Pieces of Me

It’s been about a month now since I made my blog available for public consumption. The fervor around it has died down, partly because I’ve been slacking off in the writing department in favor of actually passing my classes. My “Vignettes” have all been published, my Facebook friends have gotten used to the image of me with a bottle of Boost in my hand, and I’ve received several powerful and moving responses from people I never would have expected to hear from. It’s been a smooth transition, I think, and I am grateful that I was blessed with the gift of such beautiful and supportive followers.

It was scary. It still is. All of a sudden a thousand little pieces of me became searchable codes of binary. Google my name and you’ll know more about me than some of my best friends do. Browse through pages of my thoughts and you’ll know what I’m feeling before I do. Most of the time I don’t think about the implications of my writing, but when it hits me, sometimes I get scared that I’ve let too much slip out. Overshared. I get this horrible feeling that everyone is going to think I’m stupid for baring my soul to the ether. After all, what kind of nut job would publicly admit to being crazy?

My roommate once jokingly told me that I should keep my blog far away from potential suitors. Another friend warned me about what might happen if it were discovered by a potential employer. “Do you really want your boss to know that you have a history of mental illness?” she asked me skeptically. “Or that you cry a lot when you’re drunk?”

She made excellent points. My roommate, too, who is never too shy to point out that my “poor future husband” is going to have his hands full with all my baggage, is partially right. These might not be the parts of me that are the most marketable or make the best first impression. I understand that showcasing my roughest edges is a risky thing to do.

The thing is, they’re just pieces.

Everything on the internet can be broken down into a completely abstract code that is read and reassembled by individual computers. Those candid little paragraphs in which I wrote my darkest dreams are nothing but a series of 0’s and 1’s traveling through cyberspace. But me? I cannot be quantified in base-2 or base-10 or base-30 million. I am not a simple sum or product of numbers. I am a person, a person so complex that no amount of neuroscience or psychology can explain exactly who I am.

So I have a history of mental illness. I walk through each day with that knowledge. I rely on the help of a supportive treatment team, an incredible group of family and friends, and psychoactive drugs to live the life I want, and deserve, to live. Should I be ashamed of that? Does it mean that I work any less diligently to achieve my goals? Does it mean that I am a less intelligent, responsible, creative person? Does it mean that I am worth less than anyone else?

I’m human. Not every day is sunshine and rainbows. I have a nasty habit of being too hard on myself. I get jealous, insecure, and nervous. Sometimes I do things that aren’t totally responsible. I have conflicts, I fall in love, I watch embarrassingly stupid TV shows way too often.

I also think that if anyone asked me to identify the most important thing I’ve gained from my struggles, it would be this: I know myself. I know what I do well, I know what I do badly. I know what I want. I know what I’m scared of. I’ve spent enough time fighting my inner demons that I think I have a much more solid grasp on life than a lot of college seniors. And I’m not saying that to be self-righteous, I’m saying it because I know myself. I know what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned.

I’ve learned that I can’t fight who I am. I can’t try to constrain my imagination in a box of logic and I can’t make myself into a leggy 5’11” supermodel. What I can do, however, is discover all the missing pieces of me – the ones I shut out by trying to conform to unrealistic expectations. They’re a part of my story, too, but I won’t share all of them. I will hold some of my broken fragments up to the light because I’m proud of the way my scars are healing. Others I will keep as mementos, close to my heart.

I am more than my eating disorder. I am more than my self-doubt. I am more than my experiences. I am more than my writing. Those are just pieces. The rest of me is in this moment hoping and planning and dreaming and loving in a million ways that cannot, and will not, be expressed in words. But I’m not hiding. The thing is, everybody’s a little bit broken. If you search hard enough, everybody has things they wrestle with and parts that aren’t pretty.

But those are just pieces.

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8 comments

  1. You’re smart – always have been, don’t forget that piece. Not just in the academic sense that you can take a test well (but I know you can do that too). You hear what people say and you don’t automatically assume it’s true, black or white – you consider it within your own personal values, codes. That’s what makes you such a good writer, that’s what makes you such a REAL and interesting person, that’s why I always read and will always support you, Gwendolyn. Trust yourself – you know what’s best.

    “trust your intuition
    it’s just like goin fishin
    you cast your line and…
    hope you get a bite
    but don’t you waste your time worryin’ about the marketplace
    try to help the human race”
    Paul Simon

    keep writing – don’t worry about anyone else – your story is always valuable.

    xx Katie πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    PS I know this is the longest comment ever but I had to, I just had to!

  2. I give you A LOT of credit for being so open and honest with the word. I get where your roommate, friends, and whomever else feels the need to comment on your choices to share your life so openly. But in reality there’s nothing wrong with it and I think it’s empowering and can be very beneficial to do so. I struggle with the thought of opening up about my own ed struggles on the internet but in reality there isn’t anything to fear. You are not an illness nor a bad person who deserves anything less than any other good human being because you have struggles in your life. Everyone has struggles why deny it or hide it? With sharing it with the world you can find great support and help others out too. If someone won’t hire you because you have an illness that you’ve learned to over come and manage then that’s there lose. And who’s to say they don’t end up hiring someone else with an illness but they don’t know it because that person didn’t share? You deserve to live a healthy life the way you want to and should never feel ashamed or afraid to share your struggles along with your joys in life. Best wishes to you on your continuation to live a healthy life! And all the power to you to keep writing!!

  3. I’m so thankful that you posted on the YW Moonshine grid or else I may have never discovered your blog. Your writing is beautiful, and I am drawn to your honesty.

    I’m more than twice your age, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to talk/write about my ED. You inspire me.

    1. Thank you so much, Karen! That’s ultimately why I decided to put myself out there – so that I could be a voice for the people who can’t talk about it yet. I appreciate your kind words πŸ™‚

  4. I relate to all you’ve written here. The putting yourself out there for all to see, even future employers – it wasn’t an easy decision. However, I think we’re at our best when we’re being honest – just as you’ve done.

  5. Standing ovation!

    Brilliantly written and honestly shared.

    Good for you for acknowledging the pieces for being just that and for accepting and cherishing the whole!

    Also, remember – fuck it!

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