Uncomfortable honesty

18 Mar

I’ve been really thinking a lot about honesty lately. I know, more thinking…right?

I’ve always considered myself a very honest person, almost to a fault. I have gotten myself into trouble more times than I can count with the things that I’ve said. I’ve noticed that most people saying, “I’m a super honest person” or “I was just being honest” think that that means that you are  automatically right/just for what you are saying. However, I don’t think that is always the case. I think there is a difference between honest and speaking your truth and I’m trying to live my life more in tune with the second. Because there have been many times in my life when I’ve said things that may have been honest, but it didn’t mean they were necessary to say.

If you know me beyond a few blog post here and there,  then you might know that I did not necessarily grow up in the most positive situation. How and why I grew up this way made up a big part of my identity and it took me a long (long) time to see myself as anything other than a victim in my life. This is so cliche to add a lyrical quote to this story, but there is a Mumford & Sons song (Timshel) that says,

And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance”

The first time I heard this song, it literally gave me chills. Have you ever had that happen, when you hear a song and you feel like someone lived the same life as you, or somehow are better able to say what you feel? Anyways, this song totally does that for me. You should listen to it if you have time, its beautiful. I’ve never really written about anything very deep in my few years of blogging, but I’ve come to realize, if I expect to get anything beyond surface level back from this experience, then I should put myself out there beyond surface level. I don’t know if its the pregnancy hormones or maybe the rain but I found myself really feeling a strong tug to be honest and extend a hand out.

Recently, it seems like so many people I love are going through some really hard spots in life, and it breaks my heart. Well, wait, let me explain a little bit of my background, so I actually might start to make more sense. I really don’t want to get into the stories of other people in my family publicly because I don’t feel that is fair to share their truths, but I can tell you what mine are. I grew up in an alcoholic household and a lot of painful things happened. Its important to say that a lot of fun and happy things happened too, but unfortunately sometimes those things get lost when you are hurting.

My father and I no longer have a relationship. I have not seen him since 2007. He was not there to walk me down the aisle, or be a witness to the birth of Jude, or even meet Jude and he doesn’t know that I am pregnant. My father is incarcerated in prison. For so long I felt like his guilt was mine and I went through years of agony over this experience. I felt like no one understood the pain I was/went through and that I was a lost in life. I didn’t think I would ever be able to be happy, get married or start my own family. Mostly because I had convinced myself that I did not deserve to be. Because (in my sick mind) people of my situations were not supposed to be able to move on, live life fully and laugh until your stomach hurts almost daily.

Today I am able to do all of those things. I know (and have known) that having a broken family is not something that is rare. Unfortunately people being estranged from their parents/family happens more often than I like to hear. My heart breaks for anyone who has been or will go through it because it is not easy. I’ve only met a few people whose parent(s) were also were/are incarcerated. It is a weird experience in that, even though I know that having my father out of my life is so much healthier for me and my family, I still worry about him. Prison is not a place where happy/safe things happen and the prison my father is in is considered one of the most “dangerous” ones. So there is a lot of fear and guilt that I held onto and still sometimes I struggle with. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t find myself thinking/worrying about him but I’ve come to realize that the healthier thing to do is to worry about myself, my children and my family. The things my father did to get himself in the position he is in are his own and any guilt/shame established by those actions are his and no longer mine.

The reason I’ve wanted to open up about this experience today is that maybe somewhere out there in the world wide internets there is someone else who has been through something similar, or is just starting to go through it and they feel alone. If this is you, I really hope you will take the time to contact me. I really hope that one day I can use this experience to help someone else get though it and maybe feel a little less sad or scared that day. I didn’t know how to properly process this experience for a long time. I pushed people away, victimized myself further and wrote a lot of angry crap on Myspace. I was so angry and wounded. It seemed like the more angry and hurt I would feel, the less people would respond. I can’t think of a single time during those few years that a single person (beyond family or my (then) boyfriend) called or reached out to me to say, “Hey, this sucks, are you okay?” That is really all I wanted. Sometimes I’d break down and cry or get too drunk and start talking about it and most often people didn’t know what to say. I don’t know that I would know what to say either? That sucks? But if I can offer that “Are you alright?” to anyone, even someone I’ve never met, then I feel like a piece of that hurt would somehow be worth it.

A friend of mine, Bryan, passed away December of 2008 from skin cancer. I remember a conversation I had with him before he passed away and it will always stick with me. He told me about how sick and lonely he felt, and how his friends (even best friends) had started avoiding him, or never asked how he was doing. I tried to offer my sympathy to him and tried to make excuses for his friends, I said, “Maybe they just don’t know how to deal with this?” and he told me, “I don’t know how to deal with dying either but I wish people would just let me be honest. I wish people would just let me say, I’m dying, I’m really scared and I don’t want this to be happening but I can’t because that is too hard for them.” It really taught me a lot because I know I have been guilty of this in the past as well. You run into someone you know is going through something terrible in their life and the awkward and uncomfortable thing is to ask how its going or how they are feeling, so you avoid the topic all together. We put our own awkwardness and discomfort above the ability to reach out to someone and say, “Are you okay?” When you are going through tough trials in life, the little “Are you okays?” mean so much more than we realize. People can’t know how we feel about them unless we tell or show them. I hope that in my life I will be able to do this more for other people and work in their lives in a way that might comfort them in times of despair.

I remember on one particularly horrible day, I got a phone call that a family member was in ICU because they had tried to kill themselves. I was at work. I collapsed at the phone and a co-worker (who I never actually liked and didn’t like me) helped carry me to the back room. She brought me water, she calmed me down, she hugged me and actually drove me where I needed to be because she didn’t want me to get into a car accident. Virtually a stranger to me, she did this not because she and I were friends ( we definitley were NOT) but because it was the right and human thing to do. I still think about that incident all the time. The courage and compassion it took for her to just do the right thing, because it was the right thing to do. I wonder if she thinks about it too. Even though there are so many things about this person I didn’t like, she had the ability and strength to do something I now desire in myself.

This is long, rambly and probably chock full of run on sentences and misspelled words and for that I apologize. You may not even understand my point. So let me be clear, my point is, you are not alone. If you are in a place in your life where you feel like you are undeserving of happiness, love  or encouragement please know that this too shall pass. I may not have walked in your shoes, but every human being understands the basic emotion of pain and can understand how soothing compassion can be to someone in times of desperation. I hope that if this is you, you can find a little bit of peace today in what I’ve shared. Please feel free to contact me fancy.fashion@hotmail.com

Happy Friday. Have an amazing weekend.

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6 Responses to “Uncomfortable honesty”

  1. Krista March 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    You are amazing and I love you

  2. jennabee13 March 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    I shit you not when I tell you I was just listening to this song this morning, waiting for the train and tearing up while I listened. It is a beautiful song. And now whenever I hear it I will think of you.

    Lots of hugs, lady. Lots of courage putting this out there. 🙂

  3. Leanna March 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    That song and this post are equally beautiful. I teared up reading this, and I am so thankful that you posted it. Just this morning I spent time with a former co-worker whose young brother was semi-recently killed by his twin in a gun accident. I thought about asking if she was doing alright, but I shied away because I was too scared that I wouldn’t know how to respond. Next time I see her, I’ll hug her extra long and ask her how she’s really doing. Thanks, Tiffany. You’re amazing. ❤

  4. Alene March 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    This is for you…..love to you 🙂

    Ethel Merman sings “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”
    http://www.youtube.com

  5. lovesazzie March 19, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I’m so proud of you Tiff! I feel an extra bond with you of having a rough childhood and an estranged father. Deciding to put those things aside, stop being a victim, and focusing on your family and your happiness is an incredible step, and is one that many people in our situation never reach. Your healthy perspective is such a blessing to your family, especially your kids. Loveeee youuuuu!

  6. Morgie March 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    You are such an amazing person – and so very brave – to post this. Love you so much lady!

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