flan·nel | \ ˈfla-nᵊl \
1a: a soft twilled wool or worsted fabric with a loose texture and a slightly napped surface
b: a napped cotton fabric of soft yarns simulating the texture of wool flannel
c: a stout cotton fabric usually napped on one side
I have always loved analogies. Many years ago, when I was a dental hygienist, I often used the analogy of a banana to explain gum disease to my patients. This, of course, has nothing to do with my current story, it just proves that I have loved analogies for a long time. Just in case you thought I was lying.
Anyway, one day I was thinking about speaking one’s truth, even when it is different than the truths that others are speaking. For example, when I was a young woman, beer commercials told us everything we needed to know about how to be happy. We should be at a party, in our bathing suits, doing athletic things if you were a guy, and smiling adoringly if you were a woman. And of course, drinking beer. Well, I have never liked beer. Or standing around in my bathing suit. Or looking adoringly at men while staying silent. Beer commercials didn’t work for me, but at the time I didn’t have the words to say it. I just tried (and failed) to like beer.
Anyone living with an anxiety disorder is often living a truth much different than what we see on TV, in the movies, or on social media. We are, at our essence, counterculture. And that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with swimming against the current. Ask any salmon. And there is nothing wrong with speaking out and letting our truth be heard. That is what leads to understanding and acceptance.
I wrote the following a few years ago and posted it on my blog. It’s an analogy of course, all about speaking our truth. But with flannel nighties. I really loved my flannel nighties when I was a kid.
Say you are born into a world where everyone sleeps naked. People everywhere are sprawled blissfully on their beds, relishing the feel of cool sheets on their body. Rising in the morning and tramping unencumbered to the bathroom for their morning pee. Stretching their arms wide in a yawn, then contentedly scratching their belly. And you do it too, but in the back of your mind, you have this idea for something that you call a flannel nightie, and you think that if you just had one of those, you might enjoy your sleep a little bit more. You wonder what everyone else knows about sleeping naked that you don’t know, because you just don’t seem to enjoy it as much as them. After all, flannel is so cozy, and nakedness is just so…well…naked. Are you missing something?
So you start to talk about this idea of flannel nighties, but people look at you as if you have three heads. ‘Are you crazy?’ they say. ‘Why would you ever want to wear clothes to bed?’
Secretly though, you buy some flannel, and you make yourself a nightie. You wear it to bed, and OH MY GOD this is the best thing ever! You sleep like a baby! You wake up refreshed!
And you keep it a secret, because you’re tired of people looking at you like you have three heads.
And as the years go on, and you get a collection of flannel nighties, you come to realize that there must be others who might like them. You just can’t be the only one. So you start talking about flannel nighties again. And when you get that look, you ignore it. You just keep talking.
And one day, a person walks up to you with that look of recognition on their face that lets you know, that they, too, have spent their life wondering what the big deal is with this naked sleeping. They, too, have been craving something more. And you have just given it a name.