Monday, October 26, 2015

When I say too much

It's a very thin line, almost invisible, between saying the words that need to be said, the ones that express exactly how you feel and believe, and saying too much.  But the difference I witness in the face of the listener is crystal clear.  When I share too much of myself, I see the slightest retraction of their eyes, they back away just a little bit, and immediately try and cover it up with a smile.  That awkward smile...  screaming to me that I just lost another potential friend to the misunderstanding and stigma of my mental illness.

What I have never understood is what changed in that moment.  I know it wasn't me, and guessing that this is not a new reaction for them, they didn't change either.  Really nothing changed, other than the realization that I struggle with something that cannot be seen by the naked eye.  Perhaps they believe I am asking them to do something, to help me, to save me.  But I am not.  I am only trying to be 100% who I am, and all I want is acceptance, and the occasional "Me too!"

But here is the best part of this conversation I am having today.  There are so very few people out there that I can never say too much to.  Instead of furrowing their brow, backing away, and fleeing the awkwardness, they lean in, wanting to know more, wanting to understand, wanting me to be 100% who I am and nothing more.  And honestly,  I think it is a good thing for now.  I don't think I could handle everyone always open to what I have to say.  But one or two...  I couldn't live without those few, who see me and not my mental illness. 

If you find yourself in one of those borderline conversations, next time, try to lean in, try to relax your expressions, and try to see that nothing has changed from one moment to the next.  Be grateful that person is letting you into the other side of their world.  You may learn more than you expect!

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