There is a lot I don’t write online anymore, for a lot of reasons.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with is that I’m very good at compartmentalizing. Who needs to see which Venn diagram of the pieces that comprise me. Who is allowed into one safe space, but not another. Having a rubric of ‘what do I gain from sharing this with this part of the diagram, where and who is likely to find a way to use this against me? And what is my plan of defense if I need one?’ And there is virtually no public safe space. What happens when it becomes too much to manage all those pieces of the Venn diagram. What if the pieces that used to provide structure are merging and blending? What if, as those compartment walls become exhausted, I/we were allowed to integrate them into our being instead of watching everything fall to pieces in disintegration?
When I tell a community that I am an invisible part of that they matter to me, even though some of the people that I am directing that message at and meaning, truly, from the tenderest parts of my heart are not allowed to see that part of my Venn diagram, and even though I suspect that due to other parts of my Venn diagram, I don’t actually matter to them… It’s sometimes a heavy weight to carry. The price for ‘appropriate’ compartmentalization.
And when through experience I know that it’s dangerous and terrifying to stand up, stand out, and that even when I do, the validity of my voice, my opinion is questioned and judged or outright ignored or not heard. And when despite the danger and terror of standing up and trying to stand out, I do try to stand up and stand out, I am still invisible until I am heard and shouted down or ignored until I no longer have a voice, or the will to keep speaking. Whether that’s on a timeline where the algorithms bury me, or a business room where I can never find the right way to ‘show value’ (or maybe it’s that I’m in my 40s and no longer a young, fresh, face — there’s a reason that age discrimination laws exist, or maybe I just suck at ‘showing value’), there is an echoing loneliness. And as an introvert, sometimes I find more company with the wind, and the rain, in the dirt, the whirring of a spinning wheel, the pieces of me you’ve never seen (to steal a line from someone else).
Where is the possibility for wholeness? Where is integration? Some days even keeping Venn diagram pieces of me showing up is exhausting. Bringing the whole puzzle to the table seems… illusory and dangerous. I am so proud of my people with the loud and strong voices, the right words that come at the right time, in the right order, in the right framing, in their wholeness. And for the rest of us, in the in-between places, it has to be ok to be in liminal spaces. My heart aches, I am tired.
Am I too much for ‘living out loud’? I don’t perceive myself as whole, and picking my pieces apart threatens the integrity of my being. And being told I am too much for sharing what I do share — even now that I don’t share at the levels I used to share — tells me, my whole self is “valued,” but please keep it contained and quiet and you don’t need to talk about that and what kind of ‘value’ is that? But pieces keep escaping from their compartments awkwardly, demanding to be said when they shouldn’t be said because there is so much not to say that sometimes they break their constraints. And then sometimes, they wilt in the deafening silence having been said.
Doris Lessing wrote a book called
The Golden Notebook about the fragmentation of self & society, and one woman’s attempts to overcome it eventually by trying to combine four different journals into one ‘golden notebook.’ These days, it might be called the ‘bullet journal.’ I have this space, I have another blog (or two), I have a notebook with therapy notes, a bullet journal, a general reflection journal, five DayOne journals, calendars… and others. What does the ‘whole self’ even mean when even in the best of times, I can only expect even those close to me to see a facet of myself?
There is no graceful way for me to end this. I am experiencing the breakdown of my compartments as integration of my whole self, and the fear remains of others picking over the pieces of those evolving compartments and leaving me doubtful, silenced, hurt and all of me present, but still in pieces.