This has been a funny post to write. There are actually two posts, really. I started writing one, then realised that without the background, it didn’t really make sense, and you perhaps wouldn’t appreciate what I was trying to say. That’s a nice clear introduction, isn’t it?
Something that seems to happen when I blog about personal stuff is that people tell me that I’m brave. As nice as it is to be told that, I respectfully disagree. I’m not brave (I write this under a pen name, remember?). I’m just honest. I’ve reached the point where I feel I can be.
I wish I’d got here sooner. Or rather, I wish I’d returned here sooner. Despite being eaten up by insecurity and lack of confidence all my life, I was also fairly gutsy and gobby until I hit my 20s. I didn’t give a toss what other people thought.
And then, I hit my 20s, I inherited a Serious Career, and became a mother. And everything somehow became dulled. My clothes, my hair, me. Every feeling I had, I muted. Every instinctive reaction I hid. I thought it was because I’d grown up. Instead, I’d grown apart from myself. I didn’t know who I was, so I strived to be liked, to be quiet, passive, pliable. I smiled when people annoyed me. I had unvarying patience with people who wasted my time. When people upset me, I knew that the fault lay with me. When people deliberately hurt me, I wondered what I’d done wrong. I never questioned why they acted the way they did, just accepted that it said something about me.
I retreated, I made myself small, insubstantial, unobtrusive. I was stoical. I closed down. Fear no more the heat o' the sun… I couldn’t. I was obscured by cloud. No one questioned what had happened to the girl with the big boots, big voice, big chip on her shoulder. There were people I saw on a daily basis who knew absolutely nothing about me.
And of course, people saw me as weak. And in the situation I was in, they attacked weakness. Every success I had was belittled or ignored. Slowly, friends were prised away from me. Whispering campaigns. Extra work being piled on. Everything being made just that little bit harder than it needed to be. I can see it now of course, with hindsight. But then I just assumed it was me, my failings, my fault. So I tried to be nicer, to paper over the despair and guilt with a blander smile, to be more accepting, to try to make people like me.
And they saw me as weaker still. And they despised me for it. And stepped up the attacks on me.
I lost all sense of who I was. I didn’t trust myself. I was told that people didn’t like me because they thought that I was false. I was. But only because I didn’t know how to be me.