I was invited to write this post by a group of bloggers who are participating in a series of posts called "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You". The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make Under My Life and Ez of Creature Comforts. To learn more about the TIATTY movement, you can read Jess' interview with Laura Rossi from the Huffington Post. You can also visit Robin over at Farewell Stranger to read other TIATTY posts as well. I'm honored to be a part of such a brave movement.
I strive to be as honest and transparent as possible when I write here. As difficult as that is sometimes, I choose to do so because I really do believe there is a transforming and healing power in practicing vulnerability.
That being said, I think it's time to admit that there are moments when I choose not to hit the publish button. My draft folder contains approximately 37 posts (yes, I counted) I've been too afraid to share with you and the rest of the online world. They are full of various thoughts, opinions, stories, struggles and victories I haven't found the courage to reveal.
Why am I, a believer in transparency, afraid to share them? Because some of them make me question how people will respond to them and what they will think of me as a person. Because I honestly don't want to offend anyone, or appear to be pushing any kind of agendas on anyone. Because I'm afraid of being viewed as intolerant because I ascribe to a particular belief or ideal, and I don't want to be lumped in with those who share the same beliefs but are intolerant of others. Because I'm afraid of being judged and as much as I hate to admit it, there is a part of me that still wants to be accepted. Because I don't want to be labeled something I'm not. Because I'm afraid of being misunderstood. Because I hate confrontation and sometimes just can't handle negative or challenging comments, even though I do my best to. Because being vulnerable and putting yourself out there can be a lonely existence.
Even writing out that last paragraph has left my hands shaking. The things I'm choosing to reveal today has my hands shaking even more.
So what are some of the things, I, a person who's blog has the word "Confessions" in it's title, afraid to tell you about myself ?
I'm still struggling to forgive the man who sexually molested me. Therapy has helped me begin the healing process, but to be honest, I just don't know if I'll be able to do it any time soon, especially because he is such a close family member. I know I'm a Christian and should forgive, but I don't even know if I want to or am even able to...maybe in time I will. I'm just not there yet. And while I've talked about it some here on the blog, I'm still very afraid to share the details of the abuse and how it has impacted me because I know my family may read it. I'm also petrified to talk to them about it. I hate confrontation, and this just makes me want to keep my distance and not bring it up.
I suffer from OCD. The more I learn about my bipolar disorder, the more I realize that I also I have OCD symptoms as well. This of course means I have to control everything, have a hard time trusting others, and it also means I have ruminating thoughts.
Since I was a child I have this habit where if I'm struggling with a painful event (past or present) or after a confrontation occurs, I rehearse what happened in my head. I pace back and forth and while the event or confrontation is playing in my head, I actually talk my way through it out loud, saying what I would have wanted to say, or confronting someone and calling them out for what happened....I guess you could say I act it out. I get totally lost in it sometimes, even crying and yelling.
I think I did/do this as a way to cope with the abuse I suffered in my youth and with other unresolved issues. I guess it helps me process things. I've been afraid to tell my psych about it. I don't know what she would label it as-normal?disassociating? hallucinating? I just know I've felt "crazy" doing it and have never told anyone. Since I've been on medication and in therapy, it's been a long time since I've done it, but I do still have ruminating thoughts about other things. I also get paranoid and become convinced people hate me or are talking about me. I have an obsessive need to have things in certain places, a particular order, and clean. When they are not, I get angry. With two little kids to take care of you can imagine how exhausting it is to live with this.
I'm afraid that sharing my faith will keep people away from reading my posts and that I'll be perceived negatively because, well let's face it-Christians have been pretty ignorant, hateful, narrow-minded and intolerant lately...and I don't want to be labeled as that type of Christian. I don't want to come across as preachy-that's not my style. While I believe in sharing the Gospel of salvation with others, I don't believe in shoving it down people's throats. That's just not me.
And while I'm being so honest let me say that I used to be that kind of Christian. As diverse as I thought I was, I used to be the one who shoved their views in others faces and was closed minded.I was the one didn't believe in gay marriage, or evolution or abortion, or things most Christians are opposed to. But...the past 2 years, my perspective has changed. My conversations with God on these subjects have changed and as a result so has my faith.
One thing God has reminded me of since last summer is that first and foremost, Jesus commanded us to love people-regardless of whether or not we agree with their beliefs, how they live their lives, or how different they are from us. This has changed my views on everything. This has drastically altered how I treat people and interact with others. I've become a supporter of gay marriage. I now believe in a woman's right to choose what to do about a pregnancy. Actually becoming pregnant with Brennan made me change my stance on abortion-I definitely thought about it as an option when the doctor told me my results over the phone and his father bailed on me a week later. But I'm glad I chose to keep him. I adore this kid.
I believe in the Big Bang Theory, some aspects of evolution, and I don't believe God created the earth in 7, 24 hour days. And yes, even though I've been taught that it's wrong, I do live with my partner even though we aren't married-because it's what works and is what's best financially and otherwise for our family right now....and the best thing? I have peace about it. I know I'm doing the right thing.
While I haven't lost my faith in God, I have lost my faith in the church. I don't agree with the hateful way Christians and Christian culture reacts to and treats other people, and this turns me off from being a part of a church right now. I've made a conscious choice to live out my Christianity by loving others and not judging or condemning them, regardless of what I believe because I believe that's what Jesus would do.
Ooooh. Yes. This. I've written about my experiences with hypersexuality before and talked about it being a symptom of my BP. But I never really elaborated on certain things. As I've gotten older, healed from the pain & damage of being sexually molested, I've finally, within the past year or so been able to actually explore my sexuality and what it means for me to be a sexual being.
I've explored masturbating and have enjoyed it. (A LOT) I've learned that while I'm not gay, I do find certain things about women attractive-like our breasts. Our sensuality. There's just something about being a woman that I find incredibly sexy. Would I kiss another woman? I'd be lying if I said absolutely not. I know Christians aren't supposed to talk about or admit these kinds of things but...I'm being brutally honest here.
I admire the hell out of women who fully embrace their sexuality, own it, and live it out. Because of what I was taught about sex and sexuality from a religious perspective, I used to have a lot of shame about my sexuality and my body. I always felt "impure" and dirty for the way I felt and for the fact that I enjoyed sex. I'll even admit that while I enjoyed sex in the past physically, emotionally I didn't. About 80% of my encounters were based off the fact that I was looking for love and acceptance. I thought if I didn't sleep with my boyfriends they'd leave me for someone who would. But, I don't think that way anymore and I'm finally at a place where I'm able to embrace who I am sexually.... honestly reading this post on BlogHer has helped me with this significantly. I feel liberated. Healthy. Confident.
Having More Children
I want to have more kids...at least one more. What's stopping me or makes me afraid to admit this? Because I have a mental illness. An illness that requires I be on medication. I'm currently on a mood stabilizer that has shown in some studies to be associated with certain birth defects like a cleft palate. I have to take Xanax daily for my anxiety and an antipsychotic to control my OCD symptoms. I can't take anti-depressants because they make my rapid cycling worse, so simply taking one of those during a pregnancy is out of the question. But so is going medication free during a pregnancy. Being bipolar puts me at a higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis-especially if I'm un-medicated. That's not a risk I'm willing to take. I know that even with other therapies being med free wouldn't be in the best interest of myself...or my baby. But what if I stay on my meds and my child is born with a birth defect? Is it fair to do that to my child? Could I handle taking care of them? Could I live with the mommy guilt I know I'd feel?
While studies have shown that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, they say that a child of a bipolar parent has a 15-30% chance to develop the illness. I already have two children I'm concerned about passing this illness on to. My family has a very strong history with mental illness-my grandfather is schizophrenic and many have suffered from depression. Is it fair of me to have more children knowing this? Is it selfish of me to do so?
I don't know. I just know that my heart aches to have at least one more child....but I know I couldn't go through another pregnancy un-medicated...or live with myself if my child had to suffer because of that decision.
So there you have it. 4 things I've been scared to share with you. There are more, but I'm limiting it to these four, and I apologize for this being a long post. I'm going to hit the publish button but know that I'm doing it terrified of what the response will be. Maybe it will be negative, maybe some of you will see all of this as no big deal, but I know that there will be some who will be shocked or uneasy about what I've shared, and be judgmental.
But maybe, at least for me, sharing these facts about myself will give me the courage I need to talk more about these and other topics freely here on 'Confessions, as well as inspire you to be less afraid to tell others those things you hold close to your heart, or are afraid to be judged by.
- Laura Rossi Totten: Things I'm Afraid To Tell You: Bloggers Post Their Naked Truths (huffingtonpost.com)