Never Complain and Never Explain ~ Benjamin Disraeli
Almost 100 years before the government brought us the motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, it was headed by Benjamin Disraeli , who delivered this no nonsense quote that epitomizes the notion of the British stiff upper lip.
While I blame my Italian blood for denying me the composure required to pull off the former, I do my best to live by the latter. I try not to make excuses, and if I can’t be positive then I can at least be quiet.
When my body decided to betray me, I was not going to be the person that dominated the conversation with her tale of woe. Besides, I never forgot that everyone has a story, and mine was certainly not a tragedy.
So I plastered on a smile to cover up the gritting of my teeth and I went about the business of working and raising a family.
Unfortunately, true friends see the pain a beautiful smile can hide and I had no desire to burden anyone with problems that had no real solutions. I knew I had to make the best of the situation and I started to seclude myself until I could figure out exactly how to do that. The unintended side effect was an isolation that fed on itself and added depression to the list of symptoms that I was trying to shield the world from. As well, I’m sure I hurt the feelings of the very people I was trying to spare, who couldn’t understand why I had disappeared from their lives.
It all came to a head when one of those wonderful friends reached out with her own heartache. I didn’t know how to respond. I had no well of optimism to draw from but I also knew my problems didn’t compare so I couldn’t commiserate . I needed to say something, I just didn’t feel I had anything to offer.
If I couldn’t provide light, I could at least hold her hand in the dark so I poured everything that I had been battling into an email. I apologized for being distant, and then I complained and explained and then I apologized for that as well. Before I could over analyze what I had written, and worry that I was unburdening on someone who already had more than enough to deal with, I signed off with love and pressed send.
Suddenly I felt a little lighter. The day started to take shape and I was able to tackle things that earlier had seemed insurmountable. By getting everything off my chest, I was able to put things into perspective. The walls I had erected to protect my friends had unwittingly become my jail cell.
I started toying with the idea of a blog where I could direct all my negativity and complaints and then ship it out into some unknown corner of the internet. My health had arrived at a point where there was no cure that I could work towards. I had always been results based so although the verdict was definitely not devastating, I think I got lost without a finish line to cross. Creating a blog gave me a goal and something to work towards even when my body refused to cooperate.
Deciding to write in an online format meant choosing a theme, creating a name and designing a logo. Dee Hock once said “create an empty corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” By the time I got to the point of actually writing my first entry, it was not just a vessel to pour all of my frustration and pain into. Suddenly my outlook wasn’t as dark, so my subject matter was able to take a lighter tone.
I was also introduced to a community that reminded me that I was not alone. Blogging helped not only to empty a corner of my mind, but also filled me with inspiration.
By being quiet, I had lost my voice. If it hadn’t been for a friend who I felt was lost, I would never have taken those first steps that ultimately gave me direction. Maybe someday something I write will strike a chord in some future reader and help them begin their journey. As Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “An arch consists of two weakness, which, when leaning on each other, becomes a strength.”
Or maybe, all my musings will disappear in the internet never to be seen again. Either way, I will write because as I said, everyone has a story.
This is mine.
We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering ~ Brené Brown