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what do you want?

liz lamoreux

reflection

There are a lot of voices that whisper inside me. That is just the truth. But there is one that has been trying to spend a lot of time with me recently. It has been a soft voice lately, but I know it has been there for a long time, and it has, in the past, even been a loud, shouting voice. This voice says things like: “Who do you think you are?” “Why are you doing this?” “Do you really think anyone cares? About you? About what you are DOING? About who you are?” “Why can’t you just be quiet and leave others alone?” “You always want to talk about things and no one else does. Shut up.” “Stop whining.” “This is pathetic. Just stop. It will be easier if you just sit back down in your corner.”

There are lots of things that I can do to ignore this voice. I read, eat, watch television, go to a movie, listen to music, practice yoga, talk on the phone with a friend, talk and talk so I don’t have to hear it. But it just waits until I think I feel some balance. Then it begins again.

Over the last few weeks, the comments and emails I have received from you wonderful people who visit me in my world at this blog have simply overwhelmed me. You have invited me to honor who I am and how I share myself here. But just as I finish reading and feel those words start to fill up my heart, this whisper starts up again. “Who do you think you are? You can’t really believe that stuff.” And I recognize that may seem like I am not honoring what people have written, but that is not the case. This is not about the writer of the comment or email, it is about me. It is about how I cannot accept that the words are true.

I always thought my friends thought of me as “the bitch” of the group. I always wanted to do the right thing and not get in trouble. I would disagree with them. I had strong opinions about what was right and what was wrong. I was liberal and independent and wanted to be strong in a culture that kind of just wanted me to shut up and be like the rest of the girls. In grade school, I recited Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” for my oral interpretation. My freshmen year of high school, my speech teacher had me speak against the Equal Rights Amendment because he knew how alien this would be to me. I was so angry I could not vote for Bill Clinton in high school because I was worried he wasn’t going to win. I could be moody at times because I felt sadness and was troubled by things that were happening around me and in the world. I was confused by fakeness and would react with emotion when I was confused. Friends would keep things from me (like how a boy I had a crush on had asked one of them out on a date or that they all started smoking when I was vocally against smoking because my grandfather had died of lung cancer before I was born) because they were afraid of how I would react, “Liz is emotional.” I had similar experiences in college and beyond. And this made me feel scared that I didn’t really have any friends because no one really knew me or wanted to really know me.

There is a song by the Spin Doctors that was popular in high school called, I think, “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.” One of my high school friends turned to me one evening and said, “Liz, I think this song is about you.” Do you know how that song starts? “Been a whole lot easier since the bitch left town.” Wow. That interaction greatly shaped my role in my group of friends in high school and to this day. Was I the bitch?

In my family, I often felt like the oldest person in the room because of my need to do the right thing or because I felt so deeply about things or because I wanted to talk about things or because I spent so much time worrying about everyone else. And this was different from how people in my family reacted to life, at least from my perspective at the time.

(This is where a disclaimer originally appeared. A place where I talked about how I am not pointing any fingers and I am not trying to invite anyone to feel bad. But really, I have to stop that. Sometimes my life feels like a disclaimer {my friend Heather is out there nodding somewhere} so I deleted it. Still, remember that this blog is about my perspective and not about someone else’s. My name is the one in the sidebar to the right.)

When I look in the mirror, I am afraid to be honest about the fact that I think some of that past stuff is shit. That I do not think I am a bitch. (Am I?) That I do not think I was wrong when I was vocal because I felt compassion for others or because my goal wasn’t to be a quiet “good” wife one day or because I was intelligent or because I was mad about something or confused…the list is endless.

Now there is a bit of a disconnect between my realization that I have spent so much time thinking about the feelings of others and not myself and that some of these others think of me as a self-centered person. This seems so confusing. And I wonder if some people read my blog and think, “This isn’t really her. I mean, she isn’t being honest about how she can be a bitch.” But as I look in the mirror, I think I just have to honor that I know my truth.

And your words, the community I have found here, a community where I do think people are real with one another, helps me see this. Do I believe this seems so “real” partly because I don’t have baggage yet with the people I have met through blogging? Perhaps. But what I think is that in this environment, many people (certainly not all, but the people I feel the deepest connections with) get right to the guts of things. The small talk isn’t needed. Whether this is on their blog, in an email conversation, over the phone. Instead, we just get right to it. The heavy lifting. The good stuff that is hard and painful and beautiful and true.

Last night, I turned off my computer earlier than usual and went to bed to read. I may be the last blogger to read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, but I am finally reading it. I imagine there was a reason I waited until now. I am so swept up in it that I keep promising myself little things like, "just edit one more chapter, then you can read five pages." There is something wonderful about not reading on a computer screen because I do that all day long with my work and when I am out in blog world.

Gilbert's words prompted me to spend time in front of my mirror around midnight last night. I got up to go to the bathroom and then after I washed my hands, I leaned against the bathroom counter and had a meeting of the minds with myself.

What do you want?

The answer came right away. But then: You can’t really do that.

What do you want?

Same answer. Then, no, you don’t want that.

What do you really want?

Same answer. But, you said you wanted this and that, so you are kidding yourself again.

What do you want?

Same answer. This time I did not even pay attention to the voice, I just asked myself again.

And again and again and again, the same answer.

As I leaned into the mirror, I felt as though I had clarity about something that the negativity could not touch. Clarity that is not about some huge life changing thing exactly, but something I know to be true about my future and who I want to be. Something I have pretended to have clarity about in the past but always that knowledge seemed to succumb to that voice. And maybe it will again. But at least I see it for what it is now. Just a voice that wants to drag me to the past. The past I honor because it brought me to this place. But a past in which I do not live.