poetry

Do You? {poetry}

How much of yourself, your real self, do you choose to share with others?

In a world where photo editing and filters have become commonplace, the raw images of our selves are easily skewed. Sometimes even the filters fail to disguise or correct the image the way we want it to. I have been guilty of a quick swipe to delete. There are some pictures I am simply not showing to this world. But why?

I’ve always loved the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Take last night, for example, when the man in the car behind me was ferociously shaking his fist at me for not making my left turn quickly enough. “He must be fighting a battle,” I think to myself, and it makes sense I know nothing of it because this man is a stranger.

But what about those closest to me? Do they share their innermost battles? And do I share mine with them? Do we know each other at this intimate of a level? Intimacy is hard! It requires vulnerability and bravery. Our fears of judgment and rejection can get in the way of sharing our raw, unedited selves.

Sometimes it’s easier to choose filters to omit details or disguise what’s inside for we believe others may not accept us for the crazy, messy humans we really are. But the risk of this is too great. We risk becoming a blurred image of who we are. We risk creating humdrum relationships without depth. We risk missing connections to the most real parts of being alive.

***

Do you want to know me intimately?
Or should I show the picture you want to see?
The one that’s easier to digest.
The society-perfected sketch of a woman.
Innocent. Nurturing. Dainty. Selfless.
It’s like the old 1950’s “The Good Wife’s Guide” article that I laugh out loud reading.
Should I nod sweetly in agreement, or do you want to hear my voice from deep within?

I have so much to say.
I have so much inside to share.

When my body aches to speak, would you rather I exhale my thoughts and exchange them for a silent smile?
Or do you want to hear about the times my heart has fluttered like a hummingbird, or when my laughter was as contagious as echoes through mountaintops?
Do you want to know about the things that have shattered parts of me?
Or would you prefer I tuck away the truth so you can hear a reassuring pleasantry?

When I have words near my lips, do you want me to open my mouth, or keep those thoughts inside me like a wildfire burning through my body?
Would you rather know me like the surface of a still pond — safe, predictable, un-alarming —
Or would you like to know what lies underneath?
Do you want to hear about the days in my life when the sunlit glistening waves have sung to the skies as shells dance back and forth upon the shore? And do you want to hear about the times the dark currents were too big, too strong, and I lost my breath?
Do you want to know the undressed, transparent truths of who I’ve been and who I am?
Are you brave enough to listen?

Do you care to hear about my triumphs that came before you? Of the dreams of my past? Of the person I was then that made me the person I am now?
Do you want to know about the dark things I’ve done? The things I’m ashamed to speak? The things I cringe to even think about myself? Do you want to know that humanly side of me?

Do you want to know me intimately?

And if you do… do you want to stay?

***

Christy Patriarca is a reading and writing coach who believes our words and the stories we share are at the heart of what connects us as humans. She’s a mother of two beautifully brilliant children, a before-sunrise runner, and a middle-of-the-night avid reader. As one who loves productive struggle and contemplation, she’s trying her hand at creative writing for the first time in her life… and loving it!

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