We all do it to some extent…. shield portions of our lives from people, hide our feelings so we can continue on without dealing with them, compartmentalizing portions of ourselves. It makes you wonder, if you look closely, if anyone truly knows all of who we are. I do it a lot. This blog is making that collapse to some extent, and though it was a conscious decision, it’s still tough to become so open and honest.
In the days after Austin was first gone, though the world felt off balance, I still had a job to go to, a child to take care of, roles at church to fill, and a home to maintain. I shared what was going on with those closest, but really believed we’d find him soon and didn’t want to embarrass him, or concern people more than ‘necessary’ if possible. So I told those I had to tell, and kept most of it inside. We started catching some media breaks and soon word was out, once our faces and his face was on the news asking for help. But yet I downplayed it, and tried not to ask friends for help, though many stepped forward regardless. But yet I continued to say “I’m fine” and go on about my days. I never even took a day off from work. My mom was also trying to work remotely, displaced from her home to be near where Austin last was. I would come home in the evenings and she would finish whatever project she was on (often work, often search related things) and we’d start putting out fliers, drive through areas Austin frequented, or even drive to nearby towns of possible sightings. The whole time, my husband was also working and picking up the slack with our son and home.
As there have been less and less things we could do on a daily basis to search for Austin, my mention of him has been less and less. What do I say? I don’t exactly feel like I should tell random people I meet, or even people who become friends about this part of our life. I don’t want to be pitied, I don’t want to have to share my feelings, and I most certainly would never risk someone seeing me cry.
But wait…. isn’t that what I wish Austin would have done? I wish he had told us, been willing to open himself up to sharing what was going on in his life. His fears, his pains, his whole life, not just the portions that sounded nice and he thought we wanted to hear.
I’ll probably never be the person who cries in public, or gets past the habit of answering “great” to the polite questions always asked about how we’re doing. But I do want to be the person who can open up and share her thoughts and feelings here, getting one step closer to being real. That’s what God challenges us, to live life together in community, to be real with each other. I’m thankful for a relatively small group of people that I have been real with, people who sometimes push me there even when I don’t want to.
I wish Austin had felt like he had that.