Pulling Back the Curtain

I had two different posts written—a semi-funny one I’ll put up next (when there are more than five people on the Internet) and one of those personal ones that leaves me twitchy with my finger on the “delete” button—but I trashed the serious one.

Then I started to wonder why, if that’s how I was feeling, I wanted to push it away.

Part of it is that I like to keep things light here, another part is that some things are best kept offline, but yet another part is that it might change how you look at me. It’s easy to make fun of myself about certain things, but it’s not easy to truly make myself vulnerable. And so I often slightly hide the truth, internalize any issues and avoid feeling anything slightly uncomfortable.

How’s that working out for me, eh?

So I decided to write about that because I think we all use this trick from time to time, telling people what we think they want to hear, maybe saying we’re “fine” when in fact we’re a little bit (or a lot) less.

I admit it’s not always easy to do. There are times I feel like not sharing more crap gives off the air that I’m always okay. Since part of me wants to believe that that’s true, it feels like this act never stops.

Keep smiling, keep the messy stuff all to yourself.

But there are times this seemingly harmless omission starts to eat away at me, and it’s those times I wonder how many other people write posts they don’t publish, delete all the stuff that might blur up the lines between how they are and how they wish they could be.

We all know why we do this, of course.

We’ve heard the importance to put on a brave face, project unicorns and glitter and “fake it ‘til you make it!” I’m sure that works for some people, but for everyone out there who’s struggling, watching others do only that just adds to their feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt. For many, watching others just hurts and adds to the need to hide out.

Of course we can’t change what other people do or how others perceive us. The crafting of a perfect persona is part of our culture now — online and off — whether we like it or not (and I choose the latter.) I know I have to balance between honesty and oversharing, between personal and professional.

Because regardless of whether it’s honest or not, what you put out there is you—for better or worse.

But it’s unrealistic to think you can be happy all of the time. That would be weird and unnatural, like how people’s faces vibrate when they try and hold in a yawn. (Just let it go, people.)

And even though many of us have good lives and good opportunities, normal life isn’t easy for anyone—even those without depression or “issues” they face.

But I can tell you that if you decide to share a bit of the muck, to let the curtains peek open a crack when you crave the light most, the people you need in your life won’t reject you. They support. They entertain. They listen. They can talk you off the ledge that you’re on, knowing they’ve stood there before.

It’s more about trusting yourself.

So I’m still not sure that I’ll publish that “serious” post, but it’s not because I’m ashamed. I just have other, funnier things that I want to share. But I know that when the time feels right, I’ll pull back the curtain again.

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52 responses to “Pulling Back the Curtain

  1. publish them all

    I like all faces of abs

  2. I’m as honest as possible, but when I feel like a total loser, because life does that to me sometimes, I try to keep it to myself. And I agree with Lance, I don’t think there’d be any of your faces I wouldn’t like.

  3. Personally, while I truly enjoy some of the outrageous posts other bloggers write, the posts that really draw me are the honest ones. It is possible to handle a very serious subject and still inject some lightheartedness into the post – I’ve seen bloggers do that. I don’t think it’s possible to be “up” all the time, and I think everyone appreciates a blogger who shows his or her true feelings from time to time.

  4. While I LOVE your funny posts, I LOVE your honest from the heart posts even more! Don’t stop being real, this is what we love about you. Your humor and your vunerability combined.

  5. I delete more than I post. I just hate bringing people down. I also don’t like sympathy. I know that sounds strange but when I write a bummer post it is not for sympathy. Sympathy makes me cringe.

    • Nope. I feel the same exact way. For example, I didn’t want this post to be about me but just everyone in general, yet comments will probably be able me which makes me feel pathetic and self-centered. Go me! Anyway, I get it.

  6. It’s tough, and as you know I have several “downer” posts that I don’t know if I’ll ever publish – one of them deals specifically with what you mentioned about the fear that it will change how people look at you. You can’t escape the fact that, even if you’re in a great mood tomorrow, that post will always be floating around out there in cyberspace. Another reason, like snoogiefisk said, is that I don’t want it to sound like I’m seeking sympathy. No matter how deft you are with words, you never know how others will interpret them. All that said, however, I believe people connect most with writers who are honest and *whole* – and no one is chipper all the time. It’s cathartic, it helps others connect with you and feel more normal, and allows you to grow as a writer and a person. Publish, I say. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. ;)

    • I already wish I hadn’t published this and put up the post I have planned for Monday instead, so how is that for hypocrisy? Anyway, I loved your last serious post. Show me more, my friend ;)

  7. It’s great reading amusing posts but I empathise more with people when they are open about how they feel. If people stop reading because of those posts they are the ones missing out. As you said no one can be happy all the time and sometimes it’s a comfort to know that others struggle to.

  8. Sometimes I find pretending everything is ok does make me feel better, other times,,it’s good to have a good chat with someone.

    • I agree. The last thing I ever want to do is dwell and harp on certain things that I feel I can’t change, which is think is a fine line with me. Sometimes I do slip that way, which is when I like to actually reach out so I don’t keep slipping back down…

  9. my thoughts are a bit contradictory right now – in the last couple years, I did not want people to view me as “the girl taking care of her dad” and “the girl who lost her dad” – which I know happens based on what people do and say when they see me, and it’s natural to express empathy. I do not mind it, but I do not want it to define me.

    what makes ME not want to share is partly that, but even more so, when I want to help my friends who need something, and their response is something to the tune of “you have too much going on.” I genuinely want to help, to listen, to talk, because that is what friends do and because that would provide much needed distraction. when this happens with some of my good friends, I almost feel offended, even though I know they do not mean it that way and if I were in their shoes I certainly would not mean any offense.

    see? contradictory. I am looking forward to a new year and a fresh start, because I am really REALLY good at helping people I love.

    • You said things much more eloquently than I did. We often soak everything up from other people like a sponge and want to help make things “better,” yet when they try to reach out to do the same for us, we perceive it as a burden somehow (even though we know that we’re not, it’s easier to think that we are.)

      I don’t want anything like this to define me either, which is why I hate sharing some things. I’m not the “depressed” one or the “sick” one that I feel I sometimes project. I’m just me, for better or worse, but always more than that. Here’s to a new year ;)

  10. It’s hard to strike a balance, especially when things are going bad. I’ve posted a few down in the dumps posts lately, although nowhere near as down as I actually felt, because my life has been turned upside down and I’ve found it hard to deal with. Keeping the worst back though seems sensible somehow. I don’t want to be a wringer and I do genuinely try to find little things to make me smile every day even when I am down. :)

    • Agreed. I believe there’s a big difference between journaling and blogging, and I know I never want to cross over those lines and actually put it “all” out there. But I also think keeping everything in isn’t good for me either. That whole, “secrets keep you sick” thing and all…And yes, the little things make me so happy. After all, what else is there besides little things? ;)

  11. I am Dana. I am a chronic deleter.

    But if you dare, I say do.

  12. Just read your post after deleting something I thought would be too controversial. You’ve spoken for us all

  13. I say post away…though I know exactly what you mean, I recently started my blog (which I have neglected for the very reasons you mentioned) and I am regretting some posts and have found myself rethinking and rewriting some (most) numerous times. I want to put it all out there but at the same time not comfortable with the vulnerability I’m feeling.

  14. I am a chronic suppresser. Push the shit down or way down the back and get the funny out because lets face it, FUNNY is more fun. But it IS unhealthy. I agree, let the honesty peek out a bit. It’s emotionally purging and none of us are infallible. Go Abby, great post.

    • I also prefer the funny and try to look for the humor with things, but I also know that sometimes I use it as a way to avoid other, serious things. Push that shit down and hope it goes away…but let’s face it, it doesn’t. Once in awhile you have to get it out and move on with the laughs ;)

  15. I love everything you publish here. Every single one. xo

  16. Publish and be damned! Oh, how I try to live by this maxim but find it so hard. I don’t have the problem of deleting posts but writing them without the internal censor. This is so silly because I only have ONE reader! Will my life change if she discovers that I have a PhD in whining, misspell a word or ‘let it all hang out” and she decides to stop reading? Hell no, but the censor will not be quiet. I would love to e able to drag it out of my head, wring it’s bloody neck and be rid of the angst. It’s good to have dreams, right?

    Like everyone else has noted, I will read every one of your posts, funny or not, because you always have something interesting to say. Love your work xxxx

    • Thank you, Tez! I agree that we are usually our worst critics, but at the same time we have to be careful about things that we share online. It’s a fine line, but I usually find that I find much more support than sneer. ;)

  17. This is good Abby. I believe in honesty, but I also believe that everything stays on the internet forever…hence the delete button. At the same time, you gotta be genuine like you said! And like everyone ELSE said, we love the way you write…so just keep being yourself. :)

  18. Well…you know my opinion. I am so grateful to you for taking the time to write this one. It was what I needed to hear, and from reading the other comments, I’m not the only one.

    Being funny and self-deprecating is my armor. But, it gets heavy sometimes. It gets old. I think it’s healthy and good to put down our shields and let people see what’s behind them. Even if it’s hard as hell to do that.

    The interesting thing is, for me, writing the darker stuff often opens the floodgates for other stuff. Like the lighthearted giggly words were being held back by the somber, serious ones. Writing it is cathartic, publishing it can be cleansing.

    Thanks for being you Abby, and for putting this out there.

  19. I always like finding out more about people. Well, about people I like. PUBLISH!

  20. There is nothing that you could say, think, publish that I wouldn’t think is worthy of the space and words. You are, to me, exquisite and right in all your forms. And I’m always here for you…my friend, always.

    xo

  21. I feel that you have every right to publish exactly how you are feeling, even if that means posting about your depression or other negative thoughts. Your supports will be there for you and will know better how to help you through these times. You are so worth the love and guidance you can get from those around you, and I believe the power of writing it all down is unmeasurable. Getting all of the thoughts down on a (digital) page helps me immensely, and I hope you do decide to write your ‘serious’ post. Know I’ll be there for you <3

  22. I have been having rough times here and there and am considering getting back to blogging as an outlet. I’ve missed it and all of you folks.

  23. I love you Abby. Honesty really is the best policy. Good luck.

  24. I’ve felt overwhelmed several times since blogging. I write humor too and have chosen to avoid the dark stuff. Writing humor ended up being the most wonderful therapy even though I’ve never been to a therapist.
    But, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, I emailed some of my blogging buddies with an idea. I wanted to write about my new adventure in a funny, but honest way. They were all behind me and I started writing The Boob Reports. I never went down the “poor me, why did I get cancer?” road because I didn’t feel that way, but I got unbelievable support from the blogging community. I decided the day I was diagnosed that I couldn’t change the fact that I would always have cancer associated with my name, but I could change the way people think of breast cancer. It turned out great!

    I’ve made a lot of friendships through blogging. I’m sure you have too!
    Hang in there.

  25. I would say, publish it! I have published a lot of more serious and personal things, and I am always surprised and touched at the support I get from my readers. Often, when I am feeling sad or having a hard time, the first thing to cheer me up is a kind comment on my blog!

    • Oh, trust me. I’ve posted a lot about depression and the like before and have been overwhelmed with the support. But sometimes there are things I just feel a little bit leery about sharing, you know? We’ll see. No big deal. It’s just nice to know people “get” it ;)

  26. I have deleted more than I have published as of late. As writers we are constantly struggling to find our “voice”, but what happens when our voice goes through puberty? It sucked at 13, it sucks now. Just keep being you, it’s obvious that people love you no matter what. xo

  27. I find that being vulnerable and just spewing all the personal shiz onto the interwebs is a reassuring way to be reminded that EVERYONE has their own stuff that they’re dealing with. I keep it a light tone on my blog but talk about plenty of horrifying personal issues and embarrassing mistakes… and then everyone comments with their own and we get to all have that blissful “OH MY GOD, YOU TOO?!” experience.
    So, if you hit publish… I’ll be here for the ride.

  28. I think posts like this are just as cathartic as publishing the serious posts. When you’re like “I have something to say and I feel weird and bad about it and I don’t know if I want to share it,” you’re sort of sharing it anyway, or at least the feelings that go along with it, so it’s helpful, and certainly not a waste of a blog post. But, I tell myself to publish it all anyway. Not like I always do, but it feels like the right thing to say.

  29. Oh if only things were unicorns all the time…perhaps if we incorporate booze so we have boozy one horned magical creatures running around. I internalize a lot mostly because I don’t want to deal with it myself and additionally because when people ask how you’re doing, they’re really just looking for you to say fine. I shockingly answered that question recently in a very unscripted way, and I think they wanted to run for the hills. Oops. Poor choice of an over share on my part. Or maybe that was deliberate. Hmm, the psyche is a weird thing.
    No matter, I want to hear (truly hear) all your things whenever you feel so inclined to share.

  30. I decided to do one of those serious posts on my blog, totally off topic from my business, and it surprised me (at the time, although upon reflection it makes sense) how many new subscribers I got. A few wrote me that the serious posts made it easier for them to connect to me, since it can’t all be the little vignettes I usually post. I’m really glad that you didn’t delete this one! Wtg!

  31. First of all, is 44 comments a slow time for you? You know what I would do for 44 comments? Sell my soul. Or my children. Definitely my children. Anyway, I completely feel you on this post. I always try to put up funny shit b/c, really, who wants to hear me complain? But you’re right that it isn’t normal to be happy all the time, & I think it makes everyone feel more miserable & inadequate to see all those “perfect” people. There are just some people in this world that are TOO happy for me. I instantly hate them. But I think that’s why I started to blog. I wanted to be real. To laugh at the ridiculousness of life & poke fun b/c life isn’t like an airbrushed magazine photo of Angelia Jolie. And to show people, particularly moms, that it’s O.K. not to be perfect. Our world increasingly puts emphasis on that & it’s not healthy.

    • Yes, I agree with everything that you said. Pollyanna can go take a hike along with the constant Debbie Downer. There needs to be a balance. And about the comments on this post? That many people/readers are a rare thing for me, which is proof that people relate to the less-perfect–a.k.a. “normal”–people a lot. Or they just feel bad for me. Either way ;)

      • I think I’ve got it. Instead of trying to lift people up, I’ve got to make them feel sorry for me! I’m changing my whole blog around. It’ll be One Sad Motha. It’s gonna be great! (P.S. all you’re other posts had about 5,000 comments too. During Christmas. CHRISTMAS! )

  32. I feel like I could have written this one…almost verbatim.

    It’s a dance we do…and you just have to trust your gut. Dark isn’t bad…it’s just different. I always figure that there are others in a dark or painful place who might read my words and take comfort in them, even if it’s only in the form of, “Damn, glad I don’t feel like Tammy!” And they probably can’t (or don’t) write…maybe I can help them by saying it in a way that hits home.

    You’re doing it right, Abby.

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