I recently listened to a podcast where the woman interviewed discussed her life being turned upside down and the reasons for beginning her blog. She spoke of how she didn't want to be a sentence at coffee and, because she had no control over a health diagnosis for her son, she started writing to control the narrative surrounding them.
I suppose that resonated deeply with me - it's why I want to write here. To control some of my narrative.
Because small children are NOT interested in being controlled. And terminal diseases are definitely not controllable. How I respond to these situations, THAT is controllable. How I share my grief and joy in all of these things, what words I chose to use to describe what is happening, of how my faith is deeper now because of it and why my questions for God are changing, well, that's entirely possible for me to determine and not leave up to anyone else.
I have been following a woman in Calgary (that is the daughter of friends of my parents) on Instagram, where she shares her journey of loss and grief. If you ever wish to be inspired and challenged, you need to follow her. They lost their son to a rare, cruel disease, kind of similar to Multiple System Atrophy (In fact, it has the same initials), and she has become a mover in that city and around the world. She became an activist for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She did what my therapist encouraged when I asked what a person is to do with all the anger that comes with grief. You turn your anger into activism.
This woman, Jessica Janzen/Olstad, is bold and honest and beautiful and loud in all the very best ways when it comes to sharing her loss. She has raised a crapload of money for this cause through fabulous events and fundraisers (and very generous people who give in one way or another of course).
Here's the thing - I am not that kind of woman. I'd love to be. I'd love to be brave and bold and become this incredible activist for cruel diseases and loss and etcetera and etcetera. I wish I was comfortable being in front of people, of being in my own skin some days. I wish I didn't care what others thought of me and I wish so many other almost self-deprecating things that reveal insecurities, which I know prevent me from being loud and confident with my story.
I'm just not that person. Or that person yet.
I am here, writing here for me. Sure, some people will read this. Close friends that have let me cry ugly tears in their presence. Friends that have washed my mountain of dishes for me. Friends that have ignored my mountain of dishes for me. Friends that have given me a hug when I needed it or were okay when I refused to let them give me a hug so I could keep my tears at bay. Friends that tell me I am not alone and that I belong when I feel those fears deeply. Friends that are no longer the friends that share details of our lives regularly, but acquaintances. Friends that only find this space because I (eventually am brave enough to) share this on some social media platform. I know one day people will read this - that my voice will be heard here and that super small-scale audience I might have will be a witness to my eventual activism. And while I am writing this to some unknown audience, I'm writing this for me - the future me who will look back and see how far I've come and how I've processed fears and questions. I'm writing this for the 'now' me mostly. To process all the feelings and thoughts now, so that it becomes a coherent string of words one day when people ask "how's your mom doing?" and legitimately want to know the long answer to that and how I'm doing.
I'm struggling to make sense of how to remain a wallflower and be a bit unnoticeable, while being vocal and honest about my life. Especially in a small town. Because, guaranteed, someone reading this from my little small town just asked themselves which category of friends I had put them in, in the earlier paragraph. And if you know small towns, it's hard to be a tiny bit vocal and remain in the shadows. If you want to stay in the shadows, away from the center of anything, you stay quiet and to yourself. I'm struggling with everything I want to share and the fear of sharing too much, and how that is perceived.
In my little small town in Manitoba, I desire the anonymity that is not possible, especially with a mother suffering from a rare disease, while being grateful for the friendliness of a community where everyone knows everyone.
I want control of my narrative and I want to share but part of me is scared of putting myself out there because there is no control in how someone else receives something or responds. And truthfully, I do care what everyone else might think of me in sharing about vulnerable topics.
I haven't shared this space publicly yet, so this feels a little like dipping my toes in the edge of the water, but it also feels a little like I'm standing on the edge of a pool’s deep end and I'm anxious I’m going to find myself all the way in when I least expect it. Lord, help me when that shove comes.