So should you believe everything you read here? Getting to the real “me” can be tricky.
Someone wrote me recently, commenting on the phenomenon that many writers don’t actually resemble in real life the personae they’ve created in their writing (or in their online presence.) People who seem so saintly are actually kinda mean and petty. People who seem so forthright and opinionated in online forums are actually too shy to ever say what they really mean in real life.
How do you know anyone is who they say they are??
Coincidentally, another friend recently accused me changing a word or two when I quoted him in an article. I lied, he said.
So…Are all writers liars??
My first reaction was, Ruh-ruh. They’re on to me.
I try to be calm and loving and accepting, always looking for the lesson, always looking for the other side of a situation.
But sometimes that all goes out the window when someone cuts me off in traffic, or when somebody gives me attitude. Or when I simply don’t get what I want.
I try to to be cheerful and upbeat, and a good friend.
But sometimes I just want to crawl in a hole and die. Sometimes even my best friends really piss me off. Or worse, are highly annoying.
Much as I pour my heart and soul into these articles, you can’t get around the fact that I write them.
I get to decide what parts I put in and what parts I leave out. I get to frame the problem, and I get to position the answer.
I get to be too hard on myself, and I get to fudge the happy ending.
So who IS the real Luann?
1. Is she the compassionate and wise, thoughtful and kind person some people think she is?
2. Or is she the verbally quick and bright-haired woman who always feels she has to be the smartest and funniest person in the room?
3. Is she the loving mother who will fight fiercely for her children’s right to simply be who they are? The supportive wife who is always there for her husband?
4. Or is she the screaming shrew who actually once yelled at one of them, “If I had a pointy stick, so help me God I’d use it right now!” Or the bickering partner who says, “You know I’m right, so why don’t you save us both some time and just throw in the towel on this argument now?”
5. Is she the writer who publicly shares a struggling, sometimes painful spiritual journey to understand her place in the world, with anyone out there who will listen?
6. Or is she the self-righteous indignant and angry crabby person who still has the self-awareness to laugh when the writer Ann Lamott writes,
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
7. Is she a person with a core of hot truth who examines what role she plays in the sad places of her life, and willingly embrace the lessons she finds there?
8. Or is she the idiot who falls back into the same patterns that didn’t work before, and has to learn those same lessons over and over and over again?
9. Is she the nicest person you ever met?
10. Or is she so empty inside, she still believes that being nice is more important than being honest/whole/self-reliant/herself.
11. Is she brave and fearless in her approach to love, life and art?
12. Or is she hanging on desperately to what she already knows, because anything else is too terrifying to contemplate?
13. Is she an amazing artist whose work with texture, color, mixed media and narrative has resulted in a formidable body of work?
14. Or is she that woman who spent an hour in Home Depot’s paint section, agonizing over what color to paint her bathroom?
15. Is she someone who understands this is her journey in life, accepting it with a whole heart (only having to be dragged kicking and screaming to the next step occasionally), doing the best she can? That it’s not about what others think of us or what we do, we just need to do the right thing?
16. Or is she fearful that others might think she is putting on a pretty good but false persona, too?
a. All the odd-numbered statements.
b. All the even-numbered statements
c. Some of the above.
d. All of the above.
e. None of the above.
If I’m learning anything in this strange journey called life, it’s that we’re all very different, and that has to be honored. And we all have a lot in common. A lot.
We all have our dark side, and our bright side. We all struggle to love and be loved, and by the “right” people, too. We all want to be recognized for the incredible things we do, and we all wish the bad things could go in a closet somewhere, forever.
We all have the “inner work” to do, and most of us will never finish it. In fact, some of us will never even acknowledge there is inner work to do. “Oh, that’s, someone else’s inner work!” they’ll exclaim. (I just corrected a typo here that read “sinner work” & realized, that works, too….)
And they’ll be right, too. (And wrong.)
You see where I’m going with this.
If you met me for the first time, and I were having a good day, you might think I’m delightful and funny. Or you might think I simply talk too much.
If you met me on a bad day, you might think I was thoughtful, a compassionate and ready listener. Or you might think I have a chip on my shoulder the size of a Buick, and I whine too much.
Some people love the fact that three years ago, for the first time in my life, I dyed my hair. A deep, rich, intense auburn color. They think it’s brave and cheeky and fun and artistic. Other people think it’s pathetic that a woman my age is so desperately hanging on to her youth. Who does she think she’s kidding??!
The real me? Your guess is as good as mine. I only know it seems important right now to accept all these things as true. Without judgment or censure. Without pride or smugness.
Because what I do, or what I think, or what I have, or what I choose, are all aspects of myself that could disappear in a heartbeat. What is left then?
And that’s what my journey is about.
Because I think what I’m going to find out is, who I really am–just me–in the end, is something much, much bigger–and much, much simpler–than all of these other things.
And that will be….enough.
Just remember. We’re all in this together, and nobody gets out alive.
p.s. My friend, who has mental illness, objected to my use of the word “crazy” to describe the way he’d “altered” his rented room. So perhaps I should have been more sensitive to his condition and used a less volatile adjective.
On the other hand, the other word he complained about was just way too picky. So I think–you guessed it!–we’re both right.