Y’all. I just dumped my purse ALLLLLLL over my girlfriend’s table. Metaphorically, though were it not for COVID it would have been straight up on her table and, probably, part of what I just threw down wouldn’t have existed.
Regardless, I am not writing to explain all that I told her, but instead to acknowledge that something changed in me.
For months, actually about 18 months, I have been hiding in myself. Things have been hard – really hard – and I felt uncomfortable in sharing that difficulty. I have two girlfriends who I felt I should share with, but during chats early in the pandemic I would lose control and start to dump my EVERYTHING on them. Uncontrollably. Uncomfortably. Both are also new moms. Both also have stressful family situations and problems of their own. And I couldn’t stop myself from just vomiting my problems on them both.
I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was uncomfortable with being vulnerable. So I stopped talking with them. I would text. I would check-in. But when I needed to connect most with someone outside of my incredibly small circle, I didn’t. (Instead I have been stowing the “real” stuff down into my body – you know, where it can fester and harm my mental health.)
And I wasn’t there for them. They had struggles, real struggles, and needed connection, real connection. My self-preservation tactic of putting my head down and plodding forward wasn’t serving me, or them, or anyone, at all.
It was two days ago that I decided I can’t keep this up. It wasn’t just COVID isolation that was breaking me, but that not wanting to overwhelm others was adding to the weight I was carrying. In reality, not wanting to be vulnerable, not feeling like I was worthy of real connection, is the culprit. Its easy to hide behind not wanting to add to a friend’s burden – until I realized that’s not really the situation: that’s not how I see them and their lives, problems, joys and successes. I want to listen. I want to help. And that’s when I realized I was hiding from true connection. From true friendship. Ooof.
I was hiding myself so I could control the outcome. If I manage my own biz, no one can hurt me. No one can let me down. Fuck if that isn’t an unsustainable mindset!
To be really clear, this isn’t a COVID induced problem. This was a coping mechanism long before the pandemic, although COVID definitely exacerbated the situation. I really struggle with vulnerability. Always have. When I get to know someone I send out feelers – “here’s who I really am” – and if the response is not what I hoped, well then it’s “Ha! Just kidding! Wouldn’t it be weird if I was like that?!?”
Well, it IS weird. I AM like that. I WANT to be like that. I want to be open and real. I want to be present and vulnerable. I want to be the friend that I want to have.
I want to be the me that I have always wanted to be.
So, while I wait for my girlfriend to look over ALL THE CONTENTS of my metaphorical purse, I will sit back have a cuppa tea, and be proud of myself for a moment. Evenually, the feeling of freedom at stepping of the ledge and hoping to grow wings on the way down will catch up with me. But for the this moment, this exact moment right now. I am proud of myself.
I am growing wings.
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