My annual well-woman exam is coming up, and I’m wondering if I’ll tell my doctor the truth this year.

Each year there seems to be something I find I am not willing to offer up on the intake forms, some truth that’s too hard to tell. Once I’m in the exam room and face to face with her, she probes, she inquires, she looks me in the eye as I respond and sometimes, I lie.

Why? She’s always kind, no matter how I answer her, even if my revelation is one she counsels me on. She never gasps, takes a step back, points angrily at the door and shouts, “Get out!” She’s not going to tell on me. She’s there in that room and all-in with me; focused on my health and ready, willing and able to help me improve my well-being if I need her to. That’s the whole point. The hope and desire for good health are why I placed a rare and actual phone call, spoke to the receptionist, scheduled the appointment and schlepped myself there. So why lie?

As I anticipate what I might not tell her next week, I’ve come to realize exactly why. I am not trying to keep the truth from her. I am trying to keep it from myself. If I tell her, out loud, that I have 2 or 3 drinks a day these days, that I’ve done so on too many of the last 730 days, that I know that’s way above what’s considered to be a healthy amount, I’ll be admitting that to myself too.

What if I tell her that I’ve been trying to be and do and spread big love, that I really do believe love is the only way forward no matter the past, that I know in my heart, in my gut, in my soul love will work, but that some days I just can’t? That some days, I throw open the rusted doors to find despair is the only option in my wheelhouse. I’ll be confessing all that to myself if I do.

I am aware of how much I am drinking, I am attuned to how close I am to needing to go back to counseling because I feel myself slipping away from love and beginning to follow hopelessness around instead. I do still have just the one personality, so it is the real me emptying and refilling each glass. It’s really me back on the exhausting hamster wheel of doom and gloom and “what’s it all for?” But I hesitate to tell that to my doctor, out loud, because I know it will become more of a truth, more of a reality than I’ve been letting on to myself.

And then what? The avoidance, the numbing, and the shrinking back from my life will all have to stop. That’s what. I already know it needs to stop, I already know. And I know how to stop it. I’ve spent the last two years learning how to trade in the things that hold me back for the things that launch me forward.

I know how to meditate now. How to be mindful. How to notice and observe the fraternal twins fear and fret and how to move away from them and let them go. How to find my tribe and tell our truths to each other. I know to write my story now, and to share it to heal what’s broken inside and light the fuse of healing for others at the same time. I know how to stay now. How to lean in and show up vulnerable, to embrace imperfection, to invoke grace and invite mercy. I know how to forgive and set myself and others free from our mistakes. I know not to look back because I’m not going that way, but that a quick glance is ok so I’ll remember and acknowledge how far I’ve come.

I know all that and I also know that I’m not choosing any of it lately. But if I write these truths on the forms, if I say them out loud to my doctor in that exam room, I’ll have to stop what I’ve been doing. And I wonder if I will.

Jodie Utter

Jodie Utter is a freelance writer & creator of the blog, Utter Imperfection. She calls the Pacific Northwest home and ambles about its captivating forests and breath-taking (quite literally, because brrrr) bodies of water with her husband and two children. Jodie is a voracious seeker of laughter and awkward dancer who’s tired of making dinner and can’t stay awake past nine. She works to connect pain to pain and struggle so we’ll feel less alone inside our stories and more at home in our hearts, minds, and relationships. You can connect with her on her blog, Utter Imperfection and on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.