‘If you ever want to talk,’ she said. And then, after a pause, ‘I’ve noticed you’re not yourself.’
My eyes filled with tears as I comprehended this unexpected kindness. ‘Thank you,’ I said, turning away milliseconds too late to hide the tell-tale glint.
I thought about what she said as I drove home. About her seeing something different in me and caring enough to reach out. Her kindness stayed with me the whole day, more than she knows.
But mostly, I thought about her declaration that I was not ‘myself’.
It struck me that she was right … but also wrong at the same time.
Because I was being myself. She just hadn’t seen that me before.
The me who, days before, had thought she’d lost herself under a mountain of responsibility, expectation, should-dos and to-dos. Who’d lived the past week on the edge of tears. Whose smile didn’t reach her eyes. Who walked and walked along beaches and bush tracks in an effort to find the missing pieces of her self.
That woman was me.
That woman is me.
And that me is not someone many people truly see.
Of course, it’s not the me I want others to see. And most people don’t, because I’m pretty good at hiding that part of me, covering up with ‘I’m fine’ and ‘Good, thanks’ and a smile.
Those who press further or know me better get, ‘It’ll all work out’ or some other positive statement said in the spirit of someone who’s trying to fake it till they make it.
Most people are happy with that.
Too much vulnerability is scary, right?
I know I’m lucky. My darker days are few and far between. And when they happen, I usually bounce back within days.
The despairing feelings dissolve, and lightness, positivity and resilience creeps back in.
Like I said, that’s the me most people know and see.
It’s the me I’d rather people see. And I’m pretty sure it’s the one most people prefer. No one wants to hang out with a Negative Nancy, a Sally Sadface or a Debbie Downer. Not for long anyway. They have their own problems.
But that me most people see is not all of me.
[bctt tweet=”The withdrawn, fragile me is just as much the real me as the strong, positive me. The introspective, reflective me is just as me as the chatty, friendly me.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
The woman the other day, her eyes pierced my positive ‘she’ll be right, I’m just tired’ veneer and saw right through to my aching vulnerability.
I thought few people could see that me.
In fact, that day, even I didn’t see that me. I thought I was fine. Well, more fine than a few days earlier.
But she did. And what she saw was more of me than most see.
In that moment, I was not myself as she had come to know me, but I was more myself than she knew.
And in that moment, as tears clouded my eyes, I was glad that I didn’t have to explain or hide.
I could just be me.
All of me.
Disclaimer: I’m in between writing projects at the moment, and honestly, I’ve been having those ‘What am I even bothering with all this for’ thoughts (thanks to a rejection, a feeling of stagnation about another project and even, I admit, a ‘When is it my turn’ moment or two – as well as a number of other curveballs that came at once). But I’ve come to realise this is part and parcel of the writing life.
Of life in general.
Those feelings come.
And if they don’t, remember, it’s okay to be vulnerable with someone else.