The Worst Part of “Getting to Know You”


So there’s something awful about getting to know me, especially if you’re a tender hearted person.  It’s this: At some point I’ll have to tell you my backstory and I’m nearly 100% sure that doing so will hurt more for you than it will for me.

I’m used to telling this story, you’re just not used to hearing it.  My story flies in the face of everything you’ve assumed to be true about me through our interactions.

Online it seems to be a little less dramatic (I’ve rolled out the three major blows of my life here, here and here) but this could very well be because you’re on the other side of the screen and have time to compose and comment, or not.

When people meet me in person, their first impression is usually that I’m a talkative, upbeat, bubbly mother of two who’s good for a laugh.

Then, at some point, the conversation usually has to take a turn, usually not the first time we meet.

It starts with someone asking about my parents, here, I’ll just dialog it for you.

New Friend: “Hey, so do you parents live in the area?”
Me: (Deep Breath because, we’re doing this now) “Well, they did but they’ve passed away.”
New Friend: “Oh my God, I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to….”
Me: “It’s okay, really, it’s not news to me, talking about it is okay.  I blog, I do it all the time, I’m really open about it.”
New Friend: “May I ask how they passed away?”
Me: “Sure, Uh so, my Dad had a massive heart attack and we didn’t know he was even sick.  My mom found him gone in his office chair the next morning when she went to file something.  Then she took her life about 5 years later.”
New Friend: “OH MY GOD, I am so sorry.  That’s so awful.  I’m sorry.”
Me: ” Really, it’s okay.  I’m sorry to lay all this on you.”
New Friend: “I’m okay.  Just, wow.”
Me: “Yeah.  I’m sorry.”
New Friend: “So do you have brothers and sisters?”
Me: ” I do, my brother is in the Army, stationed in Kansas and my sister lives on the other side of the state.  She lives in a home after a car/train accident.”
New Friend: “Holy crap!  I’m sorry.”
Me: “It’s okay, remember, it’s not news to me.  I’m okay, I mean sometimes it’s hard obviously, but right now I’m fine.  Let’s go sit down, you look pale.”

Seriously this is not an exaggeration.  When I tell people my backstory I end up comforting them about it and you know what?  I don’t mind.  I get it, it’s a lot to take in all at once.

It makes people feel really bad for me, and I love that they care but I hate this part of getting to know you.  It makes me feel like the friendship Debbie Downer and I can’t help it, my other option is to lie about it and hide it and no, that’s not a real choice.

I hate hurting you with my story, so, I’ve learned to do it in a really light, upbeat way.  Not because it’s an easy story but because I’m not ready to talk to you about how bad it hurt and sometimes still hurts.

But I can tell you the truth about what happened, it’s a place to start getting real.  Okay, really real.

The truth is that there are some people out there with terrible stories who have healed up and are living healthy lives (with the assistance of a lot of therapy and books and pie and new shoes)

I am one of those people.

I’m not being fake and I’m not talking about it to be dramatic or to get attention.  I’m telling this story to point to the very real ways in which God sustains us, I do what I do for hope’s sake.

I stand and tell this story so you may believe that when it all falls down in your life that God will sustain and you can sail on.  Because you can.

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  • Mark Allman


    You said “The truth is that there are some people out there with terrible stories who have healed up and are living healthy lives (with the assistance of a lot of therapy and books and pie and new shoes)

    I am one of those people.” …… I am glad you are.

    I read recently about something I had not heard of before and that is Kintsugi. It is a Japanese art form where they repair broken pottery with a resin sprinkled with gold and in some ways the pottery is considered better than before it was broken. I think God does this with our broken souls. We can be better than we were before we were broken.

  • Daniel McDonald

    Thank you Leanne. My Dad was struggling with terminal cancer when his sister died and my mom had a heart attack. Later after my father passed away my sister discovered, in the basement a shotgun my father had rigged up to shoot himself, but he never quite did it. I know there are people that need to know there is healing, and I hope also the fact that I never had to go through all the questions one has to ask when a loved one takes their lives will encourage people near that decision to be able to lean on and talk with loved ones, rather than leave them these hard memories, and may we all strive to be the ones they know they can talk to during those seasons when life appears unlivable.

  • Sarah

    Thanks Leanne. I’m struggling with this now, having moved to a new place. Four months in and though I have met many, wonderful people, but I think only three new folks know about my mom, people outside of my support group anyway. I sure haven’t found a good way yet to ease people in. I want is to be genuine and transparent, not to seek pity, so when is the moment right?