Open Up as The First Step to Get The Support That I Need

As a woman who seems so open about many things included the very embarrassing experiences in her life, I’m actually not THAT open. I hide some stories inside my chest and bury them in every abandoned corner of my heart, hoping it’d soon be forgotten. And there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. You understand that part, right?

People have told me to be more open about what I feel, but it’s hard when you already see me as one thing, and then I have to reveal the opposite of what you see. It’s hard when whatever you see in the surface doesn’t even represent half of what remains underneath.

As much as I seem to talk a lot and be honest about things I see in my surrounding, I actually spend more time talking with myself and lie about my feeling. My entire life suddenly consists of me playing one role to another. Being me that is always happy, talkative, enjoy hanging out with friends, and being me that is depressed, anxious, and sometimes scared to interact with people. I’ve already lost count of how many times I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression. Someone recently asked me if I was planning to tell my boyfriend about it. It’s something I have never been itching to do, and honestly, it kind of caught me off guard.

I’ve never been great at stringing words to perfectly narrate my condition as mannerly and clearly as possible to someone who actually sort of aggravated this already existing illness. It’s difficult to do all that when everything I really wanted to do was raging non stop like a crazy monster about how he treated me like crap and how I didn’t deserve to be treated this way at all. It’s hard to talk when you’re in so much pain. But it’s a different kind of pain, not like flu, or high fever. But a few days ago, I finally managed to tell him about my mental health condition.

Another reason why I’m afraid to open up: I’m afraid that instead of getting the support, I get judged by them, they stay away from me because they think I’m weird and crazy. I’m afraid they don’t take my story seriously. Because sometimes they still see completely functioning like those non depressed people. I’m a high functioning depressive, obscuring its symptoms with a mix of meds and talking to my doctor. 

Talking to my closest ones could provide a sense of relief and be the first step to get the support that I need all this time. How will they help you if you don’t let them know what you’re going through? So I told him eventually by sending a long ass messages and talking on the phone whilst trying not to shed a tear. I’m glad that he understands. And to my surprise, he’s quite supportive, considering he used to be such an asshole. Maybe I should’ve told him earlier so it could lessen the damage. He said so, but then again, it’s hard to talk about it. However, I’m glad I finally did.

I know it’s weird how I wrote everything on my blog and he didn’t even know about it until that night. I didn’t tell many people about this blog, though. I used to think it’s embarrassing to let a lot of people take a peek at all this mess, to read what I truly feel inside because the reason I write is just to get all burden off my chest, not because I want people to read it. But now I don’t think I have to hide it because my friends need to know why sometimes I seem so distant from them. They need to know why I often disappear for a few days or weeks and then pop back out of nowhere. Maybe it can help those who feel the same thing to open up, and to get the support they need. No need to feel shame, you’re not the only one tripping down into the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety. Let’s open up and get the support that we need.

You’re Different From Other Women vs. You’re Just Like Other Women

Sometimes I wonder how quick someone could go from saying “you’re different from other women” to “you’re just like other women” while in reality you don’t even change anything of yourself, not even one bit from the last time he said it as a way to compliment you.

Wait, is that even a legit compliment? And I’m still confused with why being told “you’re just like other women” is threatening and heart-wrenching for some of us women?

Years ago when someone told me I was different or better than other women, I used to put a smile, I felt superior, and I took that as a compliment. I was so excited about this validation, so ready to succumb to the internalized sexism that made me compare myself to other women in the first place. But that was before I realized that the person who told me this was basically holding the stereotypes of how women should/shouldn’t be and things they believe women could/couldn’t be. It made me feel as though I was in the middle of competition with other women to win man’s approval. “kamu beda ya, anteng, engga kayak cewek lain yang cerewet dan bikin pusing” “kamu terbuka banget ya pola pikirnya, ga jaim, ga malu ngomongin hal kaya gini, gak kayak perempuan lain yang sok-sok polos padahal kelakuannya ancur”. I do love compliments. I admit it. I don’t want to be naive, though. But keep in mind that you don’t have to disparage other women just to make me feel better than them.

“Different from other women” creates entitlement for women to judge other women’s decisions. It means he doesn’t see her as an individual person but rather as a representative of her gender, who must somehow prove that she is above all the stereotypes he buys into. It is used as a way for all genders to make themselves feel like they are above all others, and that women must compete with each other for male attention and approval. Well, I know this is a tricky situation, so context very matters and well plays into this a lot.

It’s not just about gender, though. “you’re so funny” is a compliment, but when you’re saying it out of surprise because a woman could be so funny, you’re just saying you think women aren’t funny. “you’re so beautiful” is a compliment, until you’re saying it to a lesbian because you’re surprised to find out that a lesbian could be so pretty. Saying “you’re so handsome” alone is a compliment, but saying “you’re too handsome to be a gay” is not a compliment. It’s pretty much dismissing their entire group. It’s pretty much saying that gay are supposed to be everything but handsome. It’s fine for you to think someone is great in a special way, as long as it doesn’t entail dismissing the value of an entire identity of group that they belong to. Next time you think “wow, you’re so [insert nice things here] for a [insert marginalized identity here]” – keep it to yourself.

Back then, when someone told me “you’re so different”, I had this weird yet familiar fear that as soon as I showed vulnerability or break out of the norm, you’d devalue me like all the other women out there you’ve dismissed as “the same”. But then I thought, apa makna kata “perempuan lain” dalam kalimat “kamu beda dari perempuan lain” ataupun dalam kalimat “kamu sama aja kaya perempuan lain” sehingga itu jadi pujian ataupun celaan/hinaan? Kalau kamu percaya bahwa disebut “kamu tuh sama aja kaya perempuan lain” adalah sebuah hinaan, berarti secara tidak langsung kamu juga mengiyakan penilaian buruk laki-laki tentang wanita. Ladies and gentlement ini udah tahun 2017, women should have each other’s back instead of compete with one another just for the sake of men’s approval. Oh god, we’re great with or without anyone’s approval.

All I know to be true is that other women are some of the bravest, most inspiring, amazing, and stunning people I know, and I want to be like them. Don’t compliment me by demeaning other woman, and I don’t mind to be like other women. I’m happy and even very proud of that. I’m proud of whatever makes me, me. Even if means I’m not different from other woman. I’m proud of how full of anxiety, insecurity, awkward, loud, ugly, beautiful, funny, boring, smart, confident, open-minded, sok polos, shy, depressed, multi-dimensional, and just-like-other-women I am.