Last week when I was in Utah, I got to meet up with Courtney Kendrick, famous among bloggers as CJane. We share a bunch of mutual friends and events conspired to bring us together. I confess, I was nervous. I was expecting awkwardness.
I think that every one of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, has That Person. That person who is the butt of all your issues. Who becomes the place where you project your insecurities, your jealousies, your inadequacies. I know I’ve been That Person for other people. People who treated me cruelly, publicly, who belittled me privately, who conspired to turn people against me for no good reason except that I somehow pushed all their buttons. Being proud of yourself angers people who aren’t proud of themselves. Not apologizing for yourself angers people who feel shame. When I have encountered these people I always try and ask myself what I’m contributing to the problem – has my pride in my accomplishments crossed into bragging? Am I taking credit I don’t deserve? – and then work on letting it go. This is a lifelong endeavor.
But just as I’ve been That Person for other people, I’ve had my own That Person too. It’s human nature as we’re all struggling along to become better people. In my blogging life, That Person was CJane.
I read about her family uniting together in the wake of her sister’s accident, of the devotion these sisters had for each other, of her father’s place in the community and the connections they had, and I’d think of my own relationships. The parents and siblings I haven’t spoken to for 13 years. The person they tell me I am. The loneliness. And I would squirm with jealousy. Every sentence that I perceived as taking these things for granted made me create this person who had so much and didn’t realize there were people with little.
Then she wrote an infamous post about equality, and that is a subject I have dedicated my life to. I believed I had the most solid of reasons to dislike her.
So imagine my surprise when I met her and fell totally, head over heels, exchanging friendship bracelets, in love with her. That’s the problem with getting to know your That Person. They don’t actually remain the cartoon character you need them to be if you want to keep having a place to project your baggage.
Every issue I had with her was erased in that conversation. Once I realized that she knew she was on a journey and was in the process of figuring it all out publicly, once I could talk with her one on one and realize that families are families and there is always bitter mixed in with the sweet, once I realized that she was taking nothing for granted but negotiating this very slippery ground of living publicly while respecting privacy, I could take back all of my own issues I’d projected on her and view her as the person she actually is. A person I liked, so so much.
Shortly after our meeting, and after exchanging a few emails, Courtney shared a post asking for forgiveness. I thought it was so courageous to be so vulnerable. And made me want to be so protective of her. And made me want to ask for forgiveness myself. I have been judgmental and jealous and unkind. Thank goodness I also had manners enough to keep all my uncharity to myself, but it was so humbling to think about the energy I had put into creating a version of someone that wasn’t really there.
I should know that blogging never gives you the whole picture of things, no matter how open the blogger seems. Some things never make it to the screen. In my time blogging people have diagnosed me with mental illnesses I didn’t have, motivations that never occurred to me, beliefs I don’t ascribe to. We think we know each other in this blogging space, but all we’re getting are snapshots of where we are from one moment to the next. If the blogger is honest and exacting then those snapshots get you pretty close to the truth, but it’s never fully complete. Because we are never fully done developing.
Now I need to find a new place to put my baggage. Maybe this time I’ll finally succeed in just leaving it on the corner and walking away from it all.