The one thing my mother always told me when I was a little girl was that I was “too sensitive.” I knew it early on because I hated going to school because I hated the feelings it seemed to stir in me. I was never carefree. I never stopped worrying. It was only later that I learned how to turn that sensitivity, or whatever the hell it was, around to good things it could do – like the ability to throw my head back with laughter – to laugh with abandon is, I’ve come to find, a rarity. I learned how to laugh from my mother whose own emotions get the better of her most days. She can turn on a flash from being wildly giddy with laughter to being angry enough to throw something, slam something or smash something, to being upset enough to audibly ugly cry while watching something on TV. Despite her irritation with what she considered to be my weakness, my own mother, god love her, is overly sensitive too.
People like me turn to drugs or drink. People like me overeat into oblivion, or throw it all up later. People like me watch TV. People like me stay in unhappy marriages because it is so much better than the alternative, being deserted and alone. People like me turn to sex to stay present and attended to. People like me adopt a lot of cats. People like me cry late into the night, holding onto some kind of pain that somehow keeps from facing truths.
And yet, it’s so much harder to just face the day: stone cold sober, ready for honest interaction with self and others. And all of this would be greatly possible, all of it would be kind of easy, were it not for the internet — because the internet holds too much information. And that information can send you down a rabbit hole or two and it can bring back into your life stuff that has no business being there. You can find almost anything you want to find if you know how to look. And it’s best not to look. But when you find yourself making that decision to start typing names into google — and you start reading little bits of clues people have inadvertently left behind – that’s when the internet becomes your enemy. That’s when it’s time to close the computer and concentrate on something else – reading, gardening, pilates…
I have to wonder, though, is my own sensitivity playing into this? Are regular people out there able to juggle past and present more easily? Do they just not go looking for stuff that’s not meant to be found? I sort of wish there was a way to erase it all so that it just wasn’t there anymore. But it’s there. Unless you’re a person who steadfastly deletes your history as you go so that there is no paper trail anywhere, no online footprint, you will be found out if someone goes looking. And the funny part is, you don’t even know when you write that stuff down who you might meet later who might find it.
As for me, I’m slowly working my way around the notion that life offline is a whole lot better than life online. That is probably how I will start to proceed for the next few years of my life, after almost fifteen years living through words tapped out on a screen, so full, so empty.