, someone asked me about how it felt to put all of my "stuff" out here on the internet. I've written about my drinking, my insecurities, my trauma, and other really personal and embarrassing things, and we all know by now that the internet doesn't forget. It's out there now, permanently, and I can't take it back. They asked, if I was worried about consequences.
The thing is, I never thought of any of that when I started writing here. I didn't think about much of anything, other than that I'd been lying and hiding who I was for so damn long, that I just needed to scream the truth out there. Words are simply my weapon of choice, and it doesn't matter if anyone hears them. It doesn't matter if anyone judges me. In a funny way, it's almost like I'm giving people a primer on me. Saying, "For the love of god, please read this so that maybe, one day, you will understand."
And yes, I was worry about consequences. The consequences of a life unlived, of truth unspoken. The way that you can slowly die but stay alive all at once. The consequence of day after day of surface conversations and of never really being known. Of never really knowing anyone. I worry about regret, of not doing the thing that I know I was meant to do, and I decided that that was a hell of a lot scarier than the possibility of embarrassing myself on the Internet.
Maybe I put this out there so that I could finally cut myself off from the things I know are not meant for me. So that I can't take a job that asks me to hide my truth ever again. So that I can't put forth a shiny façade and expect people to buy it. So that I won't try to fool the people I love. Maybe, I am limiting myself, so that I can be limitless.
And being honest, it can hurt. When I was twenty, I told a boyfriend about my assault. He was the first person I had ever told, and it felt like standing in front of a speeding train, with a foot stuck in the tracks. All you can do is hope to god that the conductor can figure out how to stop in time. See, I had to tell him, I couldn't carry it alone anymore. I will remember him turning away from me for as long as I live, though I don't hold it against him. Not anymore. I don't think our relationship ever recovered from that telling. I found myself mothering his reaction and his feelings about something that happened to me. And I know we were kids, and that neither of us knew how to handle any of it. But, that doesn't mean it didn't hurt. That it didn't kick down every bit of hard-won self worth I had managed to scrape together in the eight years since it happened.
But telling the truth there, also taught me something, even if it was something I wasn't willing to hear yet. It taught me that he was not my person. That anyone unwilling to see the broken parts behind the story they make up about me, cannot love me. It taught me how much more I deserve. That someone that cannot stand in the harsh light of honesty, does not deserve to stand in my life at all. Over time, this hurt took more than it gave.
You see, I am showing my scars so that I can stop pretending they don't exist. So that no one will think I have it together, when really my day-to-day life is a collage of duct tape, coffee, Google, and anxiety. So that people know that they don't need to small talk with me. I have always been uncomfortable with small talk, but it's such a habit to fall into, and it's hard, in the moment, to escape. I never know what to say if I don't have time to write it down first, but it seems insane to me that we're supposed to say we're fine and talk about the weather, until we can be alone again. Then we wonder why no one truly sees us. We wear masks because we are so damn worried that we are the only one. But those masks hide all of the common ground. And in the moment, it's so incredibly hard to look someone in the eye and bare who you are. So I'm trying to do a little low-stakes-Brave here. And with every post and every thing I share and every resulting vulnerability hangover, my little Brave grows just a tiny bit. And now it's almost big enough for me to stand in. Almost.
Maybe I am writing here to dare people to speak their truth right back. To see if we can meet in the middle, somewhere in the love that shared pain brings. Because I don't believe that any of us are meant to be alone, or unseen. I don't believe that any of us are "too much" or that any of us have a mess that is too big. I think we are our most beautiful when we are our most human, right dab in the center of not knowing what the hell we're doing.
I love you. Do a little brave today.