About a year ago, I spontaneously decided to go through my blog and find posts inspired by people in my real life and send them to them as a package. It was a strange exercise for me. People in my community of friends know me to play many roles. I am a mother, a neighbor, an activist, a researcher, a mentor, a boss, a student. I am that nice person up the street who hugs and kisses a lot. But very few people think of me as a writer.
And that is a little bit on purpose.
I don’t drive many of my friends and co-workers here because I am a bit shy about the truths that get told here.
Writing here is such a tender process and sharing that writing with the people I love exposes me and often leaves me feeling vulnerable. Its scary enough to share my creativity. But this blog has become a place where I often lay my beating heart out on the table and speak truths that sometimes surprise even me.
So sending those packaged up bundles to those i love was terrifying. I was asking to be seen, warts and all and I had no idea what the response would be. I decided to send them anyway, with no attachment to the response. I decided to risk being loved as I am. Or at very least to be seen.
I know for a fact that I have loved ones who don’t get my writing. Perhaps they are embarrassed or shocked by my willingness to open my heart so shamelessly to strangers. Perhaps they think it is “attention getting” behavior and not art to tell stories like mine. I once had a debate with a woman I respect very much (and who didn’t know I write) about the memoir genre. She hates them. She thinks that memoirs are fiction wrapped up and pretending to be truth and they they are inevitably preachy and self-absorbed and to quote her “artless”. She said the minute we claim to tell the truth we are lying and that if an author really wanted to say something they could be creative enough to tell a story to illustrate the point. I sighed, holding her truth in the light and wondered what I could learn from it. Its true, sometimes fiction can tell truth so much more powerfully but I also wondered about the possibility that maybe to her memoir can be scary. When I speak my truth, not as fiction that could be true but as truth it can be really scary. Especially when it isn’t your truth. It calls us all out as liars.
When I write these truths I immediately run a risk that a rift will open up, a chasm, a valley. I run the risk of being called out as a liar, of my truth being sacrificed on your altar, or smashed to bits when held up to the light of what you might know about me. I run the risk of breaking carefully crafted expectations you may have developed about me or worse yet, run the risk of the snickering comments, “Well, that’s not really how she is”. The reality is that when we write about our lives there is no way to do it without exposure and without blowing up that myth we call truth.
I am a both a holy wise woman and a broken down mess. I am extraordinary and unique and exactly the same as everyone else. I have moments of kindness and moments of pettiness, moments when I am magnanimous and moments where my patience is raw and limited. There are moments when I am profound and moments where I am cliche and obvious and so full of shit. I know that whenever I tell you a story I am only telling you a part of it. That every attempt to convey a truth immediately makes a liar out of me. One face. One truth. There is no way to know the whole truth. Ever. And yet…at that moment, in that space, in the perfectness of a now, no one ever really lies but only whispers what they know to be true in that millisecond, even if that truth shifts the moment it is uttered.
Over this last year, some of the people I love most have disappointed me and it has set my world upside down. Perhaps they were unkind or thoughtless. They may have hurt me greatly, acted in a way I found disrespectful or simply annoyed me. They may have behaved jealously or they may have judged me or someone I love. Maybe I thought they took advantage or took all all the air. Maybe I thought they took without giving. Maybe they gave for the wrong reasons. Maybe I thought they were a hypocrite or made a liar out of me.
At the end of the day though, my disappointment was about me.
I was annoyed because they failed to meet whatever unfair expectations I had created when I declared why I loved them and then quietly in my heart of hearts demanded (unfairly) that they always be that way. I was angry because their truth at that moment did not match up with the truth I had told myself about them. I was convinced that they were perfect in the ways I wanted them to be. I was caught up in a lie. Caught up in the calling them a liar, caught up in not seeing the whole, caught up in not being willing to meet them as they are exactly as they are.
The moment I realized this, something hard inside me began to dissolve. That work is still happening but I feel so much softer around the edges. I am able to hold the reality that the people I love are divine and terrible. We all are. As we stumble through our lives they will be lovely and screw up exponentially and I am simply called to love. And the aim of this practice is to know unconditional love. To see and be seen.
I am making it my practice, to open up and love the fucked up parts of the people I love along with the delicious parts.
Immediately as I wrote this last sentence, I tried to qualify it, for fear that someone in my real life could claim it isn’t the truth. They could point to the thousands of times I have failed at this. They could think I am being smug. They could think a lot of things. It takes too much time and energy for me to worry about that anymore so the qualifications are going out the window. I am flawed and todays truths may be tomorrows fictions but for now this is my truth. The Truth according to Me. The truth that the minute is spoken dissolves.
A few days ago, when I sat down to write, I had an entirely different post in mind. But this is what came up and so I honored it. Truth is, it has been bubbling up and wanting to be written for months now but finally came to the surface, probably inspired by these truth tellers whose posts made me think so much this past week.