Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On Disclosure

It's been a while, hasn't it? Isn't that just part of the routine now? I post something to this blog, feel immensely satisfied, promise to be back, and then take a leave of absence? That seems to be the cycle. You're all used to it by now; let's just jump in both feet first.

In the wake of my latest post--dated August 1st--I had a conversation with my grandmother about my blog and about disclosure. She, like most of my family, keeps up with these entries. And she, like most of my family (presumably), is uncomfortable with how much information I'm willing to divulge. To her credit, my grandmother is 80 years old; she comes from a different time before IP addresses and before the internet turned any willing person into a published writer. She worries about me and she loves me with an intense vigor. So for all of those reasons, I don't blame her for her concern, but I also don't agree with her. She's of the belief that depression, angst, embarrassment, and heartbreak are all very personal feelings reserved for bedsheets and checks made out to your therapist. It's not normal to be an open book; it's not ladylike to expose your ugly thoughts. And while there's some semblance of sense there, I'm not in the business of being polite here. I'm not concerned with crossing my ankles and keeping my mouth shut when I come to write on this blog. When I come to write, I come with emotional baggage and a lot to say. I apologize if that makes anyone uncomfortable, but I'm not ashamed of myself. I have valid and important things to say and I don't care who knows it. So in the spirit of disclosure (or lack thereof)...

Yesterday I cried in class while introducing myself. Yup, it was the very first day. We were going around the room doing the usual "Hi my name is X, I'm from Y, my major is Z," and I started crying. Not even a casual tear brushed away quickly, but full-on ugly, Kim Kardashian deciding to get a divorce after 72 days, crying. Yeah, I know right? What the hell is wrong with me? But okay, let me back up for a second.

So I had four classes yesterday, the last of those being my Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing class. If you recall, I took the intro nonfiction class last Fall, and I absolutely adored it. Easily my favorite class I've taken so far in my college career. I've shared my work from that class on this blog, so if you've been reading for a while, you definitely have had some insight into why the class was so cathartic for me. I started addressing and working through a lot of problems I've kept locked up in the back of my mind. I wrote candidly and continually about personal demons, and while we're being honest here I'm so proud of myself and the work I produced. That being said though, obviously one semester isn't enough time to fully grow to understand and make sense of everything going on in my life. And I'll be honest, once that class ended, I didn't continue with my progress; I dropped all my hard work right there and walked away, assuming I had made some sort of permanent breakthrough. SHOCKER!! I was wrong.

My professor, who for the record is a saint and an amazing mentor, likes to do introductions in class a little bit differently than most. Not only does she ask students to say their name, major, and hometown, but she also asks everyone to offer up something they care about and something they fear. Because I was in her class last year for the intro course, this wasn't a shock to me; I had done this before. I listened to everyone introducing themselves, while also coming up with a list of things I care about and things I fear in my head. And suddenly, as though a switch had been flipped, I was fighting back tears. To put it bluntly: I was fine until I wasn't. What triggered it, I think, was thinking about what I care about; my mind went immediately to my parents. As an only child who is abnormally close to my family, my mom and stepdad mean the world to me. From that, though, I began to think about my dad, which eventually lead to me thinking about everything I wrote about and all the thought I had put into our relationship last year. Without going into explicit detail, I'm sure those of you who have been reading for a while know where I'm coming from with all of that. So there I was, sitting in the same classroom with the same professor, my mind slipping into the same thoughts I had left unattended for an entire year. I was overcome with a hot, sticky anxiety permeating in a cold chill all over my body. I was blinking back tears fanning myself with my notebook as the circle got dangerously and dangerously closer to my turn to speak. As the classmate to my right finished introducing himself, I knew there was no way I could talk without getting emotional. My vocal chords were considerably enveloped in that nasty, shaky tone that comes with a good breakdown. There was a zero percent chance I could make it through my introduction without crying. And so I did. A lot. I stumbled through my introduction, wiping tears and sniffling, staring pathetically at my classmates and my professor, who were meeting me with a concerned and enthralled gaze. And now that's just another event to catalogue in the library of life experiences.

Obviously of all environments for that little episode to happen in, a creative writing class is best, full of emotional, self-indulgent weirdos like me; with a professor I trust, who vouched for me and explained my emotions for me when I gave her a helpless look, the temperature rising in my cheeks and on the back of my neck. And while I wish that didn't happen, I have to cope with it and move on from here. I won't lie though: I'm embarrassed. And as cliche as this seems, I'm not necessarily embarrassed it happened, but embarrassed because I'm embarrassed. I'm upset with myself for being so mortified, when after all, my tears are totally natural and come from an honest place. But still, I'm thinking back on my disheveled appearance, makeup smeared all over my face and my eyes still leaking, stunned by myself. I honestly had no clue I was still carrying around such a burden. I've been too preoccupied to notice. And while that's enlightening, it's scary and it's daunting and I'm not yet sure how to proceed.

How's that for disclosure? I apologize to anyone who's uncomfortable (no I don't).

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