I wasn’t sure I would post anything at all this month. But here I am, only two days past my deadline. Lately I can’t shake the feeling of dread that comes with sharing. I want to take it all back. Everything. The invitation into our world, the social media posts, the things I have written on other topics in other public spaces…all of it.
In a thousand different ways, and in a thousand different moments, I have handed out pieces of myself to a mixed audience. Both in public, and during my daily routine. My humor, heart, stupidity, brilliance, and even cruelty–offered to true friends, fake friends, and strangers. And now it’s all part of my permanent record.
I want to go back to being a mystery. I want to go back to being the nice girl who only occasionally expressed herself through vague lyrics.
Don’t worry. I’ll change my mind.
I know it’s better to have a few people love and support me for who I truly am, than to have many people feel politely drawn to me based on their best guess. And I am slowly learning to stop being so available to “friends” who want me to feel unsure about myself. I am trying to figure out how to throw the invisibility cloak on them, instead.
For the moment, I don’t want there to be places where someone can find me. So how do I offer an update on our lives in this frame of mind?
Teghan has been saying the word “fuck” a lot. She has picked up plenty of questionable phrases over the past year, mostly from me–but this is one of the few things she says with perfect, unmistakable clarity.
She doesn’t know it’s a bad word. It’s not like she can use it in real conversation, or can honestly offend anyone with it. And it makes me laugh. So I don’t care.
Her attempts at speech are often surprising these days, especially when she isn’t quite sure what something is. Yesterday I had some fruit-flavored water, and I was a little stumped on how to label it. I called it “fruit water,” which she promptly switched to “water fruit.” But once she had tasted it, she began requesting it as “gummy water.” It caught me by surprise because “gummy” is a school word. I’m not a fan, so it isn’t something she learned at home.
Pointing to pictures and asking “what’s this?” is a fun game. There are so many words I had no idea she even knew about. Her guesses are hilarious–always said in a monotone, matter-of-fact way. And her calling Donald Trump “grandpa” never gets old.
Her inability to figure out conversation keeps her socially isolated. She forces me to think about basic conversation all the time. Why should any of it make sense to her? Her first instinct was to use language to express her wants and needs. She has no use for small talk. Do I have use for small talk?
Yes. It’s a communication tool which can be used to create comfort, rhythm, and even manipulation. There is an art to conversation that isn’t necessary, but exists.
The next level for her is expressing feelings. This is how I feel. This is how your words make me feel. This is why. She isn’t there yet. Eventually most of us learn to tell stories, make jokes, and discuss hypothetical situations. We learn to communicate fear, anger, and insecurity in more complex ways. Some of us learn how to communicate using subtle clues to inflict emotions in others. Some good, some bad. And two people rarely share the same skill level.
I’d be happy if she could just tell me when she is happy or sad. Or sick. I know she will never experience social interactions at the level I experience them. She will miss out on those extremes; but I have found the good connections outweigh the bad, so I do regret that for her.
She will always be a bit of a mystery. And, I’ll admit, her lack of communication has led me to fill in the blanks about her over and over again. I know I’m not always right. I know I sometimes see whatever I want to see. My best guess. I wish I could see the humor, heart, stupidity, brilliance, and even cruelty that goes on inside her head. There are moments I catch glimpses of it in her actions.
There are days when I recognize her desire to remain hidden, and there are days when I see her frustration in feeling invisible. I wish there were some way for me to communicate to her just how universal those feelings are.