I’m not saying everyone needs to be blogging …. not necessarily. Not exactly.
What I know for sure— after being on this love journey of mine for the last eight months, after ninety-nine published blog posts here at OBM, after getting to know myself more deeply— is, everyone has stories to tell. And whether we choose to tell the stories to ourselves or we choose to tell the stories to someone else, it doesn’t matter, just so long as the stories get told while we’re still here on the planet.
This morning after I shared a story about myself, one that I had never told, Hubby marveled about how many stories I seem to have. My response to Hubby is what I am saying here. I don’t have any more stories inside of me than the next person. We all have stories. The question is, once our lived experiences are behind us, where do the stories go?
We swallow our stories. They get lost under the ever-growing clutter of our minds and then eventually, with the exception of a select few, we forget about most of the stories we have lived. Society, with its cacophony of noise and distractions, steps forward, often uninvited, into our daily lives and is happy to charm us away from our stories, away from the uniquely brilliant way we once took in our experiences.
I used to think the allure of the world’s social mores— the way trends and traditions seemed to merely unfold, taking me in and carrying me along like a dandelion on the wind, I used to think it was nothing but an innocent seduction. Not so. I can now see the machinations for exactly what they are, the smoking mirrors, the need to keep me engaged, the need to keep me full with over-consumption of content and busyness, consequently, keeping me full with frequent angst.
All the world is a stage, was a phrase coined by William Shakespeare in the 1500s, a phrase I did not properly appreciate or understand for much of my life until now. I would also add, all the world is a circus: wild, ingenious, gorgeous, fantastic, tragic, fabulous and mortifying. These stage acts, they are the seasons of all our lives.
Writing here on this blog has unearthed my once dormant sagacity. Oh yes, it certainly did.
I used to believe I was as dumb as a bag of rocks. I kid you not. I held private thoughts of being the stupidest person in a given room. I pretended to know more than I actually knew.
Like the chicken or the egg story, I have never been sure if it was lack of confidence or feelings of unintelligence that stymied me so early on in life. Whatever it was that held me back, I used bravado to cover it up. In my younger days, being from Brooklyn and all, I quickly employed bravado to speak loudly among friends, to crack wise alongside them, as we bested each other with raucous, inappropriate (and ignorant) jokes.
I have hollered, Hold me back!, just like Fred Sanford, knowing the last thing I wanted to do was fight. But if it came down to it, I also fought, threw up fists when I needed to, if only to let others know. We were inner-city, it was just the way we rolled, a reliable way to hide ignorance. Bravado was alive and well in those days.
And yet, long after that kind of living was over, after I entered the work world, and began stringing more and more days together as a REAL LIVE grownup, the belief that I was stupid clung to me. Even as I wrote well, despite my known knack for written language, I could not believe in my own intelligence. You can hear it for yourself in the earlier episodes of my podcast.
I forced myself repeatedly to face the podcast mike and SPEAK, GODDAMN YOU! SPEAK, MARIA! Why? Because of this blog that’s why. Because of what it taught me, because of what writing here revealed to me that the world had deliberately been hiding in its insatiable need to control people like me. Forcing me into woman roles, black people roles, mother roles, bad credit people roles, damaged goods people roles, good girl roles, you-name-it-I-played-it-roles, until I was utterly lost to myself.
In the uncertainty of who thought I was I became hesitant and so apologetic that I basically prostrated myself in situations, genuflecting to those whom I thought were the authorities on everything. Doctors. Lawyers. Church people. Airline pilots. CEOs. Bosses. Managers. Co-workers. Flight attendants. The teachers in my children’s schools. White people. Black people. Every fuckin body, I thought they were all better than me. I thought my shitty earlier life made this so and then on top of that, I thought I was stupid, and when I combined damaged goods with dumb as a bag of rocks, I struggled to interact with people without comparison crushing my fuckin soul.
People who’ve known me couldn’t tell because I was a hide-in-plain-sight master, a chameleon and a shape-shifter, but every single time I opened my mouth an internal battle raged within. You sound awful! Oh god, please shut up! You’re an idiot! Stop talking! They can hear you! Stop fuckin talking! Now, look at you. Now, they know how dumb you truly are. You just had to open your mouth and now, they know. What an idiot.
But then this blog happened. You can see for yourself, if you go back to those first few posts, I didn’t know where the blog was leading me. I just knew it felt as if I had already blogged about every other Roman thing under the sun, doing as the Romans did because I lived in fuckin Rome– politics (rolling my eyes severely on that one, don’t even get me started, as a matter of fact, STFU cuz I don’t want to hear it. seriously, shut up), television shows, food, holidays, pop culture, books, sewing, alcoholism. Verbal vomit about things I pretended to care about because society made them feel so urgent. Not that each of those things didn’t hold a modicum of importance at some point in my life, they did. But not enough to keep writing about any of them indefinitely. Not enough to remain lost to myself.
With the writing of this blog a new dawning began to unfold in my thinking. The dawning said, Wait …. wait a minute, I KNOW you ….. I know you, Self and I used to really love you. What happened to us? Where’d you go?
The world. The world happened.
As I am fairly certain, you can see for yourself, I am not dumb at all. I am actually pretty smart. A genius, frankly. But I wasn’t supposed to know this. I am like Cinderella, waking up to her potential except, fuck the prince. The prince is a turd, I never really needed him.
[Not you, of course or the beautiful and real men of our lives. I’m talking about the imaginary hero conjured by the establishment. That douchey moron, yeah him. A lot of us girls followed the idea of him around for far too long.]
At the end of every podcast episode I always say these words: You have a unique outlook and experiences which the world is needing from you and only YOU. I say this because of what I learned about myself along this creative journey. I know the lowly, rock-bottom self-esteem place from which I have emerged. I know what it is to feel so unworthy you either shrink or let bravado turn you into an asshole at different turns through life. I know the world is brimming over with people who are a lot like me, people who lost years and decades believing the hype about what they lacked, thinking they were never enough.
I get it, we are all in the same boat. And I know wiser women and wiser men than I have gone out into this world, heralding the news of human potential, long before me, spreading their love and their light. And yet, this message continues to get lost in the shuffle of busy lives. The frequent lostness of this message is not happenstance, it is deliberate. So we have got to keep standing tall on our little corner of the stage, no matter how tiny the platform, and shouting this message: YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH, YOU ARE BRILLIANT!
If you haven’t already done so or if you haven’t done it in a while, start recalling your stories, write them down and/or talk them through with yourself (through journaling, audio or written) or with your loved ones.
We get this one lifetime that we know of. Why cede it to the ringmaster? Why indeed! Unknown journeys within await us even as we sit here gazing at each other. You matter. Your life matters. Your story matters. Don’t die with your song locked inside. Connect the dots of your life, see where life has led you, and discover the unfaltering brilliance of the truer versions of YOU.
I love you, my friend. Keep shining.