The Words in the Closet

I wish that I could be everything to everybody all the time.  It’s really my life’s mission, to be that person who always gets everything right and does all of the things that people need from me.  I am quiet a lot of the time, and as a result of that I absorb a lot of what people around me say.  I take special focus in the things they say to me.  Every detail is important.  

I have trouble a lot of the time describing my feelings because I lack the perfect word.  I have trouble talking because I get too flustered over my need to know just what to say.  I fail all too often.  I can’t describe how badly it hurts.  Not out loud.  Not on my own.  I can’t ask for help.  Not out loud.  Definitely not without prodding.  I have always had trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that people care.  I put all of my energy into my marriage, and he never cared.  I project that on to everyone around me, that idea that I am nothing, that idea that they don’t care.  How could they?  Why would they?  I am not everything to everybody all the time.  As a matter of fact, as hard as I try, I rarely am.  I get my self esteem from my achievements.  When I can’t achieve, when I fail, I lose all of my confidence.  I have so little to begin with.  I let life snatch away what I do have.  

I keep my most important words close to my heart.  I am very careful who I share details with; I am very careful about forming connections.  I am slow to trust, and I am careful to protect myself.  When I do make a connection of any sort, I treasure it.  The idea that someone sees me, really sees me, is such an incredible feeling that I am loathe to let it go.

My greatest fear in life, regarding revealing the more intimate details, is that people will not believe me.  One of my favorite people once told me “I believe you.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.  You’re so amazing, and strong.  And I know that it’s hard and it completely sucks.  But you can get through it, one step at a time.”  These statements are the type of detail that I hold on to, the type of words that can get me through a difficult day.  Because I am amazing, and I am strong.  And I am moving forward.  That’s another quote.  “Continual, forward motion.”  I love quotes.  I post them on Facebook frequently.  I collect them.  Because they mean something.  Words mean something.  They’re powerful, to both the good and the bad.

In my closet resides a shoebox.  More accurately, it’s a boots box.  It’s huge, and it’s filled up with a ton of these things.  When someone tells me something that means a lot, or that I know will be important to me in the future, I write it down and put it in the box.  I have quotes written on looseleaf, quotes written on napkins, quotes written on brochures.  You name it, I’ve probably written on it.  If I get a particularly inspirational letter, message, card, text, et cetera, I print it out and put it in the box.  When someone gives me something that means even a little, I hang on to it.  There are too many days where I forget.  Life is hard, and it’s scary.  When it’s especially messy, when I’m feeling lost, I have my words.  And I remember that I have people in my life who are there.  When I have a bad day, I can pull out the box and flip through the things and remember that people care.  That I have awesome friends.  That I’m loved.

Somedays I just need to hear the words.  To know that sometimes it is okay, and sometimes it isn’t, and that’s it’s perfectly okay to not be okay.  On those days, even the smallest words mean everything.

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2 thoughts on “The Words in the Closet

  1. writingbolt says:

    You’re making me want to cry.

    I too am confident from achievement. But, for so many years, my actions have been deemed “wrong” or in error. And, because I didn’t get it right…because I didn’t satisfy the source…I felt like a failure instead of figuring out how to process the critique and learn from it. Probably because my parents took over everything growing up. If I didn’t cut the grass the…well, read my post “Do It Right or Not at All”.

    You too are a sponge like me. But, I WAS quiet. I continually miss details because my mind hears one bit and runs off with a dozen other thoughts. Words hit me like a baseball, and my thoughts shatter in various directions, framing possibilities in “what if” contexts. I can say plenty. My problem is not finding words. But, in a way like you, I don’t find the concise perfect words. Instead, I find metaphors and, often enough, blue streaks that tune people out after 30 seconds of me ranting.

    I have trouble asking for help, too. I need it. I really need help with so many things. But, I am afraid of being hassled for sounding “childish” or helpless. I hear mixed messages in my head, and most tell me to suck it up and do it myself. But, every time I psyche myself up to do something, I choke and step away from the end of the diving board. And, I know my family is shaking their heads.

    When people say “You should be able to do this with confidence,” I tell them, “If I had some success to go on, I’d do it with confidence. But, until I know it WILL work, I’m not about to assume it will.” I’ve already taken chances on assumptions and failed miserably or hurt myself. I’ve also trusted the words of others and–apparently–done something wrong that created a horrible outcome. I didn’t tell myself I’m going to fail (as I may do nowadays). I had no idea I would fail. I took the leap and lost. I felt like a fool.

    On the other side of the coin, people gave me false confidence. And, by my teens, my family gave me none or took it away. I had no privacy (like you hear teen girls scream on TV sitcoms…except I’m a guy). And, again, I wasn’t doing anything right. And, when I DID think I was doing it right, someone had to slap me an tell me I was wrong. And, when I thought I had done wrong, that’s when the Twilight Zone music kicked in and someone told me I was doing great. It made no sense. I saw a mistake or room for improvement, and someone was telling me I was great. As for the false confidence, growing up, I was told I was smart and talented. Sure, I passed a few tests with flying colors and could draw more than a stick figure. But, looking around, I could easily spot people better than me at both school and art. But, the more people convinced me I was great at both, I believed it. And, eventually, the truth hit me like a bus. Had I remained humble about my smarts and artistic talents, I might have survived the fall better. I might have been prepared.

    You’re not being too careful now, are you?:) You’re opening up here to strangers.

    Women and their quote collecting:P Oy! It’s so easy to get swept up in “affirmations”. You can post posters all over your walls to motivate you. And, hopefully they work. But, if they don’t then you’d better write your own book based upon experience.

    Isn’t that box eventually going to overload? It might be a good idea to turn some of those cards and notes into art you can frame/hang on a wall.

    Now, don’t forget to breathe.

  2. Darcy says:

    Hugs to you. We all struggle with our inner demons, inner nazis, inner judges, negative voices, whatever they may be. I used to suffer the delusion that maybe they’d go away. Now I don’t think they really ever do. But you can weaken them, drown them out. Build up your own inner cheerleading squad and drown them out. That’s the only thing that works. 🙂

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