I watch The Office. Not, like, I have watched The Office before, but I am watching The Office. I am always somewhere within the series, buried in it. I watch The Office. Sometimes, I consider watching something else, but selecting a new series seems so daunting when The Office has proven itself time and time again.
In the last season, Jim and Pam go through a difficult time in their marriage. (Was that a spoiler? Shame on you for not having watched The Office all the way though by now. Shame! Shame!) They see a counselor who had them use the phrase “to speak my truth” before sharing something uncomfortable with each other.
It is a phrase that I have adopted in my own life.
I first recognized that I was not speaking my truth about ten years ago. I was bottling in my feelings because I worried that I would come off as crazy to people who did not know and love me really well. And by really well, I mean, people who were not my husband. When you stand in front of 150 of our closest friends and family members and vow to spend the rest of your life with me, my brain officially decides that you can handle my truth.
Of course, when I really saw what I was doing, I realized I had been doing it for years. It was dishonest to the people around me. It was dishonest to myself.
So I began speaking my truth. It was a slow process at first. That was mostly because I did not know I was working on doing it. I would lose sleep over the words I wanted to say, the words I had hanging in the deep recesses of my brain. I would hold those words within me until, suddenly, it became more painful to hold them in than to release them into the world.
I took minor risks. I told the waitress that I was not satisfied. I told my best friend that the joke she made at my expense stung more than she probably intended. I told my stylist that I really did not like what he had done with my hair. “Could you fix it for me?”
Last week, a new friend asked me for a favor. He was looking for my brain power, and I was more than happy to help him out as I had been in his position before, and someone had graciously helped me. But then he asked for more help than I felt comfortable giving, and he offered my help as a potential option to a friend of his. Suddenly, I felt weighed down by the burden of helping him.
I began to ponder my truth. I hardly know this new friend. We met so recently. And while I love being helpful and useful, I cannot do so to the detriment of my own mental health or other commitments.
I lost sleep. (I know, that is my pattern.) And sleep has been very hard to come by for the last few weeks. I did not know how to approach the situation. How do I not be crazy to him and also not be crazy to me?
Finally, I settled on speaking my truth. He needed to know. I needed to put my words out into the universe. I needed to be brave.
I reached out to him. I was open, honest, and terrified. I am scared a lot of the time. I do not think that is apparent. There have been countless times in which I have mentioned my GAD, and the person hearing of it has been shocked. “I never would have known,” they say.
I am not exactly wearing a sign. I try not to be a martyr about it publicly. For a long time, it was my secret shame. Something I kept entirely to myself. As I age, however, I am refusing to hide my feelings.
So I told him that I was concerned that we were crossing a line where I no longer felt comfortable giving him more support beyond what I had up to that point. I had to tell him that the very idea of him sharing my intellectual property, even with crediting me with its creation, made me ridiculously anxious.
A note here: I pride myself on my intelligence. I am very cerebral. I have an analytical and logical mind when it comes to problem solving and conquering tasks. I know that comes off incredibly bragadocious, but it is my truth. I will speak it.
He accepted my truth, which has happened nearly every time I have spoken it. The only person who repeatedly refused to accept my truth is no longer in my life.
That interaction, when I spoke my truth, happened on Friday. Today, we saw each other in private for the first time since then. “Are we cool?” he asked.
We are. Once my truth is spoken and accepted, I can shift pretty quickly to something else. I dwell and dwell and dwell on these heavy words that I am scared to say out loud, and then, I say them and I can feel the weight of them lifting off my shoulders.
I want to focus my blog on my family life. And I will, but I felt I needed to mention speaking my truth.
I know the vast majority of my readers come here because they need to hear stories from other people who are doing it. They need to know the battles other people face and overcome because it helps them to know that they are not alone and they can do it.
I challenge you, dear reader, to speak your truth. Trust that your thoughts are valuable and real and valid. You are valuable and real and valid.
You owe it to yourself to not let your thoughts drown you.