Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Wish I Were Patti Digh

Come on now, don't you? Patti is the hands-down heroine of my lovely online community, a well-deserved position. And it's her birthday today, too, so I thought I'd admit my secret longing.

I know it's not cool to compare yourself to other people, but I'm not cool, and I do it, even though I know how silly it is. I'd love to write like Lori-Lyn, or have the energy of Jessie or Jane. I'd love to be as smart and brave and well-loved as Kelly or as wise and profound as Chani. I long for the groundedness of Patti. I want the multiple successes of Heather. The ability to be the best friend in the world like Rick. The productivity and perseverance of Kate. The positivity of Carmen. The realness of Suzi. The raw talent and beautiful blog posting ability of Kim. I could go on but I won't.

Instead, I'm me. I am definitely not cool, am rarely funny, only occasionally witty, and just from time to time have profound things to say. Today it's enough, though, and I'm really happy just being Olivia. I admire my wonderful friends, all of you, and feel so blessed to have you in my life.

During this dark time, I wrote 37 ways I feel like a failure and then reframed them all. This was a very helpful exercise as these things were there, you know, even though I wouldn't admit to believing them--they were there. After having completed this exercise and purging those "forbidden" thoughts, I do feel much better. I also think that everyone feels this way from time to time.

I have had nothing whatsoever to say to anyone here on this blog, on Twitter, or in my real life. Nothing. Not even in my journal. Then this morning I got an email from a friend that was very real and admitted some struggles...something about it's realness and vulnerability helped me to crack open my thinking and writing block.

You know, in our community we write when we can uplift and encourage, or say something of "value", but less often or not at all when we are down. I think we feel some pressure, or at least I feel some pressure, okay, to deliver something of value or inspiration to those who read our blogs. I know that at times (like when I was a life coach) I felt a great obligation to deliver positivity and to role model for my clients.

I think I have gotten over this, in that now (after weeks of depletion, depression, and isolation) I would rather be real even in this despairing time. Some bloggers I know have done this well, like Suzi and Angela and Jane. I would rather have the courage and authenticity to cover the dark side of my life as well, as they do. I think they are brave.

I think that sometimes we are not authentic because we are afraid we will look weak or not be loved. At least this is why I withdraw from this, one of the best places of my life with the safest people I know.

Also, it is easy for me to write about things that are commonly held values, but harder for me to write about things that are not. For example, I would feel comfortable writing about fantastic drumming at church, but not about amazing worship at church. It's very silly, considering the safety of this community, and it has astounded me how I am still such a slave to social conformity and social approval.

It reminds me of the time years ago when LoveHubbie and I were fundamentalist Christians. I was afraid to let my friends know that I loved labyrinths and drank wine, and that LoveHubbie secretly listened to NPR in his car. We'd never let anyone know that we did such things. We have blamed this on "the fundies" as we later called scornfully called them, but in reality it was our own desperate need for social approval fueling our desire to conform.

It is easier here to write about nature, our art, mindfulness and acceptance, celebrations and family, and harder to write about things like hunting, failure, neediness and wanting to be stroked, admiring Sarah Palin, bankruptcy, black moods, Jesus, mental illness, suicidal feelings, and cancer. I'll be mysterious here and admit to some but not all of these things.

The older I get, the more I want to be authentic. I hope that I am finding a good, sturdy and enduring way out of my dark cloud. Today is a good day. I got out of bed and am having a Sacred Sunday and a true day too. I am at last able to connect in some way with all of you. I am totally fine--totally fantastic, actually--being me, and even fine wanting to be Patti Digh. I am able to see and taste of some of the sweetness of life.

And thank you, my good friend, for opening up a little more to me, and for provoking me to open up more myself.


Melita said...

oh honey, i've missed you. and you are fabulous!! i hope to one day meet you in person :)

thailandchani said...

You just gave me a really good idea! You mention how so many of us are afraid to be too authentic, too real, and then of course there are people like me who are *too real* in an occasionally obnoxious way. These are the things we don't typically write about.

Remember Sacred Life Sunday and Wellness Wednesday?

Well, how about "True Day", a day when all of us choose to blog about something *real*, some truth about ourselves and our lives, that we don't readily admit?

Hm. You may have started something here. :)


thailandchani said...

Oh, and I'd like to be Patty Digh sometimes, too!



patti said...

My offering of wisdom for the day :)

It takes courage to face ourselves, our naked truth. You have courage Olivia. Your struggles have helped me on more than one occasion. It's nice to talk about the pretty things in life, but we all feel ugly at times and as Chani says, this is more like the truth.

Love means accepting that we are, each of us, perfect and imperfect in our own way, but striving to be better in spite of it all.

Please don't ever turn into Patti Digh, I would miss Olivia way too much!

Kim Mailhot said...

Well, lovely Olivia, you know I am a HUGE Patti-fan myself ! My fantasy isn't so much to be her but to be her assistant ! ;) I kind of feel like I am that from afar - passing on the great things that she has helped me learn to others and praising her to high Heaven whenever possible. What I like about the role of assistant is that I get to still completely be myself - this woman I am coming to Love,...most days anyway. ;)
I think that being real - good, bad, joyous, sad, angry, frightened, grateful, inspired... is the only way for us to really suck the marrow from this life. It is all part of it - this wondrous yet crazy life. Sharing it and being open about your own struggles doesn't always bring people down, you know. Often it encourages them to give you a hand back up, and they, in return, get to feel needed and appreciated, just for being there.
A lot of thoughts went through my mind as I read your vulnerable, sweet and meaningful post tonight. The main one, though, comes from our mutual friend, so it is fitting to end this with it here, on her birthday...Remember, Olivia...
As Patti says "You are not broken."
Blessings on you, Brave One.

Heather Plett said...

A brave post from a brave, authentic, real, and amazing woman. I'm so glad you chose to say these things.

And in case you think I always feel like I have "multiple successes" and that I never feel like a complete and utter failure and wish that I were someone else, that would be dead wrong. I have heaps of self doubt and fall into the comparison trap ALL the time. I just got Patti Digh's book in the mail in fact and my first thought was "oh how I wish my name were on a lovely book like this."

Kate Iredale said...

Olivia, I too have missed you! You're the bravest, most authentic and very "real" blogger I know. Your honesty is freeing to all who visit here.

I also went through a very silent online period last year when I was struggling with fatigue and ill health. I know you'll get your own Olivia style mojo back when the time is right.

I'm also very glad you're Olivia and not Patti! Patti is an amazing and wonderful human being but the world absolutley needs the contemplative and introspective soft breezes as well as the whirling, spinning tornado's of high energy, in order to bring it to a place of perfect balence!

Dinea de Photo said...

Love your writing

Lori-Lyn said...

oh - I've missed you, too. This is a profound post -- about something that has been very much on my mind. Love you.

Kate said...

I will add to the chorus I have really missed you. Your wise words and yes you do have humor sometimes.

I think Patti is great to as are all the other people you mentioned. I think that when there are people we are drawn to; those who we really resonate with we naturally want to be like them. I think we manage to pull some of their qualities out and incorporate those into our lives. You might not be Patti but by her example there is a little of Patti in you. Reading her has affected your life and you have internalized some of it, so its part of you now. You are a wonderful beautiful soul Olivia and I am so glad you are posting again. I have missed not having my Olivia fix....

Much love,

Olivia said...

Thank you all for your beautiful comments. Although I read each one when it was posted (and treasured each one), I read them again all at once today to give myself an incredible birthday gift---which indeed it was! You all are amazing, and have the ability to affirm me so much. I will never be able to express how much your comments mean to me. Celebrating my wonderful community today, with love, O

Carmen said...

more hugs!

p.s. love Patti too!

Mary G said...

Well said! I just found you through Chani's link and really admire you for sorting this all out in your mind and expressing it so very movingly.

Angela said...

I'm very sorry I'm so late reading this, O. You are so perfect and beautiful as you are. I hope this difficult time is passing, as they all will. Thank you for mentioning me. I think my blog is hard for people sometimes because I share some of the darkness I experience. But in my heart I hope it might help someone. And there will always be the light at the end. I know it. For all of us. I love you alot, O.