I wrote words a couple days ago that needed to come out. To be honest, I did not know what they were until they were out. Writing them was healing and defining and painful and invigorating all at once.
As soon as I pressed publish, I was so tempted to delete it. I wanted my words out there. But I also wanted them to stay in. The drama, the emotion, the sadness… Too much. It was too much, wasn’t it? I felt foolish, emotional, needy, dramatic.
But part of me was lighter, relieved, and hopeful, too. The words I had been carrying we’re heavy, and it felt like maybe they were no longer only mine to carry alone.
My mother texted me with the compassion and empathy only a mother can have–a mother whose pain is so much more than mine, so much more life-altering. I’m sorry, she said. It sounds like you are in a terrible flare-up,she said. Please do not worry.
Compassion and love that I needed. Acknowledgement that I needed that yes, this is hard. You are not dramatic.
Another friend texted me that she was so sorry that I even knew how it felt to live in chronic pain. She was there for me if I needed her. She read my words; she felt them. Even in my inability to speak these words aloud to her, she respected the way I expressed myself, and she responded in love. You are strong, she said.
Love I needed. Acknowledgement I needed. I’m strong. I can do this.
I had dinner with another friend–a new one, a woman I want to get to know better. And she said she didn’t know my whole story, that she didn’t need to, but she loved and appreciated who I was and couldn’t wait to get to know me better. I told her the same the best I could with a lump in my throat.
Friendship I needed. Affirmation I needed. You’re worth knowing. You have something good to offer the world. You’re not as terrible as you think. People enjoy your company.
I wonder if I would have heard their words if I had decided to keep my words inside. I wonder how they could have possible known I needed love, support, friendship unless I had told them.
I have to stop expecting that people know what I need while being unwilling to express a need. If I’m going to write about what it means to be vulnerable, I should allow myself to be vulnerable.
To be honest, Nick hadn’t even heard me say anything aloud to him. He read my blog post, and that was the first I he had heard my feelings expressed in any way. He knows I process through writing. He let’s me do that.
He said more words I needed:
First, stop doubting your writing. You’re phenomenal. And second, I knew you were feeling all of this even if you didn’t say it aloud. I just know you.
I am known, and he’s still sticking around. So much breathing room he gives me, and yet he doesn’t push away if I need to cling on tight.
Expressing a need and being open and vulnerable often leaves me somewhere between feeling relieved and feeling foolish. I am so terrified of neediness, of codependency, of weakness and failure, of being misunderstood or discredited somehow, that I tell myself a good friend, a strong person, would just press on and handle things on her own.
But it’s amazing how much easier it is to breathe and be when I let people in once in a while.