It’s remarkable the way you know something about yourself but it’s never so real as when someone says it out loud.
I deal with those people in my life who are always “telling me about myself”, but there is something so different and so startling and so intense when someone, who has no idea what they are really hitting on, REALLY tells you about yourself. When you sit down with someone who has no intention of shaking you into reality, they are just there for conversation, for fellowship…
I know and have known for a while that I do not like talking about (or showing, except to my son) feelings, emotions, etc. I guess I thought I was making some kind of progress because I could at least talk to close friends/family about the things that go on in my life. I used to NEVER talk about what was going on, but I assumed a little bit of talking would get people off my back. I figured that was enough. I thought that is all I really needed to be able to do…apparently not. I am not saying that in some judgmental way, I am saying it in a “I thought I was getting away with something” way. I thought no one noticed that I was still allowing myself to remain silent.
In case you were wondering, this silence thing applies to the perceptibly positive, negative, or just plain honest conveyance of the internal. It applies to the gamut of emotions that a person can exhibit through direct communication. Yep, good or bad, I don’t express it. I’m awesome.
The Conversation(s). I had three conversations in one week with three different close connections about three different areas of my life and I got three same responses.
“You are a brick wall” “You are closed off” “You are so protected”
I called a few additional people and took a vote to get their take. 100% polled agreed. One individual emphatically agreed before I got the whole question out. HEARTWRENCHING. I decided that I was going to prove them all wrong; not by having an open conversation with someone, but by writing an open composition. The comedy in choosing to write is that I still found a way around an expressive engagement with someone. The sad part is that when I sat down to write, I couldn’t get past a couple sentences. The same feeling that I get when I have something to say to someone that I am afraid to say…the same feeling when I am staring at the ceiling on a phone call watching the words come out of my head while all that is coming out of my mouth is a stream of generic responses…the same feeling I get when I am in the midst of an interaction knowing that I am being stalwart and “strong”and closed off…that same feeling is what stopped me.
A few days after convo three, I went on one of my “thinking walks” that I often take during lunch at work. This time I was not thinking about decisions or responsibilities…this time I was thinking about myself. I was listening to Coldplay, some of whose songs I imagine were written with a personal knowledge of my inner workings. The lyrics to Paradise, The Scientist, In My Place, and Yellow brought out this ache. There are words out there that describe my thoughts, my feelings. Not just about other people or things that happen between myself and other people, or the world we live in, but there are words out there that describe my thought and feelings about myself. If someone else can find those words, why can’t I? Hell, if I can listen to a song and know that those lyrics are how I feel, why can’t I at least repeat the lyrics???!???!?! I asked myself “what is it?” I was really taking the time to think about why I am the way that I am. What stops me from opening up?
Every time I want to speak my mind, I feel heartbreak coming on again. Every time I want to express myself? Just heartbreak.
OUCH!!!! That stung.
That moment made me feel so damaged (quadruple UGH!!!!!!-yes, I am judging myself). Somehow I have accumulated experiences (in every different area of my life) that made me think that myself, my feelings, wants, desires, and needs didn’t matter and I have accumulated experiences that flat out hurt. Whether by direct translation or by some course of life playing itself out, I arrived at heartbreak. But that’s not the point. The point isn’t that I am terribly shy (yes, shy) and awkward ALL THE TIME (at least by my own assessment). The point is not in what contributed to my being like this. The point, the sad, “am I really this old acting like this” point is that I am silent. So silent.
And silent and non-expressive is NOT strong. I say that because, yes, I had convinced myself that I was being strong.
In any type of interaction: work, friends, family, love?like – it’s as if one day I said open is not an option. At all. Ever. It’s like I’d rather cause myself the heartache of being convinced a situation will turn out bad, than actively living the damn thing out. I’ve decided the story will end in pain, so I just close the book.
This is when I tell myself that I am a grown ass woman and to get over myself. But is it that easy? I mean, I AM forcing myself to write and publicly post about this issue, so how hard will it be to exercise openness in interpersonal situations? But is it as simple as forcing oneself?
Does the fact that instead of thinking “you can do this,” I am thinking “two martinis, a shot of tequila, no eye contact THEN you can do this” mean anything? I’m working on it. In between being a Mommy and a scientist, I am working on it.