'It's no small feat, finishing a journey,' I tell her. 'But no one ever mentions that once you get there, you will have to turn around and head all the way home.'
Firstly, I wanted to apologise for being away for so long, I don't know if anyone reads this except me but I'll say it anyway. This blog is one of my main forms of self-expression and an excellent way to track life's ups and downs. I enjoy looking back over the past year(s) and the memories (both good and bad) it documents.
Today I wanted to sit down and write about something which has been bothering me persistently for weeks. Mostly this issue has been brought up by my upcoming birthday celebrations. My party is tomorrow and it's been a long week of preparation, organisation and juggling various commitments. My anxiety has centered around that realisation that I have been both passively and actively lying to many of my friends over this past year.
I've mentioned "splitting" before; I define it as the act of selectively revealing aspects of myself to different audiences. The division between lying and "selectively revealing" can be a tenuous one. Recently I wrote a list of the conflicting aspects of information that people know about me, these include;
-The fact that I'm going to church regularly...within that, the fact that I don't necessarily follow the Christian teachings regarding Christ, scripture, etc. and my belief in God fluctuates moment to moment. Somewhat harder to explain is why I enjoy going to church when it often teaches ideals of exclusion and repression (especially the sex negative attitude to pleasure, partners and families), and to further this, why it's easier to play my part as an unquestioning believer
-My vegan lifestyle...most of my "peers" know this about me, however it becomes difficult when I'm in social situations where people cook beautiful non-vegan food or in situations where I don't want to be bound by diet. Veganism sometimes follows too closely to disordered eating ideals about "restriction" and the idea of "I can't eat that" rather than "I won't eat that". Any absolute seem to cause issues and I try to avoid the vegan label altogether
-My experiences with trauma and mental illness...a mixed variety of people know about my official mental illness diagnoses, most people know about my difficult history with my parents but very few know about the violence and intimidation shown by my dad (he's seems so soft-spoken and gentle in person). An even smaller percentage of my friends know about my hospitalisation and experiences with sexual assault. It's so much easier to delete these experiences from my story and "tidy up" the narrative to fit within a socially acceptable "tough time" and the glamourised image of being "fucked up"
-Identifying as bi/gay...this "selective truth" feels especially hard to justify. It hits so close to home when I have to conceal it from others, especially because of religion, age, but mostly just from fear or shame. It hurts when people reply with, "don't worry, I already knew," or "I was just waiting for you to tell me". Like, which part of my appearance, personality or mere existence gave you that idea? It's my personal identification, not your stereotypical judgement call. I just want one single factor in my life to fit within a normal spectrum of experience...especially something so intimate as who (and what gender) I choose to love
And this is where it gets tricky, there are even smaller things which I have omitted and can't quite explain why. Like the fact that Bubbles thinks I'm turning 22 this year. The fact that Miss Clare still thinks I'm studying OT. The fact that most (if not all) of my friends think I babysit Savi & Belle every week when in reality, I just go over to their house and hang out with Friday, go to the park, eat food and cuddle with my precious munchkins.
Everyday things like why I take medication in the morning (some know it as my pain medication, others as anti-depressants), why I get tired so often (depression, chronic fatigue, overwhelm, sleep disorder, anxiety...all have some basis in truth), the fact that I see a psychiatrist regularly (very few people ask me how that's going anymore), what I'm planning to do in the future, etc.
I've been reading a fantastic book by Brené Brown called 'Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Changes the Way We, Love, Parent and Lead'. It speaks about living your truth and being honest about our imperfections. She speaks about how our imperfections actually drive connection with others, and as long as we learn to control feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment, we can harness these aspects in a positive way. Vulnerability can be our greatest asset.
I wonder whether the need to manipulate the impression others have of me (as in the truths they are given about my life) comes from the experience of losing someone very close to me (my best friend Zhi Hui)? She couldn't handle the painful truths of my life. This rejection of my authentic self hurt in a way beyond anything I can describe. I don't think I've let myself become emotionally vulnerable since. Everyone I met and know gets a watered down version of the truth (and my true self).
Another cause could be seen as positive. I was always warned by mental health professionals about "giving all of myself away". I often felt like my story carried so much weight for me and so little with them. I felt empty and exhausted after sharing my story; not unburdened or uplifted. Maybe I've gotten better at boundaries? Innately sensing when to censor aspects of my truth that wouldn't fit into the type of relationship I need to build with others? I can also think of a few exceptions to the above. I try and have honest relationships with Laurel Matilda, my Danish MI twin and Magnus but still experience that all-too familiar feeling of being "too much".
All I know is that a tight vice of anxiety grips me when I imagine all of my most loved friends and family in one room. What will Friday say to my Mum about our afternoons together? What will Alps say to Magnus? What about SSB and the Drehan's? How will Lis introduce herself? And finally, the narrative that keeps circling around in my mind...where the fuck is Zhi Hui and my high school friends? Why aren't they here? Why do I have so few friends left that were with me during periods of suicidal ideation? Who can stand alongside me and acknowledge the monumental significance of turning 21?
You can't blame someone if they honestly don't understand that their reality isn't the same as yours.