Today I am starting a new blog. I have watched others start new blogs when they enter new stages of their lives and I have always thought to myself, How silly. You are still the same person. Don’t throw out your old writing and dismiss your old life. But now I understand. I am the same person, but I am writing from a different place, and this new place needs a new space that has never borne my words before.
Blank notebooks are one of my favorite things. They contain so much possibility. I buy them and wonder if this time I will fill it with deep reflections and thoughts.
But a journal is not the right home for the words I need to say, no more than my old blog is right. Sharing is not enough to fill me- I am strong enough to admit I need listeners.
The main trouble, as I see it, is this: Comparison is the thief of joy.
My old blog was too much about comparison- that is why I must leave it behind. I displayed pictures of the places I had seen and wrote stories of my adventures- partly to record them, yes, and hold on to bits of them, but also to show them off to the world. Do you see me? I am worthwhile because of all I have done and seen and been.
The messiness that we all hold inside came through in snatches and fragments, but was always excused away the next morning. I’m fine, not to worry…
I’m not fine. None of us are. We are all trying to do this difficult and beautiful thing called life, but we only have a vague idea of how to do it, so we bumble along trying our very hardest to look like we’ve got it all together, but it’s a facade. We all have cracks and stains and parts that don’t fit together quite right. We’re all human.
So I’m stepping away from all of the comparison. From chipper facebook statuses, from carefully posed pictures, from carefully edited narratives. Instead, I choose honesty. That means writing about joy when I feel joyful, but also writing about isolation when I feel alone, or sadness when I am depressed. It means being my true self. It means facing down vulnerability and admitting I need love.
This morning, as I perused facebook before heading out for my morning commute, something snapped. All of the comparison overwhelmed me. The photos of smiling friends, the posts between friends, the tagging and the “like” counts all contributed to my irrational conclusion: I am not as loved as any of these people. I am alone. No one wants to share in my life. It was the specter of my fourth-grade fear, come to haunt me again: You will never be popular no matter how hard you try.
So I drove to school and I sobbed. I know it’s dangerous to sob while driving, but I’m still pretty amazed at myself for making it out of the house at all. While I sobbed, a part of my mind noted that fact. I’m going to class anyway. Twenty year old Laura would have gone back to bed. That little realization was enough to remind me of the progress I have made. I held a little therapy session in my head.
Why are you so upset?
Because I’m all alone in Michigan and my friends are having fun without me
and no one cares that I’m not there.
How does that make you feel?
Worthless. Unwanted. Broken.
None of that is true. It feels true right now, but it’s not. At the very least, God loves you.
And I prayed. God, it hurts. God, I’m lonely. God, please take some of this pain away. A miraculous thing happened: the crushing weight in my chest lifted. I was able to breathe. In and out, in and out. The need to sob receded. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the car, and sat still for a moment. Then I texted my husband, mother, and two best friends: I’m struggling hard with feeling lonely and isolated this morning. I think I’ve got it under control now, but prayers would be appreciated. I miss you. I grabbed my bag, locked the car, and boarded the bus.
It was not a perfect or whole recovery. I still feel the shadows at the edges of my thoughts. But I fed myself comfort food for lunch and set myself to reading empowering instead of comparing things, like the writings of Glennon, Heather, and Kristen. Their collective courage, honesty, and vulnerability led me to ponder and then write this. Later today I will bake scones for my husband, feed us a nourishing pasta meal, and contribute to a group project for school. I might talk to my mother, who is understandably worried about me after my SOS text this morning. I will definitely snuggle against my husband and tell him I love him. And when I pull the covers up to my chin tonight, I hope I will remember to say a little prayer of thanks that today was not nearly as bad as it could have been. In fact, it was a good day, because now I have a new place to be my true self.