I’m not sure why. It has been hot and dry here as summertime approaches. There has been a shift in the weather today. The skies are overcast, and the temp has fallen. It isn’t hot, but it’s oppressive in a way I can’t explain. It feels as though we’re in for one hell of a storm, but it’s waiting. For what, I don’t know. The change in weather has thoughtlessly gifted me with a dull but persistent headache, and the weight upon my chest is pushing everything I’ve been feeling out into the world. It has become obvious that it is time to come to terms with what’s going on in my head and my heart. It has always been this way for me, for as long as I can remember. There is no other way for me but to write through it.
A significant shift has taken place in my life recently, and it’s messed with my equilibrium more than a little. The details are mine, and I have no intention of sharing them with anyone. The truth is, I’m sad. Maybe I knew that already, but writing those words just brought forth a rush of tears. There it is. It’s made me introspective, this confession. Saying it out loud―writing the words― has made me think about who I am as a person. What I am to myself. Who I am to others.
I am the eternal optimist. The always smiling, often giggling happy girl. One day, my son, who was obviously irritated with me for one reason or another, said, “How is it that the sun is always shining on your curly, blonde head?” My daughter has accused me of smiling too loudly on occasion, and I’ve been told that my “Mary Sunshine” outlook on life is much like the sun itself; sometimes too bright … oftentimes stifling in its heat, and sometimes I can actually see those around me scurry away in search of some much-needed shade.
Was I always like this? This person who always finds the bright side of things, the one who spends time trying to cheer people up, the one who finds it nearly impossible to say no when asked to do things, the person who pours everything she has into those she loves … I believe that I have always wanted to make people feel happy and loved. I have always tried to be helpful, to give others what I’ve always craved; love, acceptance, comfort, understanding. There have been a handful of people throughout the years with whom I’ve felt a certain connection. It doesn’t happen very often, but these are the people I’ve felt more compelled to be there for; those few who have really touched my heart, those who have become incredibly important and special to me. For those people, I will always do whatever I can. I will always be there for them no matter what happens.
Optimism, the bubbly part of my personality, the part of me everyone expects was a choice. It was one I made in my early twenties. I don’t remember the exact day, but I remember doing it. There were a lot of things that happened before that time that I didn’t want to deal with anymore; stuff that hurt, like a bruise that wouldn’t heal because I couldn’t stop pushing on the wounded skin. It was a choice I made every single day until it became a part of who I was instead of something I had to work for. That became me. That became the sun that shines on my curly blonde head and what makes my smile so loud.
I am not only that, though. I am so many things.
I am Jennifer, the girl who shared a name with five other little girls in every classroom growing up, painfully shy but over friendly, oftentimes afraid and eager to please, damaged, aching, my mother’s shadow, my father’s burden, and Mimi’s unintentional but lucky fifth daughter.
I am Jenny, insatiable reader, competitive ice skater, punching bag, sullen poet, cute but never beautiful, best friend and confidante. I am emotional, needy, scared and over sensitive with a head full of dreams and eyes filled with stars. I am a lover. I am vulnerable and important. I am strong. I am replaceable.
I am Jen, the accident-prone, giggly, goofy, sentimental, enthusiastically encouraging girl who keeps secrets; both mine and everyone else’s. I am the wild-haired girl who gives endless hugs―and will hold on as long as I can because I need them more than you do. I’m invisible. I’m stronger than I believe, weaker than I want to be, self-reliant, confident, quiet but oh so loud. I am a pain in the ass.
I am J.C., writer and absolute lover of words, friend to many but close to few. I am the girl who keeps promises, suffers from chronic pain, the one who does too much, is too much, but never feels like enough, the one who waters dead plants but smiles and loves without hesitation regardless of the pain it might cause me. I am the best friend you’ll ever have. I’m needy, loyal and kind, frustrating and overwhelming. Funny, happy and sad. I am forgettable.
It’s hard to say whether this has helped me or not. I never know for sure how it will turn out when the need to write things through hits me. The storm hasn’t broken yet, and my chest still feels heavy. I’m still off balance. I know I’ve done what I needed to do, though. What was in my head, what was in my heart is right here now, in black and white. Undeniable and staring me in the face. Sometimes that is enough.