So this is going around a lot of blogs lately (you can read up on the history at the bottom of the post) and I thought I would participate. I love the idea of confessions and being authentic. I've been thinking about how to approach this post and I hope I will do the honest part of it justice while still holding some stories close to my heart.
The truth is, the stuff I am truly afraid to tell you, I can't write online. Most of the things I am reluctant to talk about are from a long time ago and sometimes I feel like I have lived multiple lives. That person I was then is not the person I am today, but she is still a part of me. She is still a part of my story.
Brené Brown said at Mom 2.0 that we should own the stories that we have orphaned because they don't fit in with who we think we should be. I have many orphaned stories, in fact, I really have a whole orphaned self. I found this quote by Brené from a 2011 BlogHer panel she did with Gretchen Rubin called CHANGE YOURSELF: Your Perfect Imperfections: Blogging Your Way to Self-Acceptance.
"Owning and sharing our story is a part of how we get to our worthiness. Because if you are like me, I think most of us have orphaned parts of ourselves and parts of our stories that we don't believe fit with who we think we are supposed to be. So I think that's part of, for me, part of owning our story." - Brené Brown
And this quote from Neil Gaiman's U of Arts Commencement Speech is perfect as well.
"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right." - Neil Gaiman
Ok, so here we go, the truth, the things I am afraid to tell you (holy crap I am literally vibrating as I write this, is it cold in here?):
THAT WAS THEN
- I was a bully when I was a young child. I was mean to other kids. I'm not sure why. It didn't last and I remember mostly feeling curious about what would happen. I think I liked to feel in control. It's messed up. I am scared of what you will think of me. I'm not a bully anymore.
- A female babysitter was inappropriate with me when I was about eight. I forgot about it and only remembered many years later when a friend was telling me about it happening to her.
- I stole Halloween candy from a little boy when I was 13 with two of my friends. From the moment after it happened, to this day, I wish I could give it back. I tell you this specific bullying story because I have already confessed it to a room full of 400 advertising people. I was a new employee at an ad agency and they called all of us newbies up on stage as surprise to tell the crowd about the meanest thing we had ever done. I didn't have enough time to make something up, so I told the truth. One person came up to me after and said he had his candy stolen as a kid and I'm pretty sure he wanted to punch me. I apologized to him but how can you forgive someone for that? I don't think I have forgiven myself. If I knew where he was today I would send him Halloween candy and say I was sorry. I know it wouldn't help but I would try.
- I had what one would politely call a troubled youth. Ages 14 - 22 were crazy times, what I sometimes call my "lost years". Ug, right? You might think I am being dramatic, but my life could have taken a serious turn for the worse a number of times. I somehow always managed to get myself out of it. In this place dwells A LOT of things I am afraid to tell you.
- I left home right after I turned 16 and moved to Vancouver with my 21 year old boyfriend. It was a disaster, but I did take a photography class at my new high school that opened a door for me that might have remained shut. I learned a lot about myself, especially that I was brave and strong. That's the part I like to tell, the parts that I am afraid to say are harder. I tried to push my boyfriend down the stairs after he cheated on me, among other things.
- While I was in Vancouver I got arrested for shoplifting. I had been stealing things for years. The police officers almost put me on a Greyhound bus and sent me back home. Sometimes I wish they had, although I think it probably smartened me up to have to stay and deal with it for myself. I got assigned community service. I stopped stealing after that and within a few months I returned home on my own.
- I applied to art school on a whim, because my friend was applying. I got in and he didn't. I felt bad about that, but I went anyway.
- I have 3 tattoos, the first one I got the moment I turned 18, the other two later in NYC. I like tattoos and I'd like to get more. I'm not afraid to tell you this one really, but it's something people are surprised to learn about me when they meet me in person after reading my blog.
- College was insane. So insane that I considered checking myself into a hospital at one point because the kind of crazy things I was thinking couldn't possibly be normal or healthy. I went to a lot of parties and I was a regular, with VIP cards, in the bar scene. There are lots of things I have forgotten that I wish I remembered (I also wish I had worked harder in school) and lots of things I remember that I wish I had forgotten (my friend died of a drug overdose and I didn't go to his funeral.) In this place dwells THE REST of the things I am afraid to tell you.
- I left Canada when I was 23 and moved to the United States. I started my life again and since then I have tried to be kind, smart and to work hard. It's awesome to have a clean slate. I'm not sure I could have done it as easily if I had stayed where I was. I don't think I will ever move back, even though I miss many things that are there. (Sorry Mom.)
THIS IS NOW
- Sometimes I have panic attacks. I am probably having one right now as you read this.
- I don't exercise and I know that I should. My knees hurt.
- I often imagine my fiery death while I am driving a vehicle on a two lane highway and the cars are headed straight for me. Never when someone else is driving.
- I need alone time. A lot.
- I fully immersed myself in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and many other natural parenting practices and principles for five solid years. It took over my life. At the time I totally wanted it to, but now I am happy that my kids are growing up and I have more time to do things for myself. I guess the part of this that I am afraid to admit is that I couldn't do the SAHM thing forever. I got bored, frustrated, impatient and sometimes angry. I was fully invested when they were babies, when they needed me the most but now that they are older and in school, I am taking some much needed time back for myself.
- I smoked regularly until I had kids. I still do sometimes when I am having a drink. I love it and I hate it at the same time.
- I have a housekeeper and my husband does the dishes every night. I feel like I fail as a housewife most of the time. (Sorry Chris.) I do cook though, when I feel the urge, and sometimes I even cook well. I stay on top of school schedules and stay pretty organized. But the cleaning. THE CLEANING.
- I want it all. I wish I was rich. I sometimes wish I was part of a royal family and I could inherit a castle. I spend money more freely than I should, certainly more freely than I was taught, but I did pay off my student loans. I know there is more money out there to be made. I want to make money so that I can build a brand new modern house in the country with a view and also have an amazing apartment in the West Village of NYC. I want both. I also want to travel frequently, in first class, and send my kids to private school. I am sometimes jealous of the people who are rich and can have all the things I want.
- I am constantly concerned with being cool. I always wonder if I am cool enough. I think generally that I am not cool at all. I tend to feel way more comfortable with the geeks. They are nicer.
- If someone doesn't reply to my email I think they must hate me and I go over and over in my head what I might have said or done that offended them.
- I don't watch the news. There is too much negative, hateful energy there. If I get the paper I read only the art and style section.
- I don't engage in political discussions because I find them most often filled with tension, conflict and mud-slinging. Living in the US without citizenship I can't vote anyway, though I do try to influence my husband. For the record, I am a liberal with feminist leanings. (Sorry Dad.)
- I don't believe in the traditional view of God being an omnipresent giant bearded man in the sky looking down upon us and granting us our prayers. However, I believe myself to be a spiritual person and if I had to pick any religion it would probably be Buddhism. I love the idea in Buddhism that Buddha is in everything. In you, in me, in the trees. I believe we are all connected. I believe in The Force. I believe in Mother Nature. I believe in being good, in taking care of others, in not judging and in accepting. I believe beauty is everywhere if we just look for it. I would rather focus on the good and see beauty everywhere than focus on the bad and see ugliness everywhere. Still though, I don't go to church. I don't really like religion. I won't go so far as to say I am an atheist, but you know, I might be. Or maybe I am an agnostic. I don't really know. What I DO know is I used to feel very impaired when talking about religion, because I was never taught a religion. As an adult I have tried to learn about them all, as a curious person who wants to know things, rather than as someone who wants to become religious. Especially since having kids, I have felt a responsibility to teach them about all of it, rather than never mention it at all.
- I hope that my children do not make any of the same mistakes that I did. I hope they never ask me questions about my teenager years. I don't know how I will be able to talk to them honestly about all the things that I don't want them to do, when I've done most of it myself. Of course, now they are probably going to read this one day and ask questions, so I will say this, I will try my hardest to be truthful and to tell them what they need to know. Perhaps it's better if they know that I am not perfect and that we can make mistakes and still be happy, successful people.
- As much as I try not to have regrets, I have regrets.
Now? I need a drink, a cigarette and a therapist. If you are reading this, please be kind to me. I am not the same person I was then. I've gone through fire, smartened up, become a responsible adult and become a parent. I get imposter syndrome all the time because of all that stuff you see up above. You want to know why I work so hard? Try to surround myself with smart, amazing people? It's to make up for all those mistakes. I wish I hadn't wasted so much time. I do try to comfort myself with the thought that I wouldn't be the person I am today without going through all of that. It made me who I am.
Still, it's hard to reconcile the first 10 items in "That Was Then" with who I am today. See how I even had to put it in a separate section? Maybe I never will reconcile it. I will forever have this orphaned girl that I left in Canada. But today, I am introducing her to you. She's been bugging me lately anyway, and I know that I need to tell her story. I've thought recently that I might write a book, or do a story jam at The Moth (except for the fact that I am totally, overwhelmingly, terrified of the stage.) It's a story that seems to want to be told, but I haven't quite figured out how (or why, if I am being totally honest) to tell it, but I'll let you know when I do.
I have excellent friends who agreed to post with me today. Thank you so much to all of them and be sure to go check out what they have to say as well. (Please leave us some comment love, here and there, it helps so much to get support on vulnerable posts like these!)
Jill at Terra Savvy | Erica at The Elbow | Jen at Taking Off the Mask | Kate at Modern Home Modern Baby | Laura at My So Called Sensory Life | Monique at Razing Mayhem | Caroline at Salsa Pie | Leslie at Life In Every Limb | Tammie at Tam.Me | Melanie at Inward Facing Girl | Amy at Old Sweet Song | Michelle at Early Mama | Jen at Jen Epting | Sarah at SAWK Photography
FRIENDS WHO INSPIRED ME TO SHARE: Sarah at BlogStar encouraged me to join in and made me laugh about meetings, Erin Loechner's post on Design for Mankind was the first one I read, Amy at Coffee and Sunshine shares her negative and jealous feelings, Nicole at Making It Lovely writes about her mathmatical mind, Andrea at Four Flights of Fancy shares her feelings about blogging and PPD, Sandra at Raincoast Cottage isn't really shy and Jennifer at Life's Dewlaps likes to be alone.
If you want to participate, you don't have to be part of a group (although it does make it easier if you ask people to join you!) You can use the graphic above from Creature Comforts without permission. If you don't have a blog, this may be a good exercise in your journal or in an email sent to a friend. It's very liberating to look at the things that we are afraid to talk about, to own them, and to accept them. When you acknowledge the fear, you often let go of it's power.