(continued from here, posted 8/21/11 )
This post—or series of posts—is very complicated. I’ve been writing and revising much of this over the past few days. It’s like a puzzle, this set of ideas. I feel I’m on the verge of being able to articulate this sort of epiphany I’ve recently had. But I’m still not sure what that epiphany is.
I wish I could just write it all out, but there are so many thoughts to connect. I have been working on this post for an hour and a half and what I’ve ended up with is several pages of haphazardly organized stream of consciousness—ideas that are all neatly linked in my mind, but still cannot find the places where they should connect on the page. I’ve cut and pasted until I’ve forgotten what order I want things to go in.
So I’ll tell you this:
I met a new friend last week. Jill’s great and we have a lot in common.
But this isn’t really about Jill. In fact, it’s not about Jill at all, though she does play an important role in all of this. Bare with me.
What I want to write about is what brought me to this moment, tonight, where I should be walking past what was once a used bookstore with this person I met online and how I should think about how sad it is that the bookstore is no longer there. This is about how I used to browse the stacks there, looking for a particular book. This is how I got to a place in my life where I am sharing my story with people I have not yet met face to face.
As Jill and I walked past what used to be Twice Sold Tales, I flashed on this journal entry I wrote almost exactly six years ago. Of course, I didn’t know in that moment when I had written that entry; I had to look it up when I got home. What I remembered of it was that I wrote about how I was searching for something very specific. I remembered that I had written about how the book does not exist and how I will have to write it one day. When I got home I jumped on my laptop, sifted through my files and found an entry in which I’d written:
You can’t find a book that’s anywhere near what you’re looking for… you find nothing about a woman who lost her only love. You find nothing about the woman who learned to live after she died. You find nothing about how ghosts really do exist or what it all means—what this life all means.
And you realize, then, as you’re leaving the bookstore that what you’re looking for is the book you’ll have to, one day, write. And you think of how painful that will be, and you wonder if you can take it. And you know that it’s all too big, too frightening, that it all seems senseless and impossible and that you’re better off tucking your head down, heading back inside yourself where the true story exists.
I ended the entry with these lines:
Or maybe you’re just not done living your story. Maybe you have to live some more before you can start to write it. Maybe you don’t know what it’s about yet.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m writing Acceptance now. I wonder, too, what got me to this place where I can so openly share all of this. Here I am, putting my story out there for all to see. I ask myself: why? What had to happen for me to get to this place?
When I was in grad school my thesis advisor kept asking me the same question about Unplanted. Why now? What has shifted in Mattie’s life that’s caused her to feel and do these things?
That’s what makes a story worth telling–being able to show, whether explicitly or subtly, not just what happened, but what makes that thing significant.
And the truth is, I don’t know what the catalyst for telling all this was. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why now. I suppose it’s just that I have done enough—not everything, but enough—for my Self and Soul to feel ready for this. Ready to share. Ready to be seen.
Jill started reading my blog before we met face to face, and I have another new friend, Linsey, who has also been reading this. I’m not sure what keeps them reading, but they do. I worry sometimes that they—and whoever else is reading this—are learning too much too soon. But then I remind myself that I made the choice to put these things out there. Even so, it feels strange to introduce people to the Life of Kim in this way.
I’ve thought a tremendous amount about what it means to share my story when I meet new people, at what point I should share it when forging new relationships. I’ve also thought about what it means to share my story and to post all of these intensely personal thoughts and anecdotes online for all to see, without being anonymous.
The more I write and process and talk about Acceptance, the more I realize what it is that’s brought me here, to this point where I can write so fiercely about such intensely personal things. I realize that it’s about being seen and wanting to be seen. I think of all the ways my Self has grown in just the past three years, especially since I wrote that journal entry I posted a week ago.
I want to show you some things I wrote two years ago when I was doing some of my darkest journaling. I want to show them to you but I do not want you to see them.
I craved the ability to share, to open a very raw part of my Self. I craved the ability to be seen.
The things I wanted most were also the things I most feared.
So here is another thing you need to know about my story: Throughout the process of healing and learning more about my Self, I have come to learn that I can be seen again. A life that I thought had died managed to renew itself. And that, perhaps, is one more thing that this project is about. Writing it is a process of discovery. In writing about my relationship with Scott—that is, the relationship we have now—and by sharing parts of that story with you here, I am coming to realize my own powers and possibilities and limitations.
For at least two years, I’ve read PostSecret every Sunday morning. In an ideal world, I read it while I am sitting on my couch sipping coffee and a loyal and groggy pit bull is pressed up against my thigh. It doesn’t always happen like that, of course, but at some point on any given Sunday I look at PostSecret. I think about the people who wrote the secrets, and I think about all of the people who are reading them and how each secret resonates differently with every individual.
I’ve seen several secrets that felt as though I could have written them myself, and I send a tiny, silent thanks to the person who sent it in.
I’ve never sent in a secret. I think about it all the time, though. But it seems there are dozens of postcards I could create, each one reflecting a different part of me. I’ve posted a lot of those secrets here lately. I am sharing more and more of my story, and I often wonder at what point I’ll put on the brakes and, at the very least, slow down the amount of sharing.
Still I do not know where I am going with all of this. What I do know is that, over dinner in a crappy Greek restaurant, I talked at length with a person I’d just met and I didn’t have to tell my story because she’d been reading my blog and she knew. And, perhaps because she already had been exposed to this very vulnerable side of me, or perhaps because she felt safe, or perhaps because she just needed to, Jill shared some very personal things about herself.
So I am left thinking not so much about myself or my Self, but of all of us, all wrapped in the cocoons of our own stories, waiting for a very specific time, when we are ready to start wiggling around inside those walls we created, when we are ready to start poking our ways through those walls and into a big, frightening world.