I’m an inherently honest person. To many people, I’m likely too honest. I’m the one in the room saying the things, coaxing out the elephant, acknowledging reality if someone must do it. I’m the one posting on social media about being admitted into the psych ward or that my house has a gross fly infestation.
You might think honesty is a static, concrete thing one can count on. I’m here to say–even for the painfully honest–it’s not. It is many things, but reliable is not one of them. There are parts of being so honest that are easy to recite as universal truths: it’s vulnerable as hell, it’s scary as fuck, it takes an incredible toll, it’s isolating, and it brings people together. These are truths for me each time I’m incredibly honest, be it with my therapist, in my marriage, within a friendship, in the workplace or, yes, on social media.
What I want to talk about today are the times I’m not honest. The spaces in-between the candidness and it’s subsequent vulnerability. I’ve noticed there are these times when I will get quiet. When I lose the words I feel obligated to say and, if I’m in-tune with myself, realize I don’t actually want to say them at all. I know I’ll be ready someday, but I’m not ready now. What is it about these times? What do they have in common?
I recently finished reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr. In it she describes Leaping as a life tactic to take one from being stuck in perpetual preparation for greatness and instead taking immediate strides towards significant, often long-held and close to the heart, goals in one’s life. I recognize leaping as something I’ve recently, somewhat innately, learned to do in my life as I focus on creating more space for intuition and bravery, less for fear and longing.
When I leap I tend to do one of two things: tell as many people as possible right away (Oh Facebook, you are so good for this) or tell no one. I’ve come to recognize that I’m most comfortable with after-the-fact honesty. It’s still vulnerable and brings tons of personal shit up, but it’s cleaner, safer, and usually slightly more socially acceptable. It’s mostly wrapped up and therefore packageable. Sometimes it’s even a little bit of a one-upper. Like, you thought everything was just swimming along? Nope, I was actually doing this lately! Or battling that! Ha?
I’m not a liar. Even if I recently published an article declaring I was living a lie. I’m not a liar, but I do get quiet. I get quiet for appropriateness, for necessity, and out of fear. Sometimes in those times of quietness I begin to lie by omission. I lied by omission about relapsing into my eating disorder for four years. No one ever directly asked me, and I never could find the courage and words to say. I lie by omission when I knee-jerk respond that “I’m good”, or “doing well” or “fine” when the actual current state of my life is anything but. I lie by omission when I portray a highlight reel of my life without including the painful parts, ugly underbelly, and/or often agonizing opportunities for growth.
What I consider a form of lying, you may not agree with. That is okay. I know that I am an exceptionally honest breed in this world and these are the standards to which I hold myself.
That is why the silence when I leap troubles me. It sticks in the back of my mind like an unbudging to-do. I need to say something. I need to dispel the fear around this by bringing people in with me. And, perhaps most consuming, I need to be authentic. Right now.
It’s the eternal step before the ever-after. Saying something. Speaking.
I recently took a large leap that might not even be considered a proper leap, but stay with me.
I went off my bipolar meds.
I haven’t even talked much publicly about being bipolar, about carrying this label that I don’t fully resonate with, but definitely have been experiencing the daily realities of for the past year. I’ve talked a bit about cycling through manic and depressive states. I talked about life on serious psychiatric medication and the side effects, pharmacy runs, and astronomical costs that go along with. I talked briefly about the month I went off of Lithium and quickly re-experienced intense suicidality and self-harming urges signalling that drug as an important part of my daily regimen. Oh April, weren’t you cute and annoyingly indicative.
And yet, here I am. Almost two weeks off Vraylar, the new miracle drug that replaced both my anti-psychotic (Latuda) and the oh-so-important Lithium. Here I am, remembering the nine years I managed life without pharmaceuticals. Here I am, alternately filled with trepidation and excitement. Here I am, being so honest it hurts.
Right in the middle of the leap.
Right when I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. Right in the space where it’s hard to speak.
I’m speaking. I don’t have anything to hide. I haven’t done anything wrong. I want nothing but the best for myself and my family.
And, I need. I need support now as much as ever. I need to be seen more fully and perhaps even understood. I need to break the silence while things are good and hopeful and I am strong and sure, because that may not continue to be the case. A scary fucking reality if there ever was one. My current reality.
I’m trying to practice being more honest and authentic in my life as a whole. What I find from this exercise is an emphasis on the times when that is not possible. And there are many. It took me over a week to screw up the courage to tell anyone in my real life I’d stopped taking those little blue-white pills. More often than you would think there are things I desperately want to tell my husband (or family, or friends, or…) that I can’t find the words or the space or the starting spot for. And so, silence. And so, distance. And so, pain. I don’t expect this to necessarily go away some day. But I do expect myself to take tangible steps toward lessening it.
Like this one.