Out Of The Shadows

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.

32 Comments

  1. I ran across your blog today and felt compelled to write a comment on this article. I can so relate, actually most of my family can relate to hiding in the shadows as we are all very strong introverts. But I especially related to this article in more ways then one. Bad relationships, not wanting attention draw to my talents, and still struggling to find my own happiness and happy peaceful life somewhere.
    My boyfriend of 20 years, who pretty well put me in debt died the other day. A week ago today. I had moved out and am living in a rv at my elderly mothers, while I was getting my thoughts together. So I go back into the relationship, or stay far away I was thinking. Well, his death made that decision for me. Know, after he took most the money from the sale of my home years ago, and all i have left is a rv which is quickly falling apart (as they really are not meant to be lived in long term). and being unemployed , about ready for ssi, I don’t see a lot of hope of ever having a home. I have lots of pets, so renting is out, besides being to expensive for me anyway. I am trying to just take one day at a time and find joy. Today I was thinking of driving and looking for some open space. I love seeing green hills of grass and little farm houses.. but here where Im at, it’s heavy dense forests and very little open land. You can only take so many photo’s of pine tree’s and it get’s kind of boring. Anyway, Loved your story, so glad your sharing on your blog. I hope to visit often. Still looking for my cozy little house, and hope to find it someday. : )

  2. I always look forward to your blogs no matter what the subject. You have a way of bringing us in to your world and making us feel a part of it as if we were there visiting with you.

  3. Brenda,Thank you for sharing your powerful words with us. You have no idea how many women you have helped, me included.

  4. Your errant post changed a lot of lives for a lot of women. That is something to be proud of! All things happen for a reason and you were a catalyst for women to be more honest and open about what goes on behind closed doors! Love and hugs!

  5. All children are victims of the life they are born into..some are more blessed than others. So glad you had your pets for support and comfort to get you through it all. Your sharing whether by accident and/or sometimes willingness has probably helped many folks understand that they or not alone. Thank you. Your writing skills and photography skills are awesome, and I look forward to hearing from you each day. Have a blessed Day.

  6. I actually remember that post. I remember thinking how things are often not what they seem. We may have insecure tendencies but we are survivors. I understand feeling relieved about that history disappearing but it’s sad in a way. It showed a woman painfully deciding to have less materially in order to have so much more. I did the same when I was much younger. It would benefit others seeing it’s ok to let go. Be not afraid.

  7. Thank you for your bravery. It lifts us all up and out from under the bed. When you share you are never alone and neither are we. Thanks for sharing yourself with me.

  8. I remember, too, and reading that post broke my heart. I have felt the sting of betrayal and uncertainty. I live in Longview, and had found your blog because I also garden in east Texas, and I enjoyed seeing your lovely garden and reading your posts. I lost you after that–but was happy to find your Cozy Little House a couple of years later. You’re a survivor, a strong woman, and I’m so glad to “know” you.

  9. Brenda, your blog is the one of quite a few that I read which I come to every single day. I stumbled on it from another blog and am so glad I did. And that you persevered after that fateful day of unburdening yourself in the beginning. I love that you are brave enough to show us real person in your writings and that you let us see your compassion for nature and animals and other people, especially women.

    My only regret is that I can’t walk next door and give you a real hug. Would we be friends in person? I think we might because I am basically an introverted, semi-reclusive person and understand your desire for peace and quiet and simplicity. As it is, I value greatly what I know of you online and look forward every day to reading about what you are thinking and doing in your life. I may never meet you in person but I doubt I will ever forget you.

  10. I remember that post, a long time reader, don’t post often. I start my day in Oz reading your blog and comments, while having my morning cuppa. Have laughed and cried as you let us honestly into your world. I hope you continue to let us into your cozy home for many years to come. Hugs to the three of you.??

  11. Yes, Brenda, I remember it all. I’m glad you accidentally let us in on your real life so you could have the support and encouragement you deserved to have. Well do I remember that post. And in the process, you have encouraged and strengthened many.

  12. Brenda,
    Your writings, sharing your past and where you are today are a
    great encouragement.
    Wth a grateful heart you are one of my guardian angels.
    Always the best to you.

  13. You kept on going, Brenda. You didn’t give up. You did not permanently lay down and curl into a ball and fade away into death. All of these things are great victories. You should be proud of yourself, very proud.

  14. I prefer people and blogs that are honest and down-to-earth. As an introvert (INFJ) and Highly Sensitive Person, I was a lot like you as a child, where I hated to be called on in class or had any attention drawn to me. The only time I remember liking the attention was when my first grade teacher (whom I adored) told me I had sixth grade reading ability – and gave me some kind of award for reading. Then she took me down to the teacher’s lounge where she gave me a dime and I was allowed to put the money in the white soda pop cooler and get a glass bottle of orange soda. I felt so special! But see, that was just the two of us. She didn’t make a big deal in front of the whole class – which would’ve embarrassed me. To this day, I do not like attention drawn to me and public speaking is one of my greatest fears.

  15. This was so beautiful an honest. Thank you, Brenda. I don’t comment often, but I’ve been a long time reader. I enjoy your writing, photography, gardening, and the pets are dessert.

    The flowers with the two tone pink, is it from the geranium family? It is so striking, as well as your capture of it.

  16. From my heart to your heart Brenda,
    you write my story.
    I am 72 w/o those I thought were my best friends
    have not made time for a call, or. text it
    is I have dropped off the earth. I have not & I will
    keep fighting
    I was diagnosed w/Breast cancer.
    Through your writings I understand guardians angels
    are near & far. You are one of my guardian angels.
    Thank you for sharing your cracks in your heart.
    Your posts lifts my spirt. Makes me giggle, and
    gives food for mind and soul.?

  17. I have followed you from very early on in your blogging. Thanks for your honesty and for your life. Sharing our story is so important as women for those who follow us. I belong to a group where sharing your story and experience helps others. It has been my pledge to continue to do so as long as I am able
    Continue to be brave.

  18. Some things are just meant to be. Whether we believe in fate or destiny, it seems there are times when another “force” just takes over and guides our direction. What a bright spot your blog is for so many of us readers. We appreciate your efforts (with words, thoughts, decor, book reviews, gardening, photos, etc) and are grateful that you share your world with us.

    Hope you have a terrific Tuesday.

  19. Wow, imagine where you would be if you didn’t accidentally post the wrong post? The income you made from your blog gave you your independence from your abusive situation – what a blessing that error turned out to be!

  20. Just wanted to say a huge thankyou to you as well,Brenda.
    As a widow with 2 grown kids living with my 2 furbabies,I look forward to your blog posts each day.
    I’m no gardener so your beautiful plants are amazing to me in that you seem to just know what would look best next to another and it all comes together,I feel the same about your lovely little home,you certainly have an eye!
    Being an introvert,sometimes life gets a little lonely and you are a very bright spot in my life, so thankyou too!

    1. Thank you for your honest open approach to life and for sharing it with us all. May we all be stronger and help each other.

  21. Brenda I remember that post so well. When you got back on the computer and realized what you had done, you seemed so mortified at your mistake. I felt really bad for you but at the same time i was blown away by your honesty and fabulous writing skills. I was very impressed that you had the nerve to publish what was in your heart even though you didn’t intend to do that. I was even more impressed that when you realized what you had done you bravely pressed forward. Thank you. You have helped so many women, including me, to move forward and live their lives in a much better place and state of mind. I love reading your blog and look forward to every new post.

  22. I love your blog Brenda. I have followed you for years. I seldom comment, but I certainly ponder upon your thoughts. Many times your words have given me courage and a feeling of acceptance. You are “real”, you are who you are, and you blog about real life. From your decorating, gardening your quirks (and we all have them) to the grief you have felt, the friendships you have made, and the many people you have encouraged to keep moving forward. Thank you.

  23. As I was reading I had the feeling that I was looking in the mirror. From miserable to content. Revenge is the best reward. He’s gone, you’re still here. God bless you.

  24. Brenda, I al so very glad that you did not stop blogging. Your posts are always so thoughtfully and beautifully written. Life is not perfect and even the bloggers and Instagramers that we like and admire who portray a perfect life have had hardships and pain along with all of the beauty. Your honesty and authenticity is one of the reasons that I love your blog and read it daily. Keep it up my friend because your words are a balm to many.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *