15 September 2006

Living and Dying

The dear and beloved Kvetch has this post up today about keeping quiet. It made my ears perk up, because this is a subject I have been thinking about lately myself.

I am a keeper-quieter, mostly. (There are people right now who are laughing at that statement, given how many protests I have marched in and how many city council meetings I have spoken before. I guess I have to clarify: I tend to keep quiet in personal relationships).

I hate to hurt people, to call them on their bullshit, or to cause controversy. I would rather just let people walk on me than to confront them about anything.

I remember a while ago on one of MTV's Real-something shows, the cast was all f***ed up, so they had some kind of intervention that included trust exercises and bonding moments, all facilitated by a scary-cheerful woman. One of the exercises was that they all, as a group, had to pretend they were dying, except one person, whom they conveyed their most important messages to. And they had to select that person by telling everyone else "You die," and only one person "You live."

The facilitator said that when we withold our truth from people, we are telling them "You die."

At first I thought this was BS, a buncha new-agey hoo-hah. But it stuck with me for some reason. I guess the reason is that it is really true.

When we hide our true selves from the people who are important to us, we are saying "You don't get all of me. You only get the edited version. I don't think you deserve or can handle the real me." And we kill of a little of our relationship with them.

Believe me, I am the Queen of the Edited Version. I think if people in one part of my life described me to people in another, the two groups wouldn't think they were talking about the same person.

I am forever getting gifts that are totally generic or inappropriate and I know why. It is because I show so little of myself to so many people that they have no idea who I am, what I want, or what makes me happy. I spend all my time trying to not offend them, to make them not worry about me, or to make them happy, that they never get to know me.

I'm getting better as I get older and wiser. For instance, at BlogHer I was pretty much in line with the person I feel like I am inside.

There are other places where I still have a hard time, like with my parents. I hide so much from them because I feel like they can't handle the truth. I want to protect them from the full brunt of Tropical Storm Suebob. I hate worrying them.

I used to work with this fabulous woman, Amy. She was her true self, all the time. Take it or leave it. She said whatever the hell popped into her head. She had people who couldn't stand her because of it, but I was one of her true fans. I looked at her like an amazing statue or a bird with fabulous plumage - magnificent creation!

That's what I want to grow up to be like. My own true self. I think that's the best I can hope for.

Update from the Being Who You Are Front: Our grocery store got remodeled and one of the new "features" is security cameras with monitors hanging above every third aisle. So who am I? I am the kind of person who hears a good song on the PA system, sees herself on a security monitor, and starts to dance.

The great part is that people from adjacent aisles can see the monitor, but by the time they come around the corner to peek at the freak, I have already gone back to looking like I am seriously inspecting the dental floss. Good fun.

Please stop by Linkateria today. The last video is especially marvelous.


Clampett said...

Damn, ain't that the truth.

"I would rather just let people walk on me than to confront them about anything."

I hope you were not serious about that.

If those people truly accept/respect you, they will welcome you as you are.


Jane said...

Wow, what a lot of food for thought! I find myself seesawing between being myself and holding back - particularly at work, but at home as well. I think I'm leaning more toward "here I am, like it or not" these days and I hope that trend continues.

gandhi rules said...

Bob- I really love this post. I love you for the reveal. You are all the more endearing and beautiful to me. And despite living far from each other and maybe getting a little bit of an edited version of you, I know I can buy gifts that would fit you cause, although we're old friends, you're my family too. And not in the mom and dad way.

super des said...

I think you should run the risk of being labeled "bitch" (as any woman that speaks her mind clearly is) and just start saying things that pop into your head. You also might be labeled as "crazy." Either way, it's a lot more fun.

Amanda said...

I have the opposite problem - I need to reign myself in a bit more. I'm TOO me much of the time, especially in relationships and I'm sure my family wishes I'd shut my piehole a little more often.

stampydurst said...

Tropical Storm SueBob - You rock. If you were yourself at BlogHer (which I certainly hope you were as we enjoyed the shit out of your company), then keep it up. You have a long way to go before anyone should be offended. I, on the other hand, only self edit in print. Am thinking of taking the gloves off soon...then watch out. So if anyone calls you a bitch, just refer them to me. Hey, any chance of a roadtrip to San Diego anytime soon? Or maybe we can arrange a blogger mini-meet in LA.

SUEB0B said...

Gandhi - you are one of about 3 people I feel like my absolute whole self around. That is such a great gift to me.

Kvetch said...

Great post. I am going to think about how many people I am my whole true self with. The answer is, just a few...and not the people one would expect. I do edit things out of my being for the benefit of others and myself. That's a great way to look at it. And although it's not ideal, in a way, it's the only way. I'm glad that what I said on my blog struck a chord. That's what I'm here for! :-)

in2deep said...

i loved your post. it was my first time visiting, and your post was thought provoking.
good work:)

Janet Evening said...

Shining armour?

SUEB0B said...

Clampett - thanks for stopping by. Your blog is quite the wild assortment of photos...

Jane - Yes, work is hard. If I acted like my whole self, I would probably get fired.

Super Des - oh yeah, baby, I'm sure I've been called a bitch maaaaany times. Maybe I should try for a record, though.

Amanda - you seemed so polite and reserved when I met you. Then you asked to photograph my boobs LOL.

Stampy - YES, a meetup in south LA or even San Diego, yes, yes, yes. I would love to hang with you when you aren't busy flying around and making the world a better place.

Kvetch - Thanks again for the inspiration.

In2 - thanks for coming by.

Janet - is that Armour as in the ham?

super des said...

ok, after that update, you are deinitely in the "crazy" files. I'm right there with you though, and we love it.

Anonymous said...

Love the update. That is one fun thing about being a mommy. You can sing and dance as much as you want in stores... and blame it ALL on the fact you were trying to entertain your children.

It might not work once they hit middle school though... then they will have "that mom."

Chantal said...

I've made quite a few new friends lately and I have really tried to be just me. I've made a conscious effort to say what I feel, say no when I feel I should and call people on things that might have hurt me. It's very freeing!

Her Bad Mother said...

It may surprise you to hear this, but I'm keep-quiet sort of person. Except in writing. Which is why I love writing.

Lisa said...

You've given me alot to think about there. I'd never considered it that way. I think I, at times, edit myself because I'm scared people won't like me.

This is a great post. And that part where you dance in the store but then act like you didn't? That makes me like you even more!

annelynn said...

Hi there... man, this hits home. As others above have already said - much food for thought here. Thank you.

I too love you even more what with the secret dancing in the aisles... even better that you end your number with serious regard to the dental floss.

Michele said...

Great post - so much to think about.

I was always a keep-quiet until I became a mother. That kick-started my ability to speak up and sound off - FOR MYSELF. I was always good at doing it on behalf of others.

mothergoosemouse said...

Thanks for the link to Kvetch's post - it was a good one, and so's yours.

As you know from reading me, there's lots of instances where I feel apprehensive about showing my real self for fear of alienating one group or another. I'm still trying to work out of that, because it's thoroughly unproductive. Why would I want to have friends who would drop me on my head over a simple difference of opinion?

Beats me, but dammit, I still like to be liked.

Lady M said...

Great post. I ran int an old friend at a party a few weeks ago who I hadn't seen in years. In response to "how are you," most people just say, "fine," especially if you're not particularly close. She opened a window onto her life, how she was feeling about her very existence and experiences. It was a little startling, but refreshing to be reminded that sometimes it's really nice to share and *be* with people.

sheryl said...

This post was very poignant for me too.

I do generally express myself pretty freely and I also feel a responsibility for letting people know where I am coming from - as a matter of personal honesty. (I grew up with many poor communicators as role models and found it scary and frustrating).

Although there were times when I was very shy and afraid to speak. Like when I was an adolescent and I had to count to one thousand to work up the courage to tel my foster parents I needed to go to the doctor.

And I lost the ability to feel or know what some of my feelings were, but I worked around that. I have a hard time feeling angry with the people I care about, so I tend to just get angry VERY rarely. Instead, I will go out of my way to find out how they are feeling in an effort to open communication up.

Recently I lost my best friend, or I think I lost her but I don't know because she won't speak to me. Someone I saw just about every day for seven years. Someone who made me handmade gifts at Christmas and Valentines day, someone who, when I introduced her to people, I added "I'll know her and love her for all of my life."

She was angry with me for a long time and I didn't know it. When she finally told me it was in a differnet context, and she was so resentful and contemptuous that she couldn't even "talk straight" to me. She had already gone through it in her mind for so long that she had honestly invented a bunch of things, including defining my intentions and feelings. She told me how I felt and why I did things in angry sarcastic words.

Ok, I guess my point is, when you (the generic "you") do the things that make you feel like a doormat, you are no longer participating.

When you stop talking, I think in order to protect yourself, you also stop *really* listening. What you hear is not a conversation anymore. You hear the internal dialog, the recriminations, the comebacks, the self pleading. Eventually all of that internal conflict can nullify any connection that was there and make you feel more alone than ever.

I really miss my best friend.

SUEB0B said...

Thank you, everyone.

Sheryl - I'm so sorry about your friend.

gandhi rules said...

Bob-I'm honored

Dawn said...

This was so beautiful ...and so true Sue.

You know, I often imagine all the time and energy I could have saved had I not been so pre-occupied with how others would precieve me..and if that perception would be acceptable to them...

I ofetn wish I was this smart when I was skinny and my boobs were perkier....

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