Even Though Nobody’s Looking

3 06 2010

“And they rise in the morning
And they sleep in the dark
And even though nobody’s looking
She’s falling apart.”
– Lisa Loeb

There are so many things I don’t say.

Some are best left unsaid:

You kind of annoy me.
I really don’t like that shirt.

Some are things that I should address, but they aren’t life-altering:

I don’t really want to say the prayer at church today.
Even though I’m available, I don’t want to cover your shift.

Many of them are things I can’t bring myself to say:

I think you’re amazing and would really like to be your friend. Please come talk to me, because I’m terrified to reach out to you.
I’m so sad I can barely breathe.

And then there’s the big one:

Please help me.
Please.

As I type this, I realize what an egocentric view of the world I have. I don’t ask for help, but I expect people to know how very badly I need it, and I feel so let down when nobody comes to my rescue.

Sometimes I want to be rescued. I’m not sure I can do this by myself.

The most frightening thing in my life is making myself vulnerable to other people. I’m ashamed to say that this holds true for every single person I know–even my family and friends. Vulnerability is weakness, and weakness is always punished, so I opt for the alternative. I put on a happy face (at least the happiest I can manage) and I pretend I’m fine. I take all those unspoken things and I bury them deep and cover them with much less important things, so I can almost pretend they aren’t even there.

They don’t go away.

I stop talking to people–especially the people who can and will help me. If I don’t talk at all, the unspoken can’t claw its way out and I am strong. My peers are amazed by how calm and collected I am, and part of me dies. Piece by piece, it withers away, and it’s not a painless death. It is slow and agonizing and I feel every second of loss. Still, I smile and wave and chat with my friends. I feed and dress my children. I go on play dates and attend church and lead the music. I go to work and I’m helpful, cheerful and efficient.

It hurts so very much. It is almost more than I can bear.

But I do bear it, and I wear my martyr badge close to my heart, where nobody can see it. “Nobody understands,” I tell myself. “They have no idea how I feel.”

How could they possibly know when I never tell them?

Two nights ago I made a (in my mind) valiant attempt. “Honey,” I said to my husband when I finally made it to bed at 3 am, “I’m very sad.” “I’m sorry,” he said. “What can I do to help?” Save me. Talk me off the ledge, because I’m so dangerously unstable that I don’t know what I might do. “Nothing. I just thought you should know.”

Today was a bad day. (Bet you couldn’t guess that, huh?) I will forever be grateful for a friend who talked me off the ledge. I don’t know if she even realized it at first, but tonight she rescued me.

Guess what? It wasn’t so bad. I might just try it again some time. I pray I can try it again before I break into pieces.

Something I don’t want to leave unspoken: I love you guys. I love that you take the time to read my blog and sometimes even comment on it. I love that you don’t mind if I take a break from the funny and throw in a supremely depressing post every now and then. I love that I can strip myself to the bone and still sincerely believe that you’ll stay my friend.

Maybe someday I can actually do it in person. Wouldn’t that be something?

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12 responses

5 06 2010
Andrea

Hey, just stopped by from MMB. I know exactly how you feel. It’s so hard to say what I really feel…especially if I don’t know how they’ll react or if they’ll even believe me. I think you’re very brave for posting this. It gives me hope that maybe I’ll be brave enough to blog about it too, someday.

5 06 2010
chelsea

Jenny, you’re the strongest woman I know..and reading your blog and seeing you admit a weakness/issue makes me realize that you are even stronger than I thought you to be! What an inspiration you are to me!
You already know how damn genius I think you are!! Oh and I am awaiting another post about your pet peeves @ work~!!! My faves to read! 😉
Love your guts woman!

5 06 2010
Melissa Badertscher

Jenny, I love you too. You are right, we all go through this. I, myself, do. You are a strong woman and loved by many.

5 06 2010
Cecily

I read the most recent post first, and then had to go back in virtual time and read here. I’m sorry. I think that one of the difficulties of being a Mormon woman is that it seems we are expected to be perfect on the outside–we can take care of children, husband, calling, work, friends, neighbors, sharing the gospel, gardening, being frugal, everything, and sometimes (sometimes often) we need someone to take care of us. Those friends and husbands who talk us down from ledges or out of dark caves save us in the same way we hopefully save them. But it is hard to let people know when you need saving.

In my case, I’m still new enough here that I want people to want to be my friend, I worry that if they see me needing, they will decide that I’m too much work and I’ll remain alone. This led to me trying to deal with mild postpartum on my own. It didn’t work so well. (And why do I modify my experience with “mild”? Just because it wasn’t as severe as my sister’s doesn’t mean that I wasn’t hurting inside. Just another example of me trying to mediate my experience so that others want to be around me.)

So, thank you for sharing. For reminding those of us out in the blogosphere how important it is to be there and to be honest to ourselves and others.

5 06 2010
Mimi

I was just telling Nick the other day that, despite being on meds, I feel very sad. While I have not been through the same things you have, I think I understand how you’re feeling. You, Rachel, and I should go out and do something fun without our chilluns… I think that would be awesome! Jenny, my love, I love you and hope that when you’re feeling this way that you’ll remember me doing a horsie-ride on your back!! Ha ha, you see what I did there?? You thought I was going to say something extra meaningful and tender, but I just gave you a horrible (yet hopefully funny) image in your head. You’re welcome, Jenny!

But seriously, I do love you… call me or send me silly texts! Muah!

4 06 2010
Judi

Jenny~this post hit my heart! It is something that I need to wirte on my blog because I feel the exact same and so the exact same things too!
Please Please know that even though we have just met, I am here for you!
♥♥♥♥
p.s. it must be something in the air because I am not coping with life well at all reight now either!

4 06 2010
rachel

i love you jenny!!! you are my bustier half. love love love! come play, and cry if you need to. i ended that sentence with a preposition. take that, word press.

4 06 2010
Kristina P.

Oh, and we should go to lunch.

4 06 2010
Kristina P.

Jenny, I’ve actually been thinking about you this week. I saw your comment on Heather of the EO’s blog, and I wanted you to know that *I* need your voice in blog land. You are able to talk about these hard issues that others are struggling with and need to hear too.

Please email me or message me anytime. And I will be better at checking in.

4 06 2010
Sharyn

Wish I could reach out and give you a big hug!
I’m still working on being genuine and honest with my husband.
My therapist asked how I can expect him to cherish my feelings if I don’t share them with him?
I’m still trying to find the right balance so he’s not overwhelmed by them and can truly respect them.
Virtual hugs to you from LA!

4 06 2010
Sue

I was wondering just last night if with everything that I have endured in my life, would I be safe in thinking I would have snapped by now or am I just kidding myself because how would I recognize what would be my breaking point? I used to sit and cry almost as silently as I could at night praying someone would hear me and have myself almost to the point of hysterics and then just stop, start calming down and attempt to go to bed after tiring myself out from the constant nose wiping that follows a heavy cry. Laying in bed with my head throbbing and my nasal passages plugged to the hilt, I would tell myself what I had just done was silly but I truly believe that they were necessary crying jags to relieve the pressure I was building inside. I can connect with what you say and laugh when the inner teenage girl in me says with excitement, “ya me too!”, for finding a friend with something in common. When I had no one to talk to, I would journal. You have a wonderful outlet here to journal your thoughts and get feedback and support. The virtual hugs are great, also. <<>>

4 06 2010
Kristin

I have felt excatly the same way, I had to have counceling. I still have bad days, but I can actually say after several years of tough times I am finally happy;
they do get better. It takes time, help from the Lord and your family. The last thing I wanted was people in my home trying to help me when they didn’t understand.
Happiness does return, I enjoy your post because I can relate, you make me smile because I still have those days. You are not alone, we are never tested beyond what we can bear. I know this and can testify to this. I am being tested right now, and am learning from it, I am not sure what, but I know I will learn something powerful.

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