I’ve been seeing a counselor once a week for a couple of months now. I can’t even remember why I started going. I think I just wanted someone to talk to. To complain to. To listen to my existential questions and not think I was crazy (although admittedly a counselor might be the first person to think you’re crazy).
And it’s been a bit a of a challenge. She gets the family stuff. The addiction and divorce and dysfunctional nature of my childhood. She understands my frustrations sometimes with being a wife or being a mother. But she’s 70 years old and she doesn’t quite get the blogging thing.
Sometimes I feel like I’m consulting at the same time I’m being counseled.
Tell me more about this blogging thing.
So people actually go to conferences for this stuff?
Do they all sit around and talk about blogging? (laughing)
Yes. Yes, they do, I say in my most deadpan voice.
Slowly, over the months, she’s come to understand a little more about this community and about my online friends and what a rollercoaster this life can be. I wouldn’t trade it though. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I think last weekend couldn’t have made that more evident.
This was my crowning achievement. This was my Academy Award. I got to open the Voices of the Year event with a reading of a blog (vlog?) post I did last year.
My emotions ran the gamut. I was proud but afraid to be happy. I felt undeserving. I felt like I had cheated to get there (I didn’t. There isn’t a way to cheat VOTY that I’ve figured out yet). Then I felt okay. It was a video. I would get on stage, read an intro, roll the clip, and walk off.
But they told me they wanted me to do a live reading of the video. The video that was nothing more than improvisation with the camera rolling. I agonized over not only the reading, but the performance. What if nobody laughed? What if nobody cared? What if it was a bad hair day?
Well, miracle of all miracles, I had a good hair day, liked what I was wearing, overcame the extreme nerves to deliver my reading just the way I wanted to.
For a few minutes, I let myself feel like I did okay. That I did a good job. That people laughed because they thought it was funny instead of out of pity. So I sat down backstage listened to the other readers, pulled out my phone, and peeked at Twitter.
And then I had an unexpected reaction. I cried.
Not big ugly tears and I doubt anyone noticed but my eyes welled up with big tears feeling like I had finally justified my blogging existence. Feeling like I had some sort of validation. But that was only the beginning.
Later in the weekend, I ran into a friend who is going through a really emotionally difficult time. We talked and shared some hugs and as her tears welled up, so did mine. But I kept it together.
A few weeks ago, I confessed to my counselor that I felt like I had a huge wall of emotion trapped inside that i just couldn’t let out. I used to blame it on the medication which, initially at least, dulls your emotions. It keeps you from feeling too much but then sometimes I think we forget how to feel. But this was more than that.
I’ve gotten so good about walling up my emotions. I did it in my childhood as more of a defense mechanism. I’ve done it in my marriage for some of the same reasons. But the wall gets bigger and stronger and then you forget how to break it down.
My counselor and I talked about how I feel self-conscious about my emotions and how I don’t want to be around anyone when the floodgates open. That perhaps I unconsciously perceive it as a sign of weakness. She suggested that I take a drive, maybe commune with nature, and just try to let it all out, however it wants to come out.
Sounded like a good idea at the time and then it seemed silly and I was fine. The emotions had receded and life was back to normal.
Then I went to BlogHer and the wall started to crack but I still kept it together, until the flight home.
After a pretty eventful Sunday spent on my own in the lovely city of Chicago (stories that will definitely emerge later), I found myself sitting at the airport waiting for my 8pm flight. I boarded without issue and decided that I was going to treat myself to a glass of wine on the plane.
I voluntarily squished in a middle seat between a tall guy and an average woman. He read a book the entire time (like one on paper, with binding). She fiddled with everything known to man. It was a snack, her dinner, another snack, some gum, a drink. I quietly read my Kindle and put up a wall.
As we were nearing Baltimore, the captain asked that the flight attendants clean up the cabin a little early as he was expecting some turbulence. Ah, turbulence. Not my friend. I was glad at that point that I had had some wine to calm my nerves. One seatmate was still reading and the fidgety girl had decided to go to sleep.
Then the turbulence hit. It scares me. I think of crashing and dying. I think of never seeing my family again. I gripped the armrests as if they would somehow keep me stable. He read, she slept. We bounced up and down. I gasped, Oh my God, and everyone else carried on with their business.
The tears welled up in my eyes again and this time they kept coming. They dripped down my face even as I told myself to keep it together.
I wasn’t crying for fear of the flight. I was finally having my moment where the wall came down. Even I saw the humor in it.
Oh great, NOW I have my breakthrough? While I’m bouncing up and down on an airplane in the middle of strangers?
I kept it together. I got my bags, I got my car, and I headed home.
Normally preferring silence in the car, I felt the need to blast music. The words to the songs cracked the wall even further and in the safety and solitude of my car, the floodgates opened. I cried tears for the whole of the weekend. I cried for joy and for suicide and for cancer. I cried for my baby boy and for my husband. I cried for me.
And on the way home, the skies opened up. The source of the turbulence finally rained down in a dramatic way. The thunder and lightning was almost shocking and lit up the earth. As I pulled into the driveway, I smiled at the joy of being home and let my tears blend in with the rain. The wall is down for now and I just might keep it that way.