Hide it. Don’t let anyone see. Keep the walls up. You can’t be vulnerable. No matter how hard it is. It must not escape. Nope. Can’t. Won’t. Not today. Not ever.
Ever find yourself telling yourself things like the above? Maybe the words are slightly different, but essentially the words carry the same meaning. You know it and I know it. I have thought about writing this post for some time. In fact, years ago it would have a very different tone and outcome. No doubt about that. As I sit here, quietly shaking my head as I type this, I must also let you in on my secret. It is not one I am especially proud of but in order for me to tap into where you might be, someone has to go there first. Okay….I will go first. It might as well be me.
So here goes….deep breath…
Ever since I was little, I tucked my heart away. No one saw it. EVER. I showed no emotion whatsoever, it didn’t matter what it was. I am not really sure why — maybe because I never saw emotion so I just mimicked what I saw. I could have just received the best news ever and no one would ever be able to tell. I certainly wasn’t going to tell. Maybe it was a protection mechanism that I thought we keep me from getting hurt or maybe it was just a way to keep people unattached to me. Most likely, it was a way to keep me from getting attached to people. I kept people away. No one likes to have their heartbroken…I don’t care by whom or for what reason. It just doesn’t feel good. So what did I do with those kinds of events? I learned not to feel anything. Not even the good stuff. I didn’t celebrate a job well done or a good grade. I took it all in stride and carried on. I locked it up and forgot where I hid the key. Breaking down even in solitude didn’t happen because that would show me that I was weak and I couldn’t do that. I needed to be tough. I needed to be strong. I never let anyone in. Giving a little piece of myself away was out of the question. Why did I go to such lengths to hide something that we all do?
The truth is…I was afraid.
In some ways, I am still afraid. I think we all are.
Rejection and failure hit us hard and in places we hide from others. As much as we can give our best, sometimes our best just isn’t good enough. Just ask any doctor or nurse who has lost a patient, despite their efforts. Excitement and joy are easier to express because how many times do you hear the pitch of women go up two octaves because one of them just found out she is going to be a grandma and they all hug and cry because they celebrate good times. I would have not joined that group years ago. I would have been embarrassed to show someone …me. Even in great moments like those.
Maybe we find a way around it. Maybe we pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe we shelter it.
Do you hide your emotions?
It took a great deal of time and work to finally take down my walls. Sometimes, it was the result of others, but truthfully, I think I just couldn’t keep up the masquerade anymore. I know some very strong women who keep a lot bottled up and even though they think people can’t tell, people know. I have been asked about it because people notice, even when we think they don’t. The people who care the most are paying attention. There have been times when I was so filled with emotion that the highest dam or the strongest concrete couldn’t stop the flow of tears than ran as they escaped from their prison. I have tried to keep it together and even though the ever “shaking my head and quietly telling myself ‘no'” act works a lot of the time, sometimes, it fails too. And then, it begins. Even being afraid isn’t good enough to stop the pool welling up in the corners of my eyes.
We are taught (maybe it was just me) to be logical and rational. Emotions and feelings are not that. Women I know can drop more than a few tear drops at the drop of a hat and they have always been like that. But truthfully, I think something happens to us as we age, especially to us women. We stop fighting the ache we feel in our hearts when we connect with something on a level that is not logical or rational. It makes sense not because we are told how it works but because we feel how it works. Our souls are churned by stories of miracles, videos of military surprises, and even simple words shared in every day texts.
What have we learned by being afraid?
We have learned that a giving heart will give, even if no one sees the gift. We have learned that a hug lasts long after the touch is over. We have learned that tears make room for future ones, yet to develop. We have learned that hiding is not where we should be. We eventually learn to be real.
Life is tough and our willingness to show emotion behind closed doors, with special friends, or even in a letter we never mail, can be very uplifting. It reminds us to live and take every single thing that comes our way and to share it with people. I remember exactly where I was when I told someone that I am NEVER vulnerable. That worked for a while. Like it had for years before. But like the Berlin Wall, it would begin to crumble — not solely because of people knocking it down and trying to come in, but by me also choosing to not put anymore stones. I let them come. And whatever happens, happens.
Have you fought the battle too long? Aren’t you tired? Don’t you just want to stop? It is ok. I have been there. I know it will be uncomfortable and make you feel unsure. You may say too much (I do), but letting my heart have a voice is long overdue. Women especially connect with others emotionally and when that is shattered it can be difficult to put yourself out there again. (Speaking from first hand experience.)
But now that you have seen my true heart and everything that goes with it, it would be impossible for me to hide it ever again. This is me…tears and smiles and everything in between…and I am not afraid to share this with you. I cannot conceal it.
What do I hope you get from this? That you honestly think, “I am not alone” or “Me, too.” And that I would rather get you than a facade of you. In life you are either ALL IN or you aren’t. It’s pretty simple. See you on the other side of that wall. I will be waiting.
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©