Tag Archives: authenticity

Verdict: Not Guilty

I don’t talk about it a lot, but when I was much younger I was in a relationship with an older guy for more than five years. He wasn’t a bad guy, but it was a very bad relationship for me that left me feeling trapped and has contributed to many of the issues I still have today.

At a time in my life when that should have been carefree and fun, I was miserable.

I cried myself to sleep way too often.

I tried to disassociate myself from the situation and numb my feelings by developing maladaptive coping behaviors I (unfortunately) still rely on today.

So why did I stay when a couple months in I knew that something was off?

It’s complicated, but aside from the fact that I was young and not 1/100th as strong as I am now, the main reason I stayed was the guilt. Everyone around me was jealous of such a “great catch,” and I was convinced that something was wrong with me for not feeling the same way towards him as he did about me. I didn’t trust my own feelings and came to view them as less valid than those of anyone else.

So as miserable as I was, I stayed.

Needless to say, that breakup was a huge breakthrough—I moved on immediately—and I’ve grown leaps and bounds through the years. And while I still have a long way to go, I’ve learned to manage emotions much better and have certainly built up a strong sense of self.

But sometimes guilt still crops up, be it a subtle ache or a stab in the chest.

It’s rarely guilt over actions. Experience has taught me that feeling guilty in those situations gets me nowhere fast (or perhaps more appropriately, it sends me backwards.)

It’s usually guilt over emotion, at sometimes not feeling things that I think I should feel — which is entirely as screwed up as it sounds. You don’t need my examples, as everyone has those things they feel they “should” be feeling or doing if only to make someone else happy or satisfy some societal norm.

But lately I’m learning to let go—of the past, of the “shoulds,” of the guilt.

Because if I’ve learned nothing else through the years, it’s that a) hitting the garbage disposal instead of the light switch at 2am will cause me to crap my pants and b) guilt serves no purpose.

It fills my mind up with doubt instead of acceptance of things as they naturally are, and when I make decisions just to make someone else happy or because I feel I “should”, it usually just leaves me miserable.

While I know I’m not one of those people that can completely let go — I’ll always be a “thinker” and entirely too sensitive — I remind myself that while I can change my behavior when needed, I can’t change what I feel at my core.

Which, apparently, is the need to include the phrase “crap my pants” in this blog post.

But my point is that years ago I vowed never to feel trapped again. While at the time I meant it in terms of a relationship with someone else, I’ve come to realize that it applies to the relationship with myself more than anything.

Guilt is a self-induced trap.

We all have the choice to let go.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Be You. Someone Might Like It

Have you ever felt this way?

comic

I suspect that even the most secure, independent individual has had at least a few moments in which they stare at the computer and wonder, “Weren’t those last couple status updates or tweets funny or clever enough? And what about that last post, the one I poured my heart into? Why aren’t the comments there?”

The deafening silence can cause you to doubt yourself and wonder where you went wrong.

But this just in: If you’re doing what you want to do—not what you think you should do—you’re doing everything right.  

Here’s a Secret

Along with running out of hand sanitizer, the “recent posts” sidebar to the left of what you’re reading can cause me anxiety at times. When I publish a new post, an old one gets knocked off the cliff like the little hiker guy on the classic “Price is Right” game.

That means certain older posts that I liked are banned from the spotlight forever (unless I annoyingly link back, which I probably will,) forcing me to resist the urge to gently caress them while softly whispering, “You’re awesome. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not.”

Because while you’re the sum of your work and you build a community by consistently putting yourself out there, at the end of the day it’s truly a case of “What have you done for me lately?”

It gets harder to think of new things to say when you’ve been doing this blogging thing for a while, and there are a lot of times I wonder how much more I can blog, how many more things I can possibly talk about.

(After all, you can only bury a cat in a bright red sweater so many times before people say, “Hasn’t she said that before?”)

And I openly admit that I still fall prey to feeling insecure when something is greeted with silence, but I’ve also accepted that’s just human nature and there’s nothing wrong with that.

We want to be liked. We want to be acknowledged. We want to connect somehow.

This is where it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and do what seems to be working for everyone else. That’s why it often seems like there aren’t many new ideas —simply new people regurgitating the same things people have said in the past and being praised for reinventing a wheel that’s been rolling for years. 

But when you sacrifice authenticity for external validation or cling to attachment to results — (see cartoon above) — you sacrifice the chance to truly show off who you are.

I don’t want to mirror what’s around me, especially if it’s mediocre.

And while being the “first Abby” and not the “next (insert name of popular person I’ve probably never heard of here)” is sometimes greeted with silence,  that’s better than way too much noise.

However, once in awhile it’s okay to want someone to whisper, “You’re awesome. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not.” Or wish for a laugh track to play after every lame joke that I make. And a round of applause when I remember to take the recycle out the morning before they come by…

Anyway, just be you and someone might like it.

If you’re lucky, that someone is you.

Like the blog? Buy the book?

You’re a weirdo, but that’s okay

Hey, you.

Yeah, you.

Come in a little closer, closer…

Good.

I want to tell you something very important, something I think you should—no, something I think you need to hear.

Are you listening?

Good.

I just want to tell you that you’re not alone,

in feeling the way that you do.

You might be a weirdo for dozens of things,

but never for just being you.

I know, I know…

You’re rolling your eyes and sighing out loud,

ready to click of this site.

Letting that guard down is not quite your style,

and talking about it’s not right.

But I bet you’ve had doubt, I bet you’ve had fear,

I bet that you’ve questioned your thinking.

Walking that line between okay and not,

feeling your heavy heart sinking.

Days when you feel like the silence you hear,

from words that the others don’t say,

is a chasm to fill with assumptions and doubts

about how you have failed in some way.

It might help to know that you’re not by yourself,

and that someone else feels that way too,

But maybe they don’t know just what they should say,

as they’re not as open as you.

Most people won’t tell you about all the times,

they feel cheated or hurt or confused.

The might never speak of the ache that they feel

when their confident ego gets bruised.

It’s often believed being strong has to mean,

going alone on that ride.

But a stronger thing still is to make yourself fragile,

and speak of those things that you hide.

I bet there are times when you read through a post

and think, “I feel the same exact way.”

Relief in the knowledge that someone out there

expresses the words you can’t say.

I know this is true as I see it a lot,

in the comments I read here and there.

How someone knocks down any walls that they built

through the words that they’ve chosen to share.

They might feel a vulnerable itch as they write,

not knowing how things will turn out.

But even if one person kind of relates,

it’s enough to erase any doubt. 

The person who gets it might not be the one,

that you talk with in person each day.

It might be a “stranger” from some other state,

that takes time to read things you say.

The distance won’t matter when matched against depth,

and authentic relationships form.

As shedding the layers of doubt that we wear,

reveals there is no baseline or norm.

My point is that often we feel like we’re weird,

and honestly, that’s probably true.

But it’s not for the reasons we probably think,

It’s never for being just you. 

Now feel free to click off this site if you must,

I know that his poem’s kind of lame.

But sometimes you need a swift kick in the ass,

and this weirdo is eager and game.

Chit Chat

I have discovered that I don’t do well with small talk.

While I can carry on these obligatory pleasantries with the best of them, I can’t help but feel that it all seems very forced and formulaic. And if you know anything about me past my love of baseball and green vegetables, you know that I abhor doing things “just to do them” or because I feel I have to. 

Superficiality is my karmic kryptonite.

If there isn’t a genuine motivation behind an action, my bullshit detector goes off and I lose interest. Warning signs may include me looking past your head, pretending to look busy at my computer, deep breathing (not in a creepy panting “What are you wearing?” phone call way though) and occasionally busting out in Trikonasana in an attempt to avoid my urge to shake you and scream, “What in the world do you want?”

1triangle

This is Triangle pose, for those unable to pronounce Trikonasana in their head.

Don’t get me wrong.

If you are not a close friend of mine (this is not a small club) and are really interested in how my weekend was or how work is going, I would be delighted to briefly tell you about it with the understanding that you probably won’t remember anything I tell you by the next time that we talk.

Once this basic exchange is complete, please feel free to move on with your day. You are no longer obligated to engage in meaningless conversation with me about things you really have no interest in learning.

But if I’m feeling pressured politeness, I might then reciprocate with a brief inquiry myself, knowing full well that most of the time your motivation for asking a specific question is for the sole purpose of me asking you about that very topic.

“Hey Abby! Did you happen to go to the bar this weekend and get wicked twisted, waking up in a vintage Michael Bolton concert T-shirt with a new tattoo you don’t remember getting?”

“No, actually I didn’t.” (Insert dramatic pause as they wait for it….sigh.) “Did you?”

And there go five minutes of my life I will never get back.

This is not meant to sound harsh, but rather to point out the fact that a majority of time spent with people is full of superficial chit chat, small talk—things to fill a silence that supposedly speaks volumes about our inability to constantly communicate as a species.

While interaction is obviously necessary and something that I personally enjoy—at a genuine level—repeatedly having the same meaningless conversations with people tends to push me into concocting ideas on how I can telepathically repel bullets of bullshit like a pinball machine.

But I will always engage in the obligatory pleasantries required of me, as once in awhile people can surprise you—in a good way (not in a creepy panting “What are you wearing?” phone call way)—and I thrive on those fleeting moments of genuine connection. 

I actually crave relationships and care about (most) people at a level bordering on oversensitivity at times, even if I sometimes end up disappointed. That’s how I roll, and I make no apologies for that—at least not out loud.

It’s just that I pick and choose my emotional investments.

And if we both know that it’s filler, why fill it?

This is not to deter people from talking to me or ever commenting—quite the opposite, in fact. If you can be unapologetically honest and not feed me what you think I want to hear—whether it’s while blogging, working or talking to me on the street—you might have just been elevated from superficial small talker to a member of that very small club mentioned above.

We have good talks about life, food, sports, other people — I promise it’s worth it.

But life is short and sometimes, silence is golden (and much preferable to a blaring bullshit detector.)