The wind is blowing outside and my bamboo chimes are tinkling in the breeze. It is nice and sunny out. But I think rain may be predicted tomorrow. Such a lot of rain!
This morning I was thinking about when I was a child living out in the country. My granny didn’t know how to drive and didn’t own a car. So we either walked into town or we didn’t go.
My best friends were the pets. We had three dogs. Buster, Billy and Betsy. We had a menagerie of cats and chickens.
I suppose having pets for friends is why I grew up to be such an animal lover. Because I never felt anxious around pets like I felt around other children.
I didn’t fear what I said. Most importantly I could be myself.
Even when I started going to school that didn’t change. I tried to blend in and just be invisible.
I even felt that way in college. If a journalism professor called on me, I felt anxiety and feared I would say the wrong thing. I imagine many people feel that way, those who have social anxiety.
But then, low and behold, my feature articles began winning awards. I was shocked because I never entered any writing contests. But one of my professors entered them for me.
When they told me that I won three awards for an article I wrote on incest, I was not only speechless, but afraid.
What more would they ask of me? Would I have to do something out of my comfort zone?
Well, yes of course. When you win awards you generally are in the spotlight for special events. I wished they’d just left me completely out of it. Because being in the spotlight, even for a short time, terrified me.
It’s nice getting noticed, I won’t lie. But it’s one thing to get noticed and it’s another to have your picture taken and put out there and have to stand at a podium in front of so many people and speak. I came to dread all of it.
People expect more of you when awards are handed out. Your time in the limelight means that more is expected of you. Colleges started courting me to apply for an MFA. A prominent newspaper reached out to me.
I was absolutely terrified. So I slunk back into my anonymity the best I could and tried not to get noticed anymore. Times passes and their interest in you does as well. That was more than fine by me.
I don’t regret shying away from all that. It was really not for me. I was divorced and had two young children. So yeah, I guess I used that as an excuse to slide back into my shadow world.
I moved to another state and began sewing and making quilts. That was my comfort zone.
My framed awards are somewhere in my closet. The professors who had such hopes for me are likely deceased.
It took many years after that to find out that Asperger’s Syndrome was probably the reason I could not handle the attention. I forgave myself for letting people down because I didn’t feel comfortable under their gaze of hope.
I began this blog in April 2009. My entries were about gardening for the most part, a bit of decor and my pets.
I was having a terrible time in my marriage. He was not who I thought he was. I wanted out so badly but life with him had put me in a lot of debt. Once he said to me: “I’ll keep you so in debt you’ll never be able to leave.”
And that was about the extent of where I found myself. The attention focused on what they considered my writing talent had long since faded away. Too much time had passed to apply for jobs to newspapers.
My confidence was completely deflated.
So I began writing my thoughts about my real life in a separate folder that I kept unpublished. I used it as a diary where I could place my anxiety and fear of the future. Not to mention the present. My real life.
Then one day I wrote this post (some of you may recall this) with the title Mellow Yellow. I don’t recall what it was about except I love the color yellow. It was mundane and nothing at all to write home about.
Later that day, a Sunday, I began to get lots of emails. I’d been outside in my garden space, a place where I spent most of my time when he was home. I had been away from the computer for hours.
Can you guess what I’m about to tell those of you who don’t remember? It was probably 8 years ago, so those who once knew may have forgotten anyway.
I had accidentally published something instead of Mellow Yellow. Yes, I had published my closest thoughts and secrets.
I recall, after reading a few emails, that I stood up against the wall near my computer and began to cry. And slid down the wall till I was sitting on the floor with my head in my hands.
What, oh what had I done? I thought: the gig is up. No one will want to read my posts now. Not after being so truthful about things women usually kept secret.
The innocuous post titled Mellow Yellow sat in the Draft folder mocking me. I was in shock. There was no way to slide back into the shadows now, to reclaim my anonymity.
I had just told the world what my life was really like. To this day I still cringe when I hear the words Mellow Yellow.
I remember thinking: “I just meant to write about gardening and putting pretty pictures on the wall. And now look what I’d done. Why hadn’t I been more careful?
Well, I’ll just stop writing this blog and time will pass, I thought. People will forget about me.
I don’t have to stand on a dais and talk about myself to a crowd of people dressed in a fancy dress and high heels. But I’ll have to slink back into my shadow world.
But as you know now, after 8 more years of writing this blog, that that didn’t happen. For those of you who don’t know, through a technical glitch I actually lost all of my posts from 2009 through 2013. Gone. Finito.
Maybe subconsciously I wanted all that to go away. Those years of living with a man I came to fear. Never have to face it again.
Although as everyone knows, where you walk, it goes with you. There’s no hiding from it. There’s really no running away from it, because it always follows in your footsteps.
There were a few years of adjustment after I left. Feeling comfortable in my own skin and living by myself. Finding my way.
To my astonishment, after publishing the truth that long ago day, I got lots of emails and feedback. And support.
Oh my, the support of women everywhere. They didn’t abandon me or cast me out for telling the truth. No, instead they embraced me and my story.
I kept writing my posts and in a few years I managed to leave that life behind and find peace.
There’s no discounting the power of women when they choose to stand by you. Through all that support I found acceptance and inclusion. I was not alone because all of you were out there rooting for me.
I can say here and now that had it not been for those other bloggers and you readers who stood by me and raised me out of my funk and encouraged me, I might still be there in my pretty house hiding in the shadows.
I’m not standing on a dais in front of a podium trying to avoid seeing all those faces while thanking those who chose my article, scared half out of my mind.
Instead I’m sitting here with my laptop, Charlie nestled against my legs, saying thanks to all of you.
Thank you for being there when I wanted to crawl under the bed and hide.
And thank you, especially, for not allowing me to do that.