I haven’t done a musings article in a while and I know I don’t blog as much as I should these days. But I try to publish when there is something or someone I feel I want to talk to you about. I could go on about anything and nothing but I’ll leave that up to someone else. I prefer to come to you when something juicy or poignant is in my scope. I’m not sure about you, but I have tuned out many of the personalities who are trying too hard to be chameleons. You were an awkward young gamer and now you’re an older, equally awkward cook? The cuteness is wearing off, but somehow the onesie pajamas stayed.. I’ll just shake my head and move on. There is another post to do there, perhaps. Enough wine and I can do it!
But, don’t let me digress off of the topic that brought me here. 2016 was a very odd year for many of us. I know there were some terrific moments for each of us personally, publicly, privately, individually, and collectively but overall it seems to have left a bad taste in our mouths. What does that have to do with the title I chose for this post? Glad you asked, I’m getting there. In all that was going on in the news, with my family, with friends, and with myself, I began to notice a few things. Even though we have become SO much more social and socially aware, many of us are still so guarded with our feelings, emotions, and circumstances. So much so, that we can’t even articulate some of this to those closest to us.
I’m not advocating that we give up privacy and post all of our trials, tribulations, feelings, and emotions. NO WAY. There is something to be said for privacy, personal space, and keeping most aspects of our personal relationships to ourselves. What I’m seeing is that even with people who are close to us (family, friends, people in our innermost circles) we are still a bit stifled when it comes to expression, especially if we think it will make us look weak or we think it may cause judgment. Where does this come from? I believe it is something we are taught growing up. Especially for men, showing emotions or vulnerability is oftentimes equated with weakness, behavior that makes you less of a man, or something you should be ashamed of.
It can also come from our own personal experiences. When you trust people a number of times and get burned, you definitely and understandably become guarded. Fear keeps you from reaching out, sharing, unburdening yourself of the things that are weighing you down.
The fear that if I tell you this thing that troubles me or the feelings I am feeling, this thing that scares the crap out of me, you will think less of me. We believe people won’t want to be around us or have us in their lives. We think the people we call friends or loved ones will abandon us because we are bad, weird, odd, troubled, tortured, weak. Maybe we think they will think we are too much work when in reality, if they love us, they are already thinking we are worth the effort.
In my experience, most times the thing that is crippling us more than the actual secret we keep is the fear of the reaction to our story or our feelings. If someone truly cares about you, no story you tell them will make you repulsive or undesirable to them, nothing you are feeling will be discounted by them. In cases where people have trusted me with their “thing” (and everyone has a “thing”) it has endeared them to me even more. When someone entrusts you with the very story or feelings that make them feel most impotent, it is a powerful moment between the two of you. I respect those friends who have pushed past that hurdle to speak their truth. I’ve watched them as they struggled with the words, looking at me for reaction because they just knew I’d shudder and then make an excuse to leave so I can get far away from them. They expect you’d never speak to them again. BUT, for me, it has had the opposite affect. I love them even more, I admire and respect them, I hold them in the highest esteem.
Unless you are going to tell me you have bodies hidden in places or you’ve tortured people in your past, I really don’t think there are many things I can’t handle hearing. I don’t think there are many hurdles that friends can’t help friends overcome. The sad part is, what I see and feel so often now, people are walking around with these things bottled up inside like their world will end if they give it a voice.
I think some friendships are actually lost because of a fear that a person can’t handle us at our raw, unfiltered base. Eventually, we start to push the people who care about us most away and sometimes we even realize we are doing it. It’s SO contradictory to say or think that someone we know cares for us deeply wouldn’t be able to handle this or do everything in their power to understand where we are coming from.
Again, I am not talking about posting such things on our Facebook pages, blogging about it, or tweeting it up, but I am hoping we can find a way to break through to the trust we need to have between the select few we hold dear because we know they are the real deal. I think it’s worth a shot even though the thought of it can be crippling. Opening up, learning the art of leaning on another human being, can be horrific if you think about it too much. Especially if you’ve trusted, leaned, and were left to fall. But even in those instances, we were taught that those people weren’t the lifers who will stand by us. We were given the opportunity to let them go or perhaps keep them around in a different capacity. Not everyone is meant to share burdens and that’s ok too. But no one is meant to carry burdens alone.
The other part of this is that when we get burned, we may allow the experience to cause us to unjustly judge someone else without giving them a proper chance to prove themselves. I don’t think everyone has the gift of empathy or knows how to tap into it but as someone who has experience with it, I can tell you that knowing someone is troubled who won’t share it with you can be a little distracting. This takes time to work through so that the empathic one can get past the elephant in the room and remain close to the friend, lover, or family member until they come around.
Have any of you experienced what I am talking about from either end? Have you been the one who knows something is up and is wishing the other person would trust you? Have you been the person who thinks someone is going to run screaming if you tell them your own secret? Have you trusted someone only to learn they weren’t the person you should have opened up to?
What advice would you give someone on either side of the situation?
Or are you of the mind that we should just keep it bottle up and maybe we don’t need to be so open and connected?
I’m curious to see where our enlightenment is headed. I’m hoping it opens us up enough that we can begin to remove the stigmas we’ve created around certain experiences that are becoming more common. Anxiety and depression are two things I can think of that still seem to be issues that shouldn’t be. I have a feeling if we were made to feel comfortable to talk freely about them, we’d find out almost everyone has experiences that are similar and uniting instead of dividing. I’m hoping 2017 is about broadening our knowledge of the situations other people are in and building bridges that give support to them rather than causing them to feel they need to stay isolated when it comes to certain topics.
Anyway, that’s what has been weighing on my mind for a better part of 2016. What are some topics that were weighing on your mind throughout the year? That still have you thinking?
It takes real courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable and any person worth your time should admire you for that. My hope is that we take time to have conversations with each other that go deeper than the usual pleasantries. That we find people who we can truly trust and that we are those people to someone. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to lean on someone and know that they got you and it is an equally wonderful feeling to be that person for someone else. Let’s learn the art of leaning………