I’m back after weeks of distraction; too much snow, too much grey weather, too much time alone, much-needed time away somewhere warm, a sprained foot (I’m ok now), my sick dog (he’s ok now) and other things that sapped any inspiration or motivation I might’ve mustered for a post. I’ve been sitting here in my office in the Hancock Tower, this somewhat sunny afternoon, Spring trying to show up, and wondering what to write about. What I notice besides the intermittent sounds of honking horns below on Michigan Avenue is the silence. It’s quiet on the floor except for a few people walking down the hallway. muffled voices. A few people have the doors to their offices open. Most don’t, including me at the moment. Glued to our various devices, it probably doesn’t matter anymore to a lot of us who we actually spend most of our time with, how it affects us, since it’s all virtual. But connection matters to me. It’s always been—no matter how scary relationships are for me—a core value of mine.
But I am ambivalent about connection. This is where the scary part comes in. Early on in my life, lonely and essentially invisible in my family. I took myself as my own companion. The family I grew up instilled in me that the world was too dangerous, the cost of relationships was too high, and nothing good could come of putting yourself out there, only disappointment. I believed it (and many relationships reinforced this belief) though something in me, the healthy part that wanted love and relationships, tried to fight it. But the frightened part of me won out.
Some people have asked exactly what happened to me in the mental health system, soup to nuts (hmm. bad pun) the whole story, not just bits and pieces here and there. I get that. And I will tell more in detail in future posts. Part of me wants to tell all the details at once and part of me doesn’t. It goes back to the old and familiar tapes: I feel deeply conflicted about being seen and heard. I have the need to speak out, have a voice. To speak for myself, for others, to find others (you?) who can relate, feel they have a voice. Who else is out there in the wilderness who has been through similar hell and feels alone, unable for whatever reason to speak up? All this collides with feeling overwhelmed by the telling of a story too raw still, insanely complicated, and the bone-deep feeling I will be punished for speaking up, for having a voice, and the feeling of futility. So, the act of writing this blog, just hitting “post” is a big deal for me. A small act of courage.