Correction, Not Compromise

“Be true to yourself. But that’s something everyone says and no one means. No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.”

That’s an excerpt from The Young Elites, written by Marie Yu. It’s an interesting quote and a bleak one. I find it’s not always true, that most people are fortunate to find at least one person who will accept them during the good days and the bad. Conversely, you’ll find out who cares or even pays attention in situations that would often benefit from ignorance in that regard. You know, if you find yourself in the hospital. If you find yourself dealing with bleak feelings or bouts of irritability. If you lose someone and you’re mired in grief. Those are the times you most need people to be there for you, and those are the times you’ll find out who appreciates you for you and not just what’s convenient to them or what handful of aspects appeal to them.

I have several friends who have seen me hit rock bottom and stayed with me as I struggled to step back up. They’ve offered assistance and a shoulder to lean on, a couch to crash on, or money to borrow until I could get back on my feet. I am fortunate for them.

The thing is, even having people appreciate me for who I am, it’s often difficult to appreciate myself. Where friends, true friends, have been forgiving of my missteps and mistakes, I’ve often found myself having a difficult time forgiving myself. I don’t often feel worthy of their kind words or their assistance or their time. I struggle with being me because I don’t think I’m very good at it.

Additionally, I put myself out in the open a lot. I published and put out novels. I regularly post poetry and writing tips and opinion pieces. I write about my family, friends, and especially about myself, and I’m generally pretty open about it. On paper, anyway. I express my emotions as fully and deeply as I can, because I feel to do otherwise would be disingenuous.

Exposing those aspects of my life and my psyche is somewhat taxing, though. It puts a spotlight on me and allows others access to my life, and there is an inherent pressure in it. For everyone that messages me thanking me for talking about something they couldn’t or didn’t want to, I can feel others pulling away from me in disapproval or annoyance or disgust. It’s tempting to rein it in. It’s tempting to fudge the truth or to shy away from the embarrassing or negative aspects of my life, especially when I consider that by being so open, I could very well push away people who would otherwise be interested in me as a friend or something more.

The last week and a half, I’ve been tapering off from liquor and so have been sober (in so much as not reaching a state of even tipsyness), going through the day, going to bed and waking up with a clear mind for the longest period of time in… Christ, I don’t know how long. That clarity, though, has helped remind me, though, that I value honesty above all else.

I was raised to be honest, I was raised to try and help others where I can, and those lessons are ones I’ve spent my whole life trying to live up to. I haven’t always been successful at that. I’m far from a saint. All the same, I’ve done my best to do right by people and to be there when they needed someone.

I used to write long Facebook posts about thoughts and feelings I had. When I started this blog, I found my words could reach so many more people. It gave me an opportunity to talk about things that others found uncomfortable, to confess things about my life, to relate experiences that came from a difficult family or personal lifestyle. Not all of my posts are agreeable or wide-read, but they’re honest. They’re as true to me and my life as they could possibly be.

If even one person messages me or comments to tell me my words meant something to them or to thank me for talking about an experience, if one person feels better about the things they’ve gone through because they know someone else has gone through it, too, then it’s worth it not to compromise who I am.

I forgot that, for a while. I forgot I wasn’t just writing for me. I forgot I was writing in hopes I could reach others and help others and let people know it was going to be okay.

Shit, I forgot it was going to be okay. Probably. Maybe. Probably.

I wrote somewhere a while back that I’m starting to come to terms with the idea that it’s more important for me to sure others felt safe and secure than it was for me to be happy. Not that I was incapable of being happy, not that by not being happy I was necessarily sad. I meant that maybe I’m meant to be here more for others.

If that’s the case, I’m happy to put my demons on display. Maybe not immediately, but always completely. Honestly. Being true to yourself means not conforming to expectations, I suppose, but it doesn’t mean being content with damaging behavior. You can improve yourself without compromising who you are at heart or being someone else’s ideal, and I plan on doing that, and I plan on telling the truth about it.

I’ll tell you it’s fucking hard, that I’m struggling. That I want to tear my hair out and give up some days, that I wish I felt comfortable enough with others to not do this 95% by myself. I’ll tell you that sometimes I want to cry myself to sleep and I don’t because I don’t want to have to sleep on a damp pillowcase. I’ll tell you sobriety is bringing me nightmares and heartache and that I don’t know what to do with myself or who to talk to, and that I’m astonished at how much of my life I’ve wasted with grief and anger.

I’ll tell you I don’t know what to do, what I’m doing, what I’m going to do next.

When I started this blog, I made a promise to never lie to you. Not about myself, not about my life, not about anyone else. I won’t. Ever. I’ll keep writing about difficult things, my fuck-ups. I’ll keep sharing short stories and poetry, and stories of the people I love and the world’s beauty. Hopefully you learn something from my mistakes. Hopefully you’ll know it’s okay to make some of your own. Hopefully you won’t feel alone.

Most importantly, know that whatever I write about, whatever I’m going through, you’ve got someone here in your corner if you need it. Most importantly, know that you’re going to be okay.