An Open Book With Fine Print

I sit here with five open documents. Four unfinished pieces, each with a direction I can’t seem to find. And this one. What is it that I’m trying to say? What is it that I want to say? If I knew, maybe I’d say it.

What power do words hold anyway?

I’m not here to save anyone.

I don’t even know if I can save myself.

I say that not as a cry for help, and not for art. I say it just to say it, to write the words into existence and free them from my mind. A friend had advised me after my suicide attempt to be less mysterious, to avoid the catastrophe of any cries for help being misconstrued as art, but I’m just wondering out loud.

I’ve never known life without a thread of depression, and I’ve never shied away from discussing it. I suppose, I figure, the power of words is to remind us we’re not alone.

But where is the line? What boundaries do we set? I shared the story of my recent brush with self-harm, having cut myself three times in the past year, to ease the heavy pressure on my being, and to maybe take some off of yours – whether you relate, or whether you’re simply trying to understand. (You can read those posts here and here.) My history of self-harm has only been to ease the non-physical pain, and to serve as a distraction. I never knew sharing my truth would lead others to consider me violent.

This, I suppose, is where the mystery kicks in, why I describe myself as an open book with fine print. Because that story ends there, that sentence is all I’ll give. Violent? I don’t even like violence on screen.

But the fact is – being open and honest has handed me unexpected consequences more than once. This very blog has been used against me. The pain I let go of through words has been returned as poison in my tea. I have sipped it, but I’m not dead yet.

On March 31, 2019, a friend and I had a discussion via twitter about being open on the world wide web. I said, “Being open takes courage, and when we’re met with resistance or ignored, that courage feels obsolete. Fear and regret and doubt take its place. And so we act out of that fear, instead of the love. It’s a tight slippery rope.”

We, as a society, cannot go on punishing the vulnerable; taking their experiences and using them against them. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than the blood I’ve drawn, the pills I’ve swallowed, and those personally affected by my actions. This is a problem. We must lead with love, with compassion. We’re bound to falter, to let our emotions take hold, but dear God, we must try harder.

We are all misunderstood. It is the way of life. I will never fully understand you, and you will never fully understand me. Our experiences are not one and the same. Our paths are not lined with the same stones. Do not judge the feet in the shoes you have not worn.

But stories and words have the power to connect us, to heal us, to ignite the feeling inside of us that says, hey, someone out there feels what I feel, someone out there knows my pain, someone out there relates to me, hey, maybe, just maybe, I am not alone. And so I will share, no matter the consequences, the truth of who I am, and the truth of how I feel. Because hearts will not mend in silence. Life is not meant to be lived in the shadows. And only open hearts can open closed minds.

Well, now, it seems, I found something to say.

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