(Bee leaving glory having tasted its sweetness)
Sometimes, I’m not so sure I was meant to be a blogger. For one thing, I’m actually rather quiet and not much of a talker, though my sometimes lengthy posts may seem to contradict that. For another, almost every time I write a post, when it comes time to click the “Publish” button, I get downright queasy, and when I do finally click it, sometimes I feel like throwing up. Then there are those frequent dreams I’ve had since I started blogging about being in a crowd and looking down and realizing I have no clothes on.
Okay, maybe you don’t feel that way—maybe it’s just me, neurotic, quivering jelly mass of insecurities that I am. But most times, after I post a piece, I do experience a sort of blogger’s remorse—especially when that post is very personal and revealing.
And so it was last week when I clicked “Publish” on the post, “Wayfaring Strangers.” Perhaps you read it in the two days it was up. If you didn’t, let me summarize for you. Pretty much, I talked about how Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I have almost despaired of ever finding a church, a spiritual home where we might fit in because we just feel so unlike the rest of the world—almost as though we are from another planet. And I talked about how the many difficulties we’d been through made us feel even more that way, so that we sometimes feel broken and sad. Or as Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man puts it: sometimes we feel like God’s Crash Test Dummies.
So, when I clicked “Publish” on that one, I had something very much like a panic attack. Pounding heart, nausea, light-headedness, and difficulty breathing. I almost deleted it then and there. But I’m trying to learn to trust people again and that means learning to reach out and ask for help and comfort. So, a deep breath and a little pep talk to myself and out my heart flies into the blogosphere.
Red Smith, a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist once said: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” And, of course, this is particularly true when your writing is personal—when you lay your soul bare for all to see. It’s difficult and requires a sort of faith that the world will treat it kindly. And, for me it never gets easier.
But I was more anxious than usual about this one. So a day and a half later, I was grateful for the four comments I’d gotten. But then I looked at my stats, and that was my undoing. That’s when I saw that 162 people had read that post. One-hundred and sixty-two people had read that we felt sad and broken and only four had extended a virtual hand. One-hundred and sixty-two people had read that we often feel alone in this world and one-hundred and fifty-eight seemed to confirm our suspicions.
But this isn’t meant to be a whiny or petulant post about those one-hundred and fifty-eight. What really distresses me and what I’ve thought about most since was my reaction. What I felt was shame. Shame—as though I’d done something wrong in speaking honestly about our pain. In fact, my sense of shame was so intense as to be intolerable. So I did the only thing I could think of to do: I deleted my post.
Why did I feel shame? Why is it so hard to shine a light into the darker places of our spirits? And when we do shine a light there, why is it so painful? Why do we hide so much of ourselves away? Why do we (as Robert Frost wrote in Revelation) “make ourselves a place apart/Behind light words that tease and flout?”
I’m sorry I deleted that post. I wish I had been bolder. I wish I could have realized that the only real shame was that I felt shame at being honest. I wish I had been brave enough to leave that door open to my heart. I wish I had risked making my heart vulnerable for just a little longer.
I do want to thank those who did comment. I’m very grateful. I’ve thought about why more didn’t. Perhaps, as one friend said, “folks just don’t know how to react when confronted with an emotional post.” Or perhaps others were like another friend who read my post but wanted some time to think about her response. I’ve done that before. Whatever the reason, I think what really matters here is that, even though I did delete that post to retreat to a safer place, here I am again opening my heart to the world. Here I am—saying that there is no shame in showing you my pain.
My friend Wesley sent me a lovely quote that she had found on another blog, Pinwheels. It’s from Louise Erdich’s The Painted Drum:
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
So, yes—I am broken. I am hurt. I have been betrayed. And, much too often, death has brushed near. But still, I risk my heart. And still I love. And still I feel. And still I pray that I will always taste the sweetness of even the most bruised of every fallen apple.