Something intense has popped in me.
Today, I feel perfect peace.
This has been one of the best days I have had in years and years. I don’t even know why. There have been catalysts many and tiny, but each of them would sound like nonsense if I stacked them here and tried to show you.
And it’s time for me to say something.
I’ve not owned myself for a long damn time. I almost backspaced over the expletive, debating professionalism, debating offensiveness, debating the value of edginess.
Weighing. Measuring. Stopping myself.
Well, I’m tired. I’m older than I’ve ever been.
I am not waiting anymore.
There are people in my mind who I choose to let make me refrain from writing. (That sentence was all kinds of backwards. Fuck it, it’s in.) My point is that those people are more present in my head than in my actual life. And I’m the only one putting them there.
I worry all the time. What will Childhood Friend think if I say X? How will it impact Distant Relative’s feelings if I tell that one story, the one whose truth we can never agree on? Will they think less of me? Will I be that One Weird Chick in Town who never hears directly what a fool I look to everyone else? (Am I already, maybe? How would I know?)
In my addled brain – and maybe in a fainter shade, on my Facebook feed –these people are watching. Waiting to be offended. Waiting to make me feel guilty.
I hereby summarily reject that guilt.
I’m not carrying it around anymore. It’s too heavy, and it’s not my damn job to make you comfortable.
If who I am offends you, so be it. That’s fine.
I am tired. It’s past time to let that idea go.
And what’s funny is that I’m fully aware this whole play consists only of my own imaginary cast of characters. The players don’t even know they’re in it. The cousin I always self-edit over will never, ever read this. The childhood friend I once worried the most about? She sees me around town and only says hello if I speak first. If she thinks her presence is unseen, she turns a quick corner. (I’m a writer, dear. I notice things. It’s okay, I’m not mad.)
Do I care about maintaining the status quo, about turning people off?
In real, offline life, I actually do not.
I mean that.
Okay, sure, losing your imaginary allies to reality is not pleasant. I’ll give you that. But it’s not exactly unpleasant, either; it’s only uncomfortable for a second, and then it’s merely… educational.
It truly doesn’t even register in my heart anymore. I don’t take it into myself at a level of “hurt.” I’m not twelve. My in-person skin is pretty damn thick. And so is my writing skin; I am well-versed in handling artistic rejection. A writer has to be.
So why do I care so much online?
Why am I so fucking free in my personal life, legitimately living without a single thought to what people think of me, but then paralyzed when it’s time to put words in a fixed medium and send them out? Isn’t that the whole of what I do?
Why could I tell you something to your face that I am too afraid of judgment to write right here?
I live way out loud, even in a small Southern town that’s much more conservative than I am; but then I don’t want anyone to be offended by my blog posts, so those, I sanitize. There’s a schism there. It doesn’t make any sense.
So, then, here it is. Future reference, y’all.
I write. And I will stop hiding away the hard things.
I am going to write what I remember, what I feel, and what I want. You don’t have to remember, feel, nor want the same things. I will still love you. If you stop loving me, or choose never to start, I set you free in kindness and wish you well.
But prudence is too exhausting.
And I am so tired.
From now on, I’m choosing here as my place to sit. You’re welcome to sit beside me and drink whatever it is you’re drinking; I won’t look in your glass. But I won’t keep you, and I won’t harbor an ounce of malice if you’re not comfortable in chairs like that and find somewhere else to go. Go get your comfort where you can. That’s exactly what you should do.
I’m good right here.
I am not moving, and careful is over.