You Doan' Know Me
Topic: Belle de Jour
Taken almost verbatim from comments to Lemonpillows here, and a discussion in Missuh's comments:
The process of saying things on a blog, and thus, actually 'saying' them to almost everybody indiscriminately has rendered me awfully, in fact horribly, open IRL. There's barely nothing left I won't tell people I've just met, these days.
Suprnovr, someone I've known all my life commented in passing the other day that we "never talk about anything real", and I had to differ: pointing out that there aren't any great secrets left for me; anything I'd secretly wanted her to know, I've already said.
There isn't any deep held darkness left in my soul that needs unburdening, and that's largely thanks to the blog.
The blog and coming out, anyway.
It makes you see how silly the idea of 'privacy' is. What's there you can say that everybody else isn't also worried about or secretly fearing?
I did used to be like that - open, generous with my truths - some years ago, but events and situations made me become a lot more circumspect. It feels good to have lost it. It feels more like me to have lost it.
I dunno if it was actually coming out, years ago that did it, that first forced me to be myself in front of people whose judgement I truly feared. I had been teetering on this precipice of never speaking to my family again, out of fear that they'd disapprove (they couldn't have been more supportive), and a comment from Suprnovr forced me forward out of the stasis of hiding behind inscrutability: "if telling someone who you really are is enough to make you never speak to them again, then the issue is not really about who you are, is it? It's about the fact that you have no relationship at all with them."
I try very hard to show everyone as much of me as possible these days. I have to admit the blog has had an influence on that, and one of the reasons I started it was to gain more openness in my life, after a period where I found myself lying and hiding from *everybody*. It wasn't nice, and I felt more unsupported than I ever had before. After a year of that, of ignoring people who cared about me, for my own spurious reasons, I worry constantly that my friends needed and still need years and years of coaxing to feel that I trust and need them. As Krystal mentioned once, I had made it more than difficult to feel you were getting to know me.
It doesn't help that I was so incredibly nasty and cutting to people back when I was on the run from myself. I read things I wrote two years ago, and I don't even know the person who wrote them. Anyone with so little self awareness as to not even see the unhappiness and dissatisfaction that lay behind the snidey quips and cutting asides must have been either truly stupid, or really definitely on the lam from themselves.
Yeah, that was me then. Who knows if it's any better now?
It wasn't just those two years, though - as a teenager I had prided myself on being 'different' on being someone else to every other figure I had any relationship with. Nobody could pin me down. I thought.
It didn't help that I was always the kid at every school (eight! count 'em!) who was new, who came from somewhere else, who didn't hear so well, who had a funny accent, who everybody thought was queer.
One of my earliest memories is of feeling no-one knew me - kneeling in dirt in a wood, my knees damp, scratched and hurting, my hands smeared, a sharp stick in my right fist, stabbing the left palm angrily, till it cut, trying to make myself remember. Hissing to myself "it is the fifth of April, nineteen seventy seven, my name is Vanessa *******, I am seven years old and for as long as I can remember I have always hated my parents. They don't know me." The tears and the snot and the hissing and the blood and the dirt are all mixed up in my memory with the smell of the woods, the feeling of forgotten seven year old injustice that prompted it - but it worked. I remember.
I look back at the person I was, the adult, the teenager, the child - all the way through it, the person who hid parts of myself, and I wonder: did I know what I was hiding it for?
I mean, if there was a reason, a person, a thing, to gain access to all these hidden parts of myself, then that's ... well, that's a reason, maybe. Although I'd question how fair it is if it's *one* person. (How d'you know they can carry that load? And you want them to carry it forever?)
For me, there wasn't a reason - I just didn't want people to pin me down. But why? What would happen to me if they *did* pin me down? What would curl up and die if people knew who I was inside?
It reminds me of that Onion mock shock headline: "Mom finds son's blog!" - the killer was in the subheading: "Knows Him Better".
Why in heck is that something we're taught to avoid?
Is it some weird hangover of adolescence? Dammit, I wish I could smash a lot of my wrongheaded theories from adolescence - knowing what the worst thing in the world is, babies ruin your life, you already know everything, most other people are really stupid, your family must never know you better, there's a group of insiders who are really cool, nobody understands you, you are intrinsically good, it's not your fault - all of them are lies, and if our society didn't damn well encourage us to act adolescent until our late fifties these days, we'd be embarrassed to defend these points of view as adults by now.
Coming out to my family helped me, because it made me confront some of these issues, in passing. Issues like: How is it bad for my family to know me better? They can still select what they want to know, and reject what they don't. What, they don't live in the world?
If my family are hurt, and reject me, then I'll outgrow it, they'll outgrow it, and we'll mend it. If I hide from people, then what the hell shitty sort of a thin relationship do I really have with them? Don't I trust them or something?
I asked Duch, a friend of 14 year's standing, what she had thought during those two whole years when I wasn't communicating with her (not anything meaningful, anyway). What had she assumed was going on with me when the well of self-revelation and sharing ran dry?
"You just seemed like you were having a really good time."
That line scared the hell out of me - it taught me that my defences are *good*. Too good. If I need help, I have to ask for it. Why? Because I built too good a wall.
People won't question why you won't let them in. They're human, and they'll assume you don't need them.
But you do.
Anyway, I'm starting to rant, but this is a topic that touches on where I live at the moment: if I'm going to be true to myself, not lie to myself, then I owe it to others to be open.
If I'm less than open, there's something there that I fear.
And I need to know that thing, I need to analyse what it is. That's the way things are around here right now.
Hope this makes some damn sense without the key.