How do you say Matryoshka?

I clicked on stupid Facebook bait to see who I’d still be “best friends with in 20 years”. The results were calculated and I legit had to do a double take. I’d definitely never met the person in the profile picture staring back at me and didn’t even remember we were Facebook friends because I’ve unfollowed them at some point. What’s more sad, the horribly awry results of the quiz?–or me hoping that it’d actually tip me off to who my best friend is?

I’ve recently realized I make an involuntary disgust face when I say the word “intimacy”. And I don’t know why. I’d like to think I’m pretty vulnerable but I guess only with the pre-approved parts of me I allow you to see. I’m authentic but also ever so carefully only put forth the best most polished parts of my weakness. And I think that’s part of what makes me a (wanna-be) writer. My favorite author says, all writing is a subtle form of manipulation. Not malicious, but to (1) communicate an idea and (2) to make the writer sound good.

And I don’t suppose you can be manipulative and intimate at the same time.

Turns out I’m more Matryoshka doll set and less glass house than I’d like to admit. Do you know what I’m talking about? If you don’t, don’t feel bad. I definitely had to google “what are those stackable dolls called”. And don’t you dare ask me to pronounce the word in person, because that would not make this writer look good (see above rules for writing). But the first link that popped up defined them as decorated wooden dolls “with a secret”. I mean, slap my knee and call me brilliant for nailing this metaphor.

The most inner doll would represent my true self. I don’t think this tiny doll is something to be fully hidden or embarrassed of, but there is quite a bit of her I don’t like. So as a whole, I’ll keep those parts concealed for all, except my husband. (And even he, if I’m honest, only sees her briefly.)

The next layers are all different attempts to cover the shame or weakness—depression, defeat or embarrassment found in the center’o’self doll. Each outer shell is a character in a play, all really me; funny, smart, creative, driven—but only in layers strategically to keep the appearance appealing and the control mine. You see? Non-malicious manipulation.

I’m careful to complain about my brain tumor journey, only if I put a perfectly positive spin on it. Even the word journey feels like a curtain hiding the actual more depressing ways I might describe it in my soul.

Maybe you’ve heard the “book version” of me being left at the alter at 23. And yes, in hindsight, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me. But one person saw me wailing in the dark for days and tried to spoon feed me Panera soup so I wouldn’t die. You won’t catch any more details than that in a blog’o’mine.

And here’s decent-but-surface-coverage-only-bomb-drop… I don’t know my biological father. Turns out, when you don’t fully know where you came from, you do weird things like spit in a tube to find out. Surprise! I’m a 40% southern Italian girl. They don’t make balloons for such an occasion but I think this all finally explains my obsession with fried mozzarella, pizza Fridays and Olive Garden breadsticks. Also just know, I’d probably need a lot of money and a solid book deal to ever go in depth about any of this seriously.

I’m annoyingly paralyzed by what you’ll think of me if I didn’t have a good sense of humor about my life or forget about if you knew the things I’m not even comfortable eluding to. Laying all the really messy unfiltered junk out there is quite the burden dump. I am careful, for the most part, to never do it to you, so maybe my hope is you’ll never feel comfortable enough to do it to me? But I know, and need you to know (any friends that might be reading this) the idea that my true self will be a burden to you—my fear of intimacy—has nothing to do with you and everything to do beliefs I’ve conjured up in my own head.

So… Is my ability to paint a safe shareable picture a gift or a curse? Still deciding. One thing is true, though.. I’m learning, unfortunately and shamefully, I care way more about your perception of me in that painting than I care about you, probably.

It’s late. I shouldn’t have said that. Or maybe said it nicer. Did you gasp? It’s okay if you did. It was quite a monstrous confession.

And all of this because I’m reading a book about “dropping the act and finding true intimacy”. When the said act is dropped, though—it’s scary and selfish. I’m also knee deep in another book that is urging me to be humble or go to hell. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The New Testament? Jesus has a lot of things to say about thinking of myself less. Funny how these two books are non-coincidentally (because no coincidences with God) very connected.

I’m going to intentionally leave this messy, unedited and unresolved. Mostly for a purpose but also because it’s late and I just held my daughter’s hair back while she puked. And though it pains me to not cleverly arrive at a perfectly wrapped ending, or beg you not to be appalled by some of my honest ramblings; let’s consider this my first exercise in intimacy and also my first step towards a book about glass houses or self love versus humility or something.

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