Ever since I was a little girl I always had stories running through my head. It was like I could narrate my life. Lines of dialogue would appear seconds before I needed them to. Often I just sort of knew how a particular situation would work out. I would often act them out ahead of time, playing house, talking to myself as a rearranged stacks of books. I have one memory of my dad overhearing me, walking up behind me, and telling me it would all work out. What would work out? I can’t remember and often I struggle with my memories. When you grow-up in a household muddled by discrepancies between what goes on behind closed doors as opposed to what happens on the outside, sometimes it’s hard to know what you believe. I’m reading a memoir right now, I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This, and the daughter struggles with a similar thing: truth-telling in light of other’s stories varying. I guess that’s what they always are at the end of the day, stories.
The stories we tell ourselves. The stories we pass down. The stories we write in order to both remember them as they once happened, but also in order to not forget them. Today my memory feels really muddled. It’s sticky and hot up there. My relationships with people feel strained. My sense of self a bit too abstract for my liking. I had someone call me out for my truth-telling. You say you live by honesty, but you can’t hear my truth. Something along those lines. It stung and then it started to feel true. So true. When I was younger I couldn’t hear anyone else’s truth because I was worried I would lose sense of my own and if I lost sense of my own I would lose my grounding in the chaos surrounding me.
Write it down to remember it. Hold onto it so I didn’t forget. But I’m no longer that younger version of myself. She’s grown up into a world that’s brimming of truths. I love the eager, honest conversations I engage in on a daily basis both on here and on social media and amongst friends. It’s like constantly weaving and re-weaving a beautiful tapestry: layers of truths and perceptions…but sometimes that’s how it feels: layered. Stagnant. Confusing. I strive for honesty, but maybe there’s a line I’m not supposed to cross. Maybe by telling all of my truth, I’m not leaving enough for myself. When I don’t have enough for myself I start becoming obsessive and scared and clingy. I start to feel like an imposter in my own life. Does this happen to you too? I talked to a friend last night on the phone. She reprimanded me for making a choice I had made numerous times before. Jumping into drinking she said. It’s always one and then…but this time feels different, more true. True.
Truetruetrue. Say it a few times fast and it starts to look anything but. I guess what I’m trying to say through this very muddled train of thought is all I’ve ever wanted are my insides to match my outsides. I want both to sparkle. I can sense that they’re beginning to reconcile. I just don’t want to scare them away. Maybe wanting is enough for now.
In her new memoir, Dani Shapiro writes, “What doesn’t go on Instagram: our bank statements; past due notices; quick glances exchanged when our son isn’t looking. Hangovers; sleepless nights; tuition bills. E-mails bearing disappointing news;; life insurance forms. Last wills and testaments. Great heaving sighs. The way sometimes we put our arms around each other early in the morning–bleary-eyed, the coffee brewing–and bury our heads in each other’s shoulders. It’s going to be okay, right? The arms tighten. It’s going to be okay. A shared vocabulary–like a soundtrack to our lives–so familiar that we hardly even notice which of us is speaking.”
What doesn’t get posted are usually the things that are shameful, too big for us, too scary, too much. I aim to expose those truths in myself too. Because both live inside of me, even if one is easier to grapple with. The best truths are usually the ugliest ones, the two-am revelations, the memories that have gone untarnished since they’re buried so deep down. The best truths are the hardest to say out loud. Perhaps they are easier to write down.