Please don’t get me wrong,

I was going to publish a different story. One about my face. About my dermatologist. The things is . . . it was supposed to be funny. In my head, I thought it would be funny. I felt like when I had told the story in person, it was funny . . . or, at least, funnier.

But then I sat down to write it. And what came out wasn’t that funny. It really wasn’t funny at all. I got down to the bottom of the page, and I thought “Well, crap. That’s not right.” And I added a funny ending. Something to make it lighter. A kind of joke. I sent it to a close friend, “Is this too pity-party, woe is me? It’s supposed to be funny . . . or kind of funny.” She didn’t really think it was funny either. In fact, it was kind of sad. But she liked it. It wasn’t too pity-party. The ending was forced though, she said. Okay, I’ll work on the ending!

I really struggle with sharing things here. I feel like I have so many stories. I’m constantly writing things in my head — at night when I’m trying to sleep, when I’m walking places, riding the train, in the shower— even when I’m experiencing something, I’m narrating it in my head how I should write it out. And then I never do. Probably that is mostly due to the fact that I am lazy, and writing is actually hard work. Plus I’m a people pleaser and I have a hard time just “writing for myself.” If I don’t share it, what’s the point. If I share it, people will read it. Someone will read it, and what will they think?

But also, I really struggle with my voice — with the stories I want to tell. I love telling stories in person. I think I probably tell the worst stories, with the worst endings, but it’s still fun, and if I have a good story or a willing audience — I’ll eat it up. Even if half way through the story, I realize it’s kind of lame and has no point and ends with “ that’s it.” And I kind of have certain stories that are really fun for me to tell — the time I was conned in Istanbul, the time the restaurant manager started petting my hair in Istanbul, the time we went to the Turkish bath in Istanbul and I had to hand over wet, dirty underwear to the masseuse. a lot of stories in Istanbul. And I really like to tell funny stories, light hearted stories, self-deprecating stories. It’s easy to do in front of people — or with friends.

I remember when I wrote regularly for my school newspaper, my editor told me he really liked the pieces because he felt like they sounded just the way I talked. Just the way I sounded. I loved that. I took pride in that. And those stories tended to be light and funny — or full of lessons learned. I think I keep trying to replicate that here. Because that was fun and that was easy and that was something I was proud of.

And then I sit down to type out these funny stories I tell . . . and it just isn’t right. It’s not what comes out of me. There’s more sadness than I expected or wanted. It feels forced or off. And . . . I don’t want to share that. And I don’t want every single story I write to be full of sadness. I don’t want people to read my words and feel sorry for me. Or think I’m seeking pity. Because my life isn’t sad! My days are mostly full of light and joy and laughter.

But also . . . it is. There is a lot of sadness and a lot of heartbreak. And there are a lot of hard nights. And I don’t like to share that . . . with anyone. Maybe after the fact, “Oh yeah, I had a hard night.” But never, “I am having a hard night.” I don’t like to need people (who does?). I don’t like to reach out in those moments (again, who does?). Grief and sadness is something that has always felt very private — very solitary. This is something that I’ve always kind of known, but have become more aware of recently. It’s become a problem in some of my closest relationships. In a much-needed counseling session with my sister/best friend, she said, “Well, she wrote a blog post about it for everyone to read, but I never saw it. She never told me.” Another friend once asked me, “What do you want from me? Don’t you even need me?” I replied, “I don’t want to need anybody.”

Gah! I’m working on it, okay!

But I digress. I guess what I’m trying to say is . . . there is a lot more heartbreak and grief in my life than I like to admit even to myself, and it’s oozing out in my writing. Writing . . . you sneaky thing you! I have a lot of healing to do this year and the years to come. That’s a very scary thing to realize. Healing is really hard. And it really hurts. And it’s not something I can put in my planner or add to my to-do list. I can’t say, “Okay, every Saturday for a month, I will work on healing myself for one hour,” and be done with it. And I really, really, really hate that.

And I know I don’t have to justify myself. I don’t have to apologize. But I’m going to anyway. To those sweet few who read these, I am sorry if a lot of what I share here is sad. I am sorry if a post or story is a little forced or off. I am sorry that this isn’t full of great traveling vlogs or tips on what to do in different European cities. I am sorry that I don’t write about silly things my students do. Or my top ten most embarrassing moments in Spain. I’m sorry to the people in my life that I don’t know how to actually share my sadness with you.

I’m still finding my voice.

Additionally, this is also why I sometimes struggle to find my voice. I feel like I’m constantly still in the middle of my stories:

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

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