My friend Kent once pointed out that I live behind an impenetrable wall of my own making, and I was surprised. I’ve always known it, but didn’t realize it was visible to others. Maybe it’s only visible to folks who know me well, and care to see it. Or care to try to get behind it.

Another friend acknowledges that he lives behind a similar wall. I believe we can attribute their existence to our mothers being alcoholics; we created the wall to hide our true selves from the world because we don’t believe folks will like what they see (our mothers didn’t seem to). And behind our little walls (or ginormous walls, perhaps), we’re safe. If I don’t show you how I really feel, you can’t hurt me.

Anyway, I have believed in the past that I let folks in. I thought I was letting down my defenses and letting folks see the real me. But tonight I had a moment of clarity, which I’ve discussed in years past. It’s that sudden flash when the heavens open, and you see all and know all. They only last for a few seconds, so when they occur I quickly throw all of my “big” questions at that bright gaping hole in the clouds, and listen carefully to the answers. And am always amazed at what comes back to me.

And today I was hit by a lightning bolt. I was texting a friend with whom I have a complicated relationship. This friend unknowingly hurt me, and I was trying to get across that point without actually saying it. I made sly remarks and funny comments, and ended the conversation without saying what I felt. They have no clue they hurt me, because I didn’t tell them. And realized I do that all of the time. It’s too scary to say “I care about you” or “you hurt me” or “I’m angry with you.” It’s easier to make a joke of it – although I always hope the person will figure it out and apologize, or ask what’s wrong, or explain their behavior.

But they never do. Most likely because they have NO clue that I’m hurt, upset, angry, or care. Because I didn’t say it. I made a joke instead, a cute comment that had no substance, and carried no risk.

This fellow wall-dweller and I spent years having intense discussions – through email. We never sat down and talked about sensitive subjects in person, although we kept promising we were going to. But we didn’t. Thinking about it now, I believe we’ve finally gotten to a point in our relationship where we DO discuss pretty much everything without reservation – I’m not sure how we got there, though. And, truth be told, there are still subjects we’ve never discussed, and things I’ve never said to him. But maybe they don’t matter any more. Or we already know.

Anyway, tonight it all seemed so clear. Why do I spend so much energy dancing around the truth instead of just saying it? It’d be a lot less work. And I might actually get a response – or at least a genuine discussion of the situation. What a relief it’d be to know how someone felt, or have them know how I felt, rather than wasting days/weeks/months/years hiding the truth for fear of what their response will be?

And that’s the crux of the matter. Do I have the courage to face their response?

This probably seems obvious to you, but it’s quite a revelation to me. Or not really a revelation, but possibly a commitment on my part to try to change. To take a deep breath and say what’s in my heart instead of laughing it off, side-stepping the subject, or hiding it. Maybe I’d have deeper relationships. Or maybe folks truly wouldn’t like who they saw, and I’d have to live with that.

Anyway, hopefully this week I’ll have the chance to do that. I’ll take a deep breath, and let down that wall a wee bit, and say what I feel. And maybe, just maybe, the outcome will be positive – or at least not very painful.

I’ll keep you posted.

This growing stuff (I did NOT saying growing up!) is tough.

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11 Responses to Trust

  1. Richard says:

    You mean you never noticed the mortor under my nails…?

    • Beth says:

      Ah Richard, I guess there are more of us than I realized, all coexisting quite comfortably in our own little kingdoms, where we’re king and court. And jester. Hope you emerge from time to time!

  2. Had a friend comment not all that long ago “that’s because of that mask thing you do.” It’s not quite the same thing and I’ve gotten quite good at taking it on and off, but I do completely understand what you’re saying.

    • Beth says:

      Interesting, Kelly. Mask sounds a little easier to remove, but it still needs skill to take it on and off. And to know when to use it to one’s advantage. Thanks for your input, and for letting me know I’m not alone out here – or is back here?

      • I think for me it’s probably an actor thing. To do it well you need to learn when to take out the raw bits and graft them onto the person you’re pretending to be. It makes the taking on and off simpler, but there’s no question that the mask is there most of the time.

        BTW, and completely serendipitously, Making Light is having their annual disfunctional families day thread: and it’s always an interesting discussion for those of us with some baggage. You might get something out of it if you wander over. There are links to the past versions too. 2008 is the year that I found really helpful.

        • Beth says:

          Yeah, I never was much of an actor – that’s my sister’s forte. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and never play poker. But thanks for the link – I’ve never heard of that site, and will return to check it out regularly. Here’s hoping that the baggage shrinks as we age, Kelly. Thanks, and hugs.

  3. Richard says:

    Again – a conversation one day…….

  4. Julie says:

    Profound, Beth! I think most every one of us humans put on a false bravado for others. Admittedly, some more than most. Whether there is a lackluster parent in the background, schoolmates that taunted, or friends that became traitors… always some history to add bricks to our wall-building. When fear yields its taunting head, I try to say to myself, “What’s the worst that can happen? You aren’t going to die.” (Of course, these fears being ones that aren’t physical!) I have boldly laid it out on the line to others at times. And, some people, I am better off not associating with anyway, have gone out of my life, but the ones with true caring and commitment do not run off, they stay… and we talk, and live respectful relationships with each other. They are truly stellar people.

    • Beth says:

      You are the profound one, Julie! Always taking my thoughts to a deeper level. I use the same concept when others are worrying about something that happened: did anyone die? If not, it’s not a tragedy. I guess I need to apply the same concept to myself! Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Brancy says:

    Hmmm, now you got me thinking about myself and my walls. I know I totally do that thing where I don’t confront people who have hurt me as a rule but that’s because I think I end up wounding people when I do. I know your are suppose to say “I feel bad when you say blah, blah, blah” instead of you ” you make me feel bad….” but it’s such a delicate process, I usually just skip it and tell myself I am responsible for my own feelings, get over it. In fact not to long ago when I was sharing how I felt about how I felt with a good friend, I was told just that! So, I don’t know…I just don’t know what to do or say sometimes and oft times end up reverting to the old adage, if you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything at all.

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