For most people there’s a struggle between wanting to be known, and being afraid of that very thing. We all want connection, it’s natural to us, but how far we go is up to us. How much we share or edit or hide or are willing to expose our most painful places, our most absurd doubts, our perceived, or very real weaknesses. The places where we might still suffer from shame or doubt. If I share this, will I still be loved? Wanted? Understood? Do I really want to be seen in all my allness?
I’m not just speaking romantically. I’m speaking about one person knowing you all the way, whether it’s your mother, or your best friend or your partner or your sibling or your ex. Is there anyone in your life with whom you feel totally and completely safe to bare your fear and be yourself? Your real self?
A lot of people say they want intimacy, but when push comes to shove, they back out. They get nervous or they run, or use humor as a defense mechanism, because, of course, if you really let someone in, you also give them the roadmap to hurt you if they ever choose to go that route. There are few things worse between people than that kind of betrayal of trust. If you were once close to someone, and they shared their real stuff with you, in my book that is off limits forever, no matter what. You do not go for someone’s jugular. We all know where that line is. Once you speak words that land like knives, you’ve crossed a line you can’t uncross.
I understand the fear, because most of us have been heartbroken, disappointed, discarded, or surprised by the hostility or indifference of someone at one time or another. You don’t have to be hurt too many times to start to build walls around your heart. How else to keep it safe? The thing is, walls keep out the joy, too. So now you’re safe but alone. No one knows you and no one sees you, not really. And that’s not the same as living.
Sometimes people have a perception that everyone else is having this great life with these amazing friends and great job and annoyingly perfect dog to top it all off, while they are just basically sucking at everything. The truth is, most of us are blessed if we have a small group of people who truly, deeply know us and love us, and I’ll tell you, that little group is enough. I wouldn’t forsake it for all the safety in the world, because the sh&t will hit the fan whether you try to make yourself safe, or you venture boldly into the world. Be particular and take your time, but when you meet those people with whom you feel safe to be yourself completely, do it. That’s the best stuff in life, being able to look into the eyes of someone you know without having to look away because there’s not enough truth between you to hold the gaze.
See and be seen, love and be loved,
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