“You’ve stopped talking”, my friend said. Huh? We are talking right now, I thought. “Why have you stopped talking?” she pressed. “You haven’t written much in the last little while.” “I’ve been so sick i could barely think or breathe for weeks. Also, I haven’t felt like I had anything much to say, I guess. I think of things to say but then I’m too scared to say them.” I replied. “Bull. That is not you. I would buy you not having ideas about what to say, but being scared? No. I’m not buying it.”
Her words struck me in the gut like a punch. I have been having a really hard time writing lately, as you guys can probably tell, but why? A couple of months ago I was all fired up, posting several times a week and then I posted a picture of myself in a change room, in a bikini. People connected to that. It was shared more times than I imagined possible, it was published in the Huffington Post, it made the rounds. People I knew commented and commended me for stepping outside of my comfort zone. People I didn’t know cheered me on and told me how much it meant to them that I chose to share that piece of myself, to strip myself down and expose the raw, tender bits of my heart and soul. I got messages from women who told me that they went out and bought a bikini for the first time in years, or ever, and sent me pictures. More times than I can count I had tears in my eyes reading these words and seeing the smiling, determined faces and knowing that however small, I had a part in sparking that fire to life.
And you know what? It terrified me. I wondered how I would ever be able to top that post and it scared me that I probably never could. I let all of those old self doubts creep back into my mind, let the comments about me being fat, and unhealthy, and an attention seeker sit heavy in my heart. Was it true? Even though I knew that the post came from a place of self acceptance that had taken me decades to get to, even though I knew the impact it had made on other people, even though it was something that I had carried around with me for a really long time, I questioned.
I heard those words “fat”, “ugly”, “nasty”, “disgusting”, “gross”, “unhealthy”, “awful” and all of a sudden, I began to question myself. I felt like a fraud. If that was what people really saw when they looked at me, who was I to think that I could make a difference with my truth? Who was I to tell people to mind their own damn business or do as they pleased? Who was I to say anything?
It was a gradual shift, every time I sat down to try to get some ideas out, nothing much would come. I’d have a great idea about something but not be able to flesh it out. Little by little, I just stopped talking. I felt not good enough, and wondered why I would even put myself out there only to be slammed for my efforts. I watched people trying to pick others apart online for differing viewpoints and the nastiness that certain topics seem to bring out of people. I noticed that people had unlinked my Facebook page, or indicated that they didn’t want to see my posts, including the bikini one. I started to do exactly what I had told other people not to do. I started to care about what other people thought.
“That’s not you.” my friend said. “You did something that most women woukd never dream of considering. Do you write for yourself or for other people? Who cares what they think? You didn’t then, why now? That’s not you. You have stuff to say, stuff that touches people’s hearts. It’s not going to happen unless you let yourself though.”
She was right, of course. I have been replaying that conversation over in my head for a few days and of course she is. I let self doubt chip away at me, let pressures and expectations and desires get in the way of the thing I do best and that is sharing my heart. It might not always be serious, or heartfelt and emotional, but my words always come from the heart and a real desire to be honest and true. When I wasn’t allowing myself to do that, the words weren’t there. When I started caring too much about what other people thought, I slipped back into old habits and patterns and let all those years of negative self talk and doubt to take hold again. I wondered what my purpose was for being here, why people chose to grace my little corner of the Internet, and how I could keep them happy. I was questioning all the wrong things. Why was I comparing myself to other bloggers? I’m not them, but they are not me either. I had forgotten that. There is room enough for all of us to share our words and lift our voices to those who want or need to hear them. I don’t know what keeps bringing you back to me, but I’m pretty sure there is something, and it’s my honour to be able to give that to you. Not a fake version that I put on to try and impress someone, just the real, rough around the edges, honest, laugh at my own jokes and probably over share a bit self.
I am not those labels that others choose to put on me and neither are any of us. My favourite people are the ones who are real. They share the fun stuff, the funny stuff, the tough stuff, the stuff that makes me think and cry and feel. They are not defined by arbitrary words that I, or anyone else, places on them. They are just words and it has taken me some time to come to that realization again. We are not those things that others see as flaws or weaknesses, not unless we let ourselves be. And I choose not to be. I want to be me. Most of the time I like me, and so do my family and friends. That is good enough.
So thank you for sticking with me even though I stopped talking for a while. Thank you to my virtual butt kickers. I am talking again, and I hope that this means that we can talk together again too. If there is anything that you hope to read about, anything you want me to chime in, please tell me. Leave me a comment here, or on the One Crazy Kid Facebook page or anywhere else in the digital space you can find me. I started this place to share the good, the bad and the real of life and parenthood and that is exactly what I want to do. I hope you will stay for the ride.
I’m done not talking yet.