After hitting "publish" last week on the first installment of my haiku about running away at 16, I felt a sinking feeling and quickly added a "Chicken Shit Disclaimer," because I was afraid of sharing too much, coming off too dramatically and, frankly, losing readers who would think perhaps I'm a little too self-absorbed. I noticed some stopping by and quickly leaving without comment or kind of maybe scaring those who did more than intended, and I let it get to me (funny enough, after some time plenty of excellent comments came rolling in). I started to worry too much "what people will think," so I did the disclaimer and came damn close to pulling the post, even though I both liked what I wrote and also saw it as being relatively tame in the bigger context of my life and who I am today.
Perspective always fascinates me. I experience something one way, absorb and dissolve and come to terms with it in another, share it in bite-sized chunks and then see something else different yet again reflected back from the minds and eyes of my readers (or listeners in the case of real life because this happens there, too). What's funny about this is whole perspective thing is that when something is happening to me, I sometimes get so wrapped up in it as my own brand of normal that I forget how bold something is to someone outside of my mind.
On the one hand, anything happening in my life is "totally different and utterly unique" because it's happening to ME (kind of like the saying about it being a different story when it's your dog lying in the street kind of thing), but on the other hand I experience the opposite, too, and this is the part I find most fascinating. Perhaps because an experience is my own, and I've had years to process it and sort it out within myself, it's not as "scary" or "shocking" as it would be to encounter it for the first time unexpectedly spilling out of someone's lips or keyboard.
A real life case in point. I will never forget a particular conversation on a train ride in Japan with a Canadian friend (the first to tell me of the awesomeness that is Vancouver, BC) in which I was discussing my mom's illness and death just months before. To me, while painful then and even still now, some of the details of what it really means to take care of someone with total paralysis (my wonderful mom had Lou Gehrig's Disease - yuck), such as Mom not being able to wipe away her own tears, for a bold-ish example, were no longer as shocking to me considering the road I'd traveled. So I was explaining some things somewhat matter of factly, and I noticed that my dear-hearted friend was actually crying. I instantly felt horrible and wanted to take back all of my words and crawl into the biggest hole (the trains are not equipped with those, sadly). Seeing my friend reflect back to me my own story through her eyes astounded me and made me realize how even more profoundly sad it all really was, even more than I'd really stopped to consider standing outside of myself in a sense, maybe, if that makes sense.
A similar kind of thing happened here with the first installment of my "runaway haiku." I was kind of taken aback that it came across that scary and dramatic and kind of freaked out seeing it reflected back to me that way (I mean, I thought it was kind of tame compared to plenty of stories), and I started to feel uncomfortable that maybe I had "overshared." I know who it is that I have become as a result of all of this experience, but on the screen it just looks to some like some pretty terrifying event, probably more so from the perspective of a parent.
In the end, I did keep the post up, obviously, and I am glad I did. I also learned a few things in the process.
As much as I pay lip service to the idea of not caring what people think, I let my fear of coming off too dramatic (while actually downplaying the realities, if you'd like the absolute truth) and fear of losing readers start to get to me and almost pulled down the post, even though I was perfectly comfortable with the content itself being publicly known, and that's ridiculous. There are plenty of things I won't share publicly, but it's not like it's some dark secret that I ran away from home almost a hundred years ago or that goofy/sad things happened related to it. I'm totally comfortable with this experience in the context of my life as part of who I am today, and the lesson I needed to learn from this is that it is none of my business whether someone else is or isn't. It's interesting, sure, fascinating, even, to see how people perceive my experiences, but I can't let fear of those perceptions prevent me from writing something that begs to be told and that isn't really a secret and isn't at all harmful to me or to anyone else (those things will always be completely off limits to me out here in the public Onlines).
This is my blog, this is my voice. To those wonderful enough to listen and to hear me even when I'm afraid to "hit go" on a post like that, you are the cherry on top (with sprinkles, too!), and for that, Thank You.
PS - Yes, there will be more installments, possibly as soon as this Friday (no promises), likely to always be in haiku because that medium allows me the ability to tell something sort of difficult in a way that feels right, and I'll "chickenshit disclaim" (new verb?) again right now that it will get a little darker before it gets a little brighter.
PPS -Today is smoke-free day 414, and that also needed to be said by me, for me, with love.