I was corresponding with a high school classmate on Facebook and she asked me about running, and I was very nearly about to link her to this blog, and then I decided I just couldn’t. I don’t mind if people I know in real life read my blog and I’ve come across this from both sides. People I already know read it, and people who were strangers become friends. I looked back at what I have written in the last few weeks, and it just seemed so depressing and miserable that I couldn’t bear to show her. I’m not sure when I became so negative and miserable.
I was at the hairdressers last night and she introduced me to another client as “another woman whose baby died”. Now, the introduction was done in a spirit of compassion and a sense of “Oh, look this is rare, and there are 2 of you who had this experience“, and I suppose that this is true, but I was really offended. I don’t want to be known as the woman whose baby died. I want to be me.
My blog readership is down. Really down from last year. I’m getting about the same number of comments, but fewer people are reading, and I’m not sure why. I keep telling myself that really, I write for me, I write because I need to, because it’s a part of who I am, but that’s not entirely true. If I just wanted to write, I could open a word file and start typing. I write because I need to, because I want to, and also because I am a story teller, and blogging lets me tell stories. So my blog readership is declining, and I’m not sure if it’s because I started a different style of summary in blog aggregators (In which Mrs. Spit . . .) or if I have become boring or depressing or what have you.
I was contemplating my SIL and my cousin, and why they make me so angry. It’s really irrational. I interact with them perhaps 3 times a year, and each time they set my teeth on edge, and after about 3 minutes I feel like every last one of my nerves is on fire. I used to think it was just because they were so darn nice, all the time, but I know women who are nice. I think my problem is that they aren’t real. They are so busy only being nice, they are never real. They speak in Christianese, and they don’t ever seem to inhabit the same space that I do. At the end of a conversation with them I feel this irresistible urge to kick a kitten – do something – not evil – just plain mean.
I am working, very hard, on having no personality at work – at being a person who comes in, gets her work done, doesn’t talk much and leaves. Obviously not with everyone, but with everyone I don’t know well. I don’t have any particular idea why I am doing this, other than to tell you that I need to do this. I need to be less public, less visible, less transparent. Equally so, I am not always good at judging my humour. I have an obscure sense of humour and most people don’t get it, and so they think I am being flip, and I am, but they don’t understand the flipness.
In a very perfect world I would have been able to set up those 5 paragraphs in a circle around the rest of this post, with circles and arrows pointing at things. I have been trying to write a post for each vignette, and none of the words are coming to me. I like my blog posts to be a bit like an essay, with an introduction that catches your eye, a middle that argues the point and an end that wraps everything up. I don’t have enough words about any of the above paragraphs. I am not thoughtless, but I am certainly conclusion-less.
I have a rich thought life. I am always turning things, situations, events, philosophies, random spots of beauty, over in my mind. It’s not new that I would be thinking of those things above, even if I don’t have words. Perhaps what is new in the last few years is the notion that I should seek to think about how I felt about those things. That I should seek to understand why these things are upsetting me, that I should seek to identify feelings around each of those paragraphs – I should move those facts from my head to my heart. It’s easy to assign feelings, upon proper reflection, I can attach sad, happy, joyful, wistful, amused, frustrated to those vignettes. From feelings though, what I am trying to get at is meaning. I want to know why I am thinking about those things, why those 5 ideas are so often with me these days. I want to ascribe some meaning, and then I want to finish with those thoughts. I want to wrap them up in nice packages, with feelings and thoughts and meanings and be done with them. Stick them on a shelf and move on to the next things.
The reason that I have grouped those 5 little vignettes together is because I think there is a commonality beyond my present feeling of discomfort. I am looking at outward appearances, I am looking at balancing who I need to be and who I want to be, and how the situations, the people and the events around me balance how I appear. For a very long time I was utterly unaware of how I appeared to others. If you asked me I would have told you that I didn’t care, but in hindsight that was never the correct summation. Correctly I didn’t even think of other people and their perceptions – it was an area of the world that was not part of my life. I’m still a bit weak in this area, although I’m getting better. I couldn’t and I can’t develop a set of rules to predict how people would react in a given situation, so I didn’t think of them. Since they were going to be unpredictable, I wasn’t going to worry about it.
I am finding, more and more, I care, and I care deeply about how I am perceived. It matters to me that people like reading what I write and in equal measure it matters to me that I write about things I care about. It matters that I write well. It also matters that some things are private. It especially matters to me that I listen more to people. That I am less cynical, that I am more open and less brittle. It matters that there is less of me, so that there can be more space for those around me. The people I love, the people I care for, and the hurting and the broken. It matters that I don’t work so hard at being the smartest person in the room, that I spend less time proving myself, and more time not caring. I’m not stupid, and I doubt that people are going to think that I am if I remain silent. I’ve tried making sure I take advantage of opportunities to show off my smarts, and now I’d like to leave that bit up to Providence, at least for a bit.
But I have 31 years of being the shining star in the room, the centre of attention, the vibrant, flamboyant one, and this change in priorities, this change in ethos is a hard habit to break. I am struggling about how to be genuine, I don’t want to be one of those people who is so focused on niceness they miss the ugliness in the world. I am trying to balance being resilient, not optimistic, how to reconcile knowing the very, very bad can and does happen, with knowing the good can and does happen. I’m trying to reconcile the crushing sadness of being still childless with a need to live and enjoy the life I have. I am working very hard to be silent, to allow others to speak, to leave a bit of mystery about myself. I am working on moving past being only Gabriel’s mum. The problem is that everything I do, almost every interaction I have seems like work, as I try and change my habits, my inclinations, my traditional behaviours. I seem to still screw up more than I ever succeed. I wind up feeling really rather helpless and hopeless.
So, here I am, a grown woman, thinking about thoughts, emotions, feelings and meaning, a place that I have been oh so many times, and I don’t have good answers. I don’t have meaning. I don’t have wants or needs, really. I have, at best yearnings, a vague notion of what I want – of who I am moving toward being. I don’t have a plan, or even a particular destination.
And I don’t have any sort of summary to this post. Not even that thing I so often do, to say “except perhaps this”. There is no except, no perhaps. I’m still thinking, still turning stuff over in my mind. I am interested, have you ever found yourself in this position? Do you have any thoughts for me?