Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jump: reconciling two selves

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I'm wrestling with my self these days.  With the dichotomies of me and vulnerability lived out within those.  Like other writers I know, vulnerability slips on more like a glove in writing than it does in person.  I've heard the comments over the years, to the effect of, "You say things in writing that I never hear from you in person."  And I cringe, because it's true.  And yet, I have no intention or desire to be two separate people.

In reality, these pieces do overlap, but they are heavily weighted to one side.

Those who read my writing, with a few exceptions, are the ones who know the most real version of me.  It's not that I'm trying to be less real in person, but that in writing, all the intervening variables - the space and environment, the timing, the verbal and nonverbal cues of another - are not there to intercept my real self, to hinder transparency and connection. In writing, an artificial environment is present, where I need not struggle to compete for the attention of my listener; where I'm not derailed by what appears to be a bored expression, an uneasy shifting in their seat, or an almost palpable fear of hearing the raw, unfinished truth.  

I fear I'm too perceptive for my own good, and not always accurate, to be fair.  But I feel the squirming of the other, at times, beneath the intensity of the moment, as if a silent plea escaping from their eyes, Please, just tell me you're ok, that life is a struggle but all is really well.  Don't give me the details.  Don't leave me hanging in your unfinished-ness. 

We're afraid, skin to skin, eye to eye, of transparency.

In living transparently in my writing, I am not seeking to hide from transparent relationships in person.  Instead, I write this way out of liberation, that I don't need to hide my true self from those who are uncomfortable.   I don't need to alter my story to fit what they want to hear.  I can simply be me.

In writing, I live into my true self, and I learn how to take that out into my skin to skin relationships.

But I'm sensitive, I hate to say it.  It's true.  If I don't think you really want to know the truth, I will politely shut my mouth and a piece of my heart, and I will open them in my writing.   

I don't do small talk very well.  I've learned it, over the years, and sometimes, I prefer to stay there for awhile, like taking a breath at the surface of the water before diving down deep once more.  We all need to come up for gulps of air.   

But it's exhausting, to tread at the surface of superficiality, and there are many layers to this.  Not all is superficial, in the sense that we so often turn down our noses in judgment - that's so superficial.  There are less intentional, learned layers of superficiality, constructed largely out of fear, that trap us in relationship patterns that are somewhere in between shallow and deep.  I think this is where most of us reside.  Perhaps it is there, in the middle place, that I grow weary, for it has the look of depth without the ongoing experience of it. 

I hunger for what is real.  And this is what I wrestle with and seek to flesh out in my writing.  And this, much to my amazement, is where I have found other souls like myself who are willing, even in fear, to strip bare.

In this writing space, with others who take the deep plunge - this space where we make room for each others' unfinished tales of becoming - I jump into being known.  And I learn to trust in the free fall of vulnerability and watch the pieces of me drawn back together, reconciled, living underneath one roof in peace.  

Linking up with Lisa Jo, though yet again, this is not a five minute post... and Heather... and Emily.

20 comments:

  1. I hear you. Our world moves at such speeds, sometimes our brains and hearts need a realm that allows them to speak at their own pace. Only by allowing this, will we connect with an important bit of who we are. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes! Sometimes, it is the speed with which the world moves, and there is little time for those connections to happen in person, or for the heart to catch up and speak at its own pace. Thank you for hearing that.

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  2. I love this... so much truth here! "Perhaps it is there, in the middle place, that I grow weary, for it has the look of depth without the ongoing experience of it." YES - this is how I have felt in some friendships and just never had the words for it! Thank you!

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    1. It's a strange relief, isn't it, to know our experience is one that others share? I'm glad this spoke to you, and grateful for your words and presence here.

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  3. Hi Amber,
    What a treat; this is the 2nd time I have read your words this week. First at Kelli's and now at FMF...

    I so relate to your words here:"Perhaps it is there, in the middle place, that I grow weary, for it has the look of depth without the ongoing experience of it."

    blessings :)

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  4. Hi Amber,
    my very long comment just went missing...

    Your words here hit me hard as I can relate:"Perhaps it is there, in the middle place, that I grow weary, for it has the look of depth without the ongoing experience of it."

    A pleasure to read your words here and at Kelli's this week :)

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    1. So sorry your comment went missing! My blog seems to be causing some issues for people lately when they comment :-( Thank you, for taking the time to type your words again, because it's a gift, really, to hear them and know that you relate. Blessings to you.

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  5. "And this, much to my amazement, is where I have found other souls like myself who are willing, even in fear, to strip bare." the community of women, writers, that I have encountered while blogging has inspired me tremendously. to know and be known is what I crave and I find it here...thank God I experience it in my day to day life but its so beautiful to know that it can be found here.
    glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles with time on Five Minute Friday. loved this piece, thanks for sharing.

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  6. "And this, much to my amazement, is where I have found other souls like myself who are willing, even in fear, to strip bare." Ah, to know and be known. this community that I have embraced online has been like no other...so inspiring..connection & community in the same breath.
    so happy to know I am not alone in struggling with time on Five Minute Friday lol.
    this post was wonderful.thanks for sharing Amber.

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    1. I thank God, too, that you experience being known in your day to day life - that is a gift - and it is beautiful, as you said, to find it here, too. Thank you for saying hi here and sharing a piece of yourself :-)

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  7. "And I learn to trust in the free fall of vulnerability and watch the pieces of me drawn back together, reconciled, living underneath one roof in peace."

    such powerful words friend. Open heights terrify me it is that sense of falling into nothingness and being left at the bottom of the fall broken to pieces.... the thought of freefalling to find myself whole at the bottom is .... thought provoking.


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    1. "the thought of freefalling to find myself whole at the bottom" - wow. I hadn't thought of it in words like that, Karmen. Those are yours, and they are thought provoking, indeed. I'm rooting for you, you know? With the whole jumping thing...

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  8. I love this because I understand it. I try. I really try to speak the reply I would write when talking to people but it's not so easy sometimes. Thank you for telling me I'm not alone in that. I found grace in your post.

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    1. oh, I'm so happy that you found grace in this post. Grace is one of the most beautiful things to find... And I'm so with you - I try, sometimes, to "speak the reply I would write", but it is SO HARD to do on the fly. For me. Glad I'M not alone in that!

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  9. It's so true what you say about transparency! I also tend to be a bit sensitive in person as you mentioned here..sensitive to how others are feeling or what they are thinking. If I feel like the other person does not want to hear what I am saying, then I too will hold back. I would prefer to be real at all times actually, but others often don't prefer the realness if it isn't good news for example. I hate "having to alter" what we say to fit what they want to hear. "If I don't think you really want to know the truth, I will politely shut my mouth and a piece of my heart"- that is the phrase I related to most.

    If you tell it like it really is at times (when things are not ok)I swear some people will avoid you or the conversation. It's really a shame because even the most positive person, needs to be able to get real at times! Really good writing.

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    1. I love this, Rebekah - "Even the most positive person needs to be able to get real at times!" So.very.true. I find I run into this wall, sometimes, with others, where they think that being real is being negative - but they aren't necessarily the same thing. They may look like it on the surface, right? But realness is where life comes - real life - not the forced, inauthentic life of denying pain or struggle to give the impression of being positive. So, thank you for that.

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  10. I think I am broken haha. I have the opposite problem. In the real world I can say something then gauge how they respond and choose to continue or change topic. Online I have no idea how someone reacts. I could have just said something that completely changed their view of me. I have no idea who reads what I write. Most recently I just wrote the most vulnerable blog I have ever written and still feel uneasy about it. lol So I admire you for being vulnerable in your writing. I personally don't think it an easy task :)

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  11. I like how you related small talk to taking deep breaths of air- and true conversation as diving below. Such striking imagery. I certainly don't write much anymore, but there was a time when this was true for me too, to an extent. Thanks for trusting us so much to reveal how you really feel!

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