A few weeks ago, someone texted me “I read your post. I didn’t realize that you were going through that sadness. I am happy that it’s getting better for you.” They then explained that I could speak to them anytime about my sadness and they would be there for me if I needed to.
I immediately felt shame.
I also felt embarrassed.
I asked myself “was what I wrote that alarming?”
Any person that has my phone number to text me, would know that I use my sadness and pain to heal.
I am always going through “something” because I dig deep. I move through my issues because I want to see myself OUT of them.
I held my phone in my hands, reread the text a couple of times, and tried not to take it personal, but I just felt so… weird.
To unpack the text and how it made me feel, my mind starting speeding through questions like:
Aren’t we all sad sometimes? yes
Aren’t we all oscillating between getting better and feeling worse? seems like it
And wait, but doesn’t this texter go through sadness daily, too? pretty sure
Isn’t it clear if I wanted and needed to talk to them…I would? sometimes, not always
Is sadness unique to me? absolutely not
Okay, so I had the answers to the questions above, but still needed to figure out why I felt ashamed and bothered by this person’s words. It’s been lingering and over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on “Why do you write, and why do you share?”
Well, I write daily because it helps me process my pain and it’s my medicine. I also write because holding stuff in is unhealthy. I find freedom in my writing because it’s an independent act and where I find my sovereignty. My writing is like opening the air valve on the pressure cooker. My mind is the pressure cooker.
Growing up, I found comfort in reading the stories of others and finding a common ground. In middle and high school, I devoured every edition of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. My mom and I would read memoirs, autobiography, and biographies together, then have hours-long conversations extracting their life lessons and inspirational messages. Consuming what others have shared about their lives, has made me feel a tiny bit less alone in this very confusing world.
Even though I don’t share much, when I do it’s with the hope that others will know they are not alone in their thoughts either. It’s also affirming knowing that at least one person has felt what I’ve felt. Sharing is human. Wanting to be seen and your experiences acknowledged is important. I share to recreate feelings of community.
I want what I share to elicit responses like, “I feel that way too, here is what I do to heal” or a “let me share my story”. I crave engagement with people that have similar and even contrary experience from that of my own, and for them to feel comfortable opening up about what they have been through. And I have gotten texts and messages like that after I post my writing, where a person and I will have a conversation about a shared emotion or experience.
Then the question remains, why did this particular text make me feel unsettled?
Because it made me feel isolated. It reminded me of times during my childhood and adolescence, when my rawness and honesty, was never met with a “omg me too!” or a sense of understanding. Instead, it was met with confusion, suspicion, fear, or rejection. So, I turned to books, blogs, articles, or consumed photography, documentaries, and films to supplement that desire to feel understood.
With this text, I did not feel seen but just looked at. For those couple minutes after I received it, I felt so alone and exposed. I felt alone in “feeling sadness” that I am pretty sure this person has felt.
I want my writing and sharing to extract vulnerability from other humans and a willingness to bear our souls together.
I don’t write and then share because I need a therapy session from others. I don’t want someone to just listen. I want engagement. I want an open dialogue. I guess I desire that we are entering from the same point of entry. I want discussions and not for one person to play patient and the other doctor.
So, I guess what I want to express is that, when we read about people’s vulnerabilities, don’t point and stare. Don’t only think of how you can help them.
Think of how their vulnerability made you feel, or if you have ever felt something similar? And then share that. Help is nice, but sometimes we don’t want to be saved.
What I want is to be understood. What I want is for people to reflect on their lives honestly. Then I want to form a connection from there.
This text also helped me to understand the importance of writing and sharing. I write so I am no longer stuck in my own thoughts. They leave me. My writings also reflect specific periods in my life. They are like photographs and just snapshots of where I was at that moment. What that person wrote, made me feel like I had to emotionally stay attached to those feelings, although they had passed, and I overcame them.
I’ve made three conclusions from this encounter 1) keep writing 2) keep sharing 3) remember what you want from both 4) stay honest