Today I ran home for lunch thinking I would do a short video review of the novel I just finished listening to. I was so excited. The house was empty and I could just turn on the camera and talk for a bit.
But the house wasn’t empty. My daughter was home, in between classes and work, and taking a nap in her room. Okay, I thought, she’s napping I can still record. Right?
Staring at the camera, ready to speak, I froze. This isn’t unusual for me. I almost always freeze in front of a camera unless I’m talking to friends. I’ve managed to do a couple of videos on my own, but they are rare, and they always make me feel self conscious. Sometimes, like today, worse then others.
As I left to drive back to my office I wondered why. Why is it so difficult to just talk to the camera. Is it the big eye starting at me? Is it the fact someone might see my face and hear my voice and judge me because of it?
I do hate my voice. I think it sounds high and squeaky, like a little girls voice, and I hate it. I hate seeing my face on the computer. I can’t even watch my podcast because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I don’t think it was any of those things.
Honestly, driving away from my home and thinking really hard about it, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that my daughter, in the next room, would hear me. Embarrassed that someone I knew face to face would see me stumbling over my words. Embarrassed that I would even think someone would want to hear what I had to say.
Writing and publishing is easy. I put my work up and if someone wants to read it they will. I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t have to feel embarrassed because they are choosing to seek it out and view it. Some part of me knows it’s the same with videos and at the same time… I don’t believe that.
Worse, I know where this comes from.
I never learned the art of making friends. It’s even harder to keep them. A huge part of this was my marriage. My boyfriend calls me Rapunzel as I was kept in a tower, away from everyone for most of my life.
Before marriage we lived in a little plot of land far from anyone else. My parents were usually away and the only company had were my three sisters who I did not get along with. So I spent most of my time reading. Even at school.
After my marriage I started having children. I tried to make friends, but I didn’t know how. I was shy, and scared. Honestly I don’t even know how I got married except that after several women cheated on him he finally picked me because I couldn’t cheat on him. I didn’t have friends.
One day, many years into my marriage, I told my husband how frustrated I was with it. I was loanly, and he was gone a lot. Why couldn’t I come hang out with him and his friends?
“They think you’re a bitch,” he said.
“Because you left the room to go watch cartoons with the children and never said a word.”
“But they were smoking. You know I can’t breath smoke, I just start coughing and can’t breath. I thought it says more polite to quietly excuse myself than make a fuss. Why didn’t you explain?”
He never explained. He never encouraged me to make friends. In fact it was just the opposite. There were excuses of why I couldn’t go out. Accusations of the few friends I had saying and doing things behind my back. Lack of transportation. Lack of phone. Lack of money.
So I spent my time, locked in the tower with my books.
When you’ve been locked in the tower for so long the outside starts to look scary. You are told people are out to get you, steal your man, use you and throw you away. You’re afraid. But the tower is safe. The books are good. And everything is okay.
I look outside and I want so badly to be happy and healthy and have friends. I want to call someone up and say “let’s go to the movies” or get coffee or just go to the zoo. I want that so much, and every time I try I… I want to cry.
It’s easy to stay in the tower. And so hard at the same time.
The camera, staring at me with its unblinking eye, is a window to the outside. A path out of my tower.
But I will keep trying. Keep pushing that button. Keep crying. Eventually, someday, maybe I can break free of this tower.