17 Jan to be honest with you…
A few weeks back I was listening to a podcast from Radio 4. Comedian and actor Robert Webb read extracts from his, very entertaining, teenage diary. During the interview that accompanied these readings he revealed that his diary was not a place where he freely wrote his uncensored thoughts, but that more often than not, he would do a number of re-writes before he wrote it out in his diary… in ‘best’ i suppose.
As a teenager I thought about being the kind of person who kept a diary. But I didn’t. When I went to start writing I became embarrassed, and self conscious. Being self-conscious is not that unusual for a teenager, but this was a diary… something that by its very nature was private, so why was I?
I didn’t like the way I came across on the page. I thought i appeared immature. I couldn’t represent myself as I thought i should be.
So after about 3 entries I would give up.
It wasn’t until this last year or so that I have been able to stomach myself on the page. Been able to write truthfully about how i feel and what is going on in my head. And I don’t think it is because I have suddenly become a better writer.
And I’m 34.
I have been thinking about this over the last week or so about how at times my life has been a bit like that.
How I have been correcting myself, crossing out the
embarrassing honest parts to write in a better version of myself. How I’ve been trying to only show the ‘best’. How I have been fretting that I will get it wrong and so have on occasion been reluctant to show my real self.
I have spent quite-some energy trying to make myself more acceptable. Altering myself by degrees to fit into someone’s idea of who i should be. And ending up so often feeling ill-at-ease, as if i am going to be found out.
Living like that is a lot like hiding.
Hiding the parts of me that I don’t think you will like.
Like the fact that often I find parenting pretty dispiriting. Like the fact that sometimes I shout at my children. Or that my house is pretty messy (and I have a cleaner!). Or that I secretly watch Emmerdale.
Sometimes I have censored who I am, because i thought if i was honestly me i would be rejected.
For a long time in the baby-years, I was miserable and didn’t say anything because I thought it made me look weak. And then I was diagnosed with depression and (unsurprisingly) kept it to myself for a while because I was worried people would see me differently. That i would be over-looked, dismissed or pitied.
One excellent outcome of the last few years is – I’m not as bothered about this stuff anymore (at least
some most of the time). Going through really dark times makes you less bothered about appearances.
Or maybe more bothered. But more bothered about being honest
Because it was the hiding and pretending and performing that made me ill.
And every time I worry that I look a bit of a wreck, or that I am not achieving the prosperous life I should have (who made that load of crap up by the way?). Every time I get sucked into the performance mentality that says I should be a certain kind of person, as a Mum, as a wife, as a daughter, as a christian or as a woman, that i should be achieving certain goals and definitely mustn’t show weakness – I try and run in the opposite direction.
I remind myself that I do not have to perform to be accepted.
That I am accepted before I begin.
That it is all grace.
And the truth is, usually, when you are honest and you offer some vulnerability people respond to it gently and with love. Maybe we are all pretending to have it together much more than we do and what we are looking for is someone to let their guard down so we can all say “what – you too?”
Time to talk day is on 6th Feb, find out more about it here, and get involved if you can