Truth is the force that guides us to where we need to be in life, but love is the power that heals us once we arrive there. — Elizabeth Gilbert
After Elizabeth Gilbert came forward with her truth so openly—that she fell in love with a woman and upon discovering this, she had to follow it to live more authentically, it made me think about my own truth. Usually the things I write are the things I need to hear; when I was writing to the girl who feels broken or when I wrote about healing, that was to me. I'm trying to write myself versions of the truth—my truth.
Over the summer, a friend told me how she sees me. She told me that she admires me for my ability to be vulnerable. It felt wrong to hear because even though I am writing about being vulnerable, I am not exposing everything. I can write about being broken and that I've healed, but I'm still hurting. I'm not someone that has it together. I will continue learning and re-learning the definitions of broken/healed, and I struggle with seeing past those stages. I struggle with the knowledge that being broken and the path to healing might be a lifelong one. I struggle with not just being okay and being myself in whatever form I am in that moment.
And right now, in this very moment, I feel a bit lost.
It's the kind of lost where you're in your own mind more than you should be. The kind of lost where there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is no way to spin this to have a positive outlook. Admitting that alone is terrifying; to tell the internet that you actually aren't someone who has her shit together and is just trying to stay afloat shows weakness, and this girl doesn't show weakness very well.
When I see people who I haven't seen in awhile, the two questions they ask are "What do you plan on doing after school?" and "Do you have a boyfriend?". Those are the things that matter, and when I look to other people at my age (or, even worse, people who are younger than me) who have careers and exciting lives and boyfriends that take them out on dates, I feel behind. I look to other people that have the things that I don't have and I spend time wondering if I'll ever have it, if my hands will ever grasp that feeling of stability, and I hate admitting that. I hate admitting that I am not on the same normal path as other people. I hate admitting that there are things that only a few people know and I have to pretend like things are okay. I hate that those things have prevented me from being on the path that I feel like I should be on. I hate that those two questions are the only two that matter when there are so many other things that are going on. I hate admitting weakness because, in a way, it means showing vulnerability in a way that I've never written about before. I don't have words to dress me up anymore. I am no longer the label I gave myself; I am no longer a Girl Who Writes. When I strip myself away of that title, I am just a girl who has a messy life. A girl who has weaknesses. A girl that is not where other people are. A girl who writes because she has to swim to shore somehow, even if it feels like the shore is a place that doesn't exist and has unexpected riptides and whirlpools that appear when I least expect it.
But what is keeping me afloat and stable is my acknowledgement of my truth. My truth, however unglamorous and unpicturesque it is, is mine. It's the one thing in my life that is stable, even when life feels anything but. It's the thing that the Girl Who Writes hasn't written about because she doesn't know how to dress it up in pretty words and metaphors when it's really just been years of hell. I hope when I begin leaning in towards my truth instead of wondering why my truth is unlike others, why I was given this path and this life, I will be able to find peace. I hope that by acknowledging the bad, I can embrace it. Make it mine. Own it.
My truth is that everything that is mine is messy: my room, my mind, my personal life, my romantic life. I'm trying to be better at compartmentalizing things; putting the stress that comes from school in one box, personal stress in another, and everything else that follows. But the truth is sometimes the boxes are too full and everything falls into one big pile in the middle of my mind. And there it sits until I can bring myself to deal with the mess.
My truth is I don't feel comfortable in my own skin anymore. I used to be confident. I used to know myself better. I never used to be anyone that is timid and afraid of being who I am. But now it's hard to speak up and nothing seems to fit right and I pick at my nails until they bleed. I'm constantly worried about how I look to other people—if the hair on the back of my head is straight enough, if my thighs look too big in those jeans, if my voice sounds shaky, if people's laughter is about me.
My truth is I am someone that is a fixer who doesn't know how to fix things. I am the pillar of support that can only plaster up the cracks for so long. I am the one that hides away the struggle so I can focus on helping others. I would rather be silent than let others know what is going on, because telling people means showing weakness and the pretty picture I've painted will be broken.
My truth is that I know I am difficult at times; as a friend, a daughter, a lover. I am in my head too much and I avoid situations because confrontation—and what follows it—terrifies me. I would rather pretend things are fine because I don't like endings. The truth is I would rather close the book before finishing it than let it end completely. I would rather keep people whose words and actions cut the skin at an arm's length than say goodbye forever.
Elizabeth Gilbert ended her statement of truth asking for love, and I would like to do the same. I would like to follow the path—my path—that asks for love. That girl in the photo with the messy hair and messy room and messy life needs to give herself some love.
I want to walk a path that gives love to those that need it, the path that gives love to myself when I need it in the times of feeling broken/healed/lost. My truth, however ugly it is, is mine. It's authentic and real and it's mine. My truth is not ideal. It's not pretty. It's not what I want, but it's the one I have. It's time to lean into it.
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