Sunday, October 9, 2016

Coming Out: Overexposed

Yesterday I "came out" on Facebook and said that I have decided to vote for Hillary Clinton. My reasons are there and anyone can look at it who is that interested. I got a lot of positive and negative feedback, and only a couple of actual flames. It was, in my mind, a successful post because almost everyone behaved civilly, uncommon for (a) a huge chunk the people I know, and (b) Facebook in general. But today I feel like I do when I get drunk and wonder how much of a fool I made of myself to everyone. This is one of my real problems: Social anxiety. It has plagued me since I was a very, very young girl. Like, morning-after regrets after slumber parties of all things, or church camp or even just recess.... I beat myself up, rehash every moment that could construe me in a bad light and just make all the lights point at me in just that way. I see the pattern of it now when I look back, but also in the present time. I have not been able to escape it, so I live with it.

I stay out of the spotlight mostly, but I also do seek out safe ways to step outside my safe little world and be myself with other people, even though I know I might feel loads of shame afterward. I joined the Order of the Eastern Star and put myself in the group that's responsible for meal preparation and serving. Yesterday I agreed to teach classes at Joann's on my mom's side of town. I went to the first night of my class reunion, if not the bigger get-together the following day. I still felt the pangs after just the first night and was glad I chose not to commit to the next night. I can push my boundaries and respect my own limitations at the same time.

That's what all these "coming out" posts are about. They're about being real, dropping the mask of having it all together. They're about participating in the world even though I feel SO .... overexposed, potentially judged. And saying to myself that that's okay and proving to myself that I can live with it. Things big and little....the things that make me ME. I read something the other day about how we develop habits to keep other people far enough from us that we are not vulnerable. And it's true! I have a quick response to most things that would offer me connection to another person. So I am examining myself in one specific area to identify and sort of reprogram myself to listen longer, not planning a response in my head when the other other person is talking, giving their words time to soak in, and really considering the occasion or event that's being suggested so that I may connect even if it makes me vulnerable yet again. That way I can have some real-ness in more of my relationships, and even come into contact with opportunities that I wouldn't if I just shut the other person down with some cool but dismissive response. Oh, hell, real life is such hard work!!!!!

The reason I do these things is to continue to be an example. Primarily to my kids, and my grandkids. I look at them and hope that they see me flawed yet pressing on determinedly, and are encouraged that they can do the same. I've presented myself as being a badass pretty much my whole life, while inside feeling very much like a wounded bird. I've done SO many more things I'm proud of than not, though I feel SO much more shame than confidence. To quote my son, I am "deeply conflicted."

All of this to say, I feel bad today because I was courageous yesterday. It's just part of the cycle. Like that prophet that slew all the prophets of Baal and then the next day went and sat under a tree and begged God to just let him die. It's the human condition and I am SOOOOO frailly human. It's okay to feel like shit as long as I know that I am NOT shit. And it's okay if you do, too.

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