During all these years of pouring my heart out online, I’ve never known anyone offline who checked out my online writings except for an occasional glance by a sibling. Lately, I’ve been meeting people offline, and when the conversation gets around to my telling them about my published books, they come online to check me out.
It’s one thing to meet people because of my grief blogs and grief book, but these people knew me before reading my emotional outpourings. When a couple of these new friends bought Grief: the Great Yearning, I thought I’d find it awkward for them to know so much about me — until the death of my life mate/soul mate, I was reticent about putting myself on display — but oddly, it hasn’t been a problem. Perhaps I’m so used to living wholeheartedly online that being so upfront has become a habit. Perhaps psychologically, I know longer see a difference between online and offline — the two are melding together so that often after an exchange of emails with an online friend, I feel as if we have visited for real. Or perhaps it’s that the woman in the book is no longer me.
When I post excerpts from the book on this blog, sometimes I find myself crying for the woman who had to deal with such trauma, as if the person who wrote the passages were a stranger. And she is a stranger. I’ve come a long way since I wrote those entries — from coupled to uncoupled, from a deep connection to another human being to a solitary connection with the world around me, from a woman who’d lost her identity to someone who is coming to a new realization of who she is.
At the beginning of my grief, I used to bemoan that despite all the trauma, I was always just me, and it’s true — I am always just me. But that “me” has progressed (or at least sidestepped) into a different way of seeing, a different way of being. I used to feel as if everything were over, but now I sometimes feel as if everything is still to come. (Since in many ways I am starting over from scratch, by definition, everything is still to come, though at times it’s hard to maintain such a belief considering that I’m not young anymore.) I can feel the ebb and flow of life a bit better, accept the losses and even the joys that come my way. I still hope for more, of course (though I don’t know what that “more” might be — an even greater wisdom or openness perhaps), but at the moment I am comfortable being me.
And in the end, that’s probably the real reason I’m not uncomfortable with people knowing the truth of me — because I am comfortable with who I was and who I am.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.