Openness = vulnerability?

They say that if you want to be an interesting writer, you have to be ready to bare your soul. Forget about hiding in the bushes as usual – no, here above all, you have to write at the most vulnerable level. Visceral rather than cerebral.

This is an almost impossible challenge for me, so it is time to examine my defenses, and try to take them down one by one. On the surface I am willing, but why then is it even hard to find them and begin the work?

I could start with the classic approach of exploring what the worst possible outcome might be in each case. A word immediately comes to mind: Exposed.

Exposure. This could mean so many things: Exposed to my husband, my children, my neighbours. Strangely enough, being exposed to my siblings doesn’t seem so threatening – perhaps because they have always seen me as ‘different’, ‘capable of anything’ – perhaps because we’ve been somewhat mutually exposed in our long lives together.

And what could exposure to my friends or neighbours mean? Yes, this needs closer examination. What could I possibly be afraid of? Is it the old “what would they think of me” issue? Do I even know what they think of me now? And why do I care? What do these relationships mean to me as they stand right now? And then, what exactly would I have to have done, to feel so exposed? Lied and been found out? Discovered in an affair? Been hospitalized for a ‘nervous breakdown’? And what if I stopped caring what anyone thought?

Suppose I stopped caring what my husband thought? My children? Perhaps an escape would be possible. Perhaps a life would still be possible.

When I was young, I escaped reality primarily through books. At the time, however, I believed I was missing out on something. Through most of my adult life, I was chronically searching for ‘people to relate to’, people I had ‘something in common with’. Now I believe this was a passive/depressive emotional state, and what was truly missing was the contentment that comes with creativity and fulfillment. I chronically searched for ‘the answer’ in relationships and places, but I had only to search inside.

There was another side of me – after a broken marriage and a few other trivial adventures: the one who preferred to spend the weekend reading, with the phone off the hook; the one who realized she was content – to her surprise – without even a man in her life; the one who evolved into someone content with who she is and what she does. What a concept.

So much inner life to live, so much to discover – how sad that a lifetime is so short.

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