There’s a scene in the movie ‘The Breakfast Club’ where Ally Sheedy’s character Allison dumps the contents of her purse on the table in front of her. At this point in the movie, she’s been pretty quiet and almost invisible but later on in the movie, Emilio Estevez’s character says this to her:
“I didn’t dump my purse out and invite everyone in to my problems.”
I honesty don’t think that was the character Allison’s intention when she did that purse-dumping bit. I think it was a bid for attention, to remind everyone else she was in detention right along with them. But that line above… it’s always felt like an accusation that when people do make themselves known this is what the reaction will be. An accusation that someone was invited into something they didn’t want to be a part of.
A few days ago, I wrote something in my book ‘The Road’ that stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m not sharing the details of it here yet because it’s still in a very early rough-draft stage but it’s a very honest thought I’d never given words to until then. In the days afterward, I began to think about that hard honesty and thought: I should compartmentalize this and not talk about what I’m writing. My reasoning was if I did someone would come at me and not just disagree with me, but try to get me to shut the hell up. And they would try to do that by saying I’d just dumped things out and invited people into my problems when they didn’t want to be.
To be clear here: my writing is not a forced invitation into my world. People have the choice whether or not to come to it, or if they do come to it to walk away from it. And I’m sure as hell not asking anyone to solve my problems for me. I’m sharing my thoughts and feelings, and my experiences so that other people who have thought and felt like I have, and have been through things like I have will hopefully realize they’re not alone and there are other people who understand what they’ve been through, or are going through now. Because the hardest part of my life has always been feeling like I’m alone with my thoughts and feelings, and my experiences don’t count for shit in this world because they don’t align perfectly with what someone else wants from me.
Another thing I’m working through is being told I had nothing to talk about to begin with, and that if I spoke out in disagreement I was a hypocrite because I disagreed with someone and didn’t want to change my mind even though I wasn’t in the wrong in any way, shape, or form. In reality, it was like I wasn’t allowed to have my own thoughts and feelings, and my own opinions on anything unless they perfectly aligned with someone else. Worse, I was told I had nothing worth saying to being with. In turn, I felt like I had to keep quiet because if I didn’t, peace would descend into war against me and I would be sent into exile.
I know now that I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings. And that when someone turns something back on me, they’re wrong in doing that. Because if someone disagrees with me, they’re more than free to tell me. Hell, I’ll defend their right to speak freely. But in return they don’t have the right to tell me not to speak at all. And if they can’t accept we don’t live in a perfect world and there may be no common ground to be found, that’s on them. I know all too well I might have to walk my path in life alone. That’s something for me to deal with because although I don’t want to walk alone, I’m more than prepared to.
But through my writing I share my journey so that other people walking alone like me will have someone with them. Maybe not in person but in spirit, or on paper or in a digital format. Because of this, I told myself I’m not compartmentalizing my life ever again. I’m not going to box stuff up and put it away and act like it doesn’t exist for anyone, even if they tell me to do that. I can’t live in the past, or in silence, and I can’t forget what I’ve unboxed and dealt with. I’m at the point in my life where I’m sorting it out and looking for new ways to organize it and find space for it inside myself. This is how I will continue my journey in life.
I may or may not talk about difficult stuff I’m writing about or working through. I don’t work through the hard stuff 24/7 but if I want to share it I will. And if someone disagrees with that, please know I’m not inviting you into my world unwillingly so you can walk away at any time. I am inviting people in who care, and who are struggling like me, or need a place to take their mind off the hard stuff in their life for a while.
This isn’t a warning or any bullshit like that. It’s a statement of mine that there is no need to compartmentalize things if you don’t have to. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have to do that anymore. I did in the past to survive because that’s how the human mind works- it packs stuff away until you have the time and space to unpack it and work it out.
This is my time and space here, and writing is how I unpack and work things out. So I’m not dumping my purse out, but unpacking it, sorting through stuff, and then packing back what I need in a better way.