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.