I wholeheartedly believe in vulnerability; without it, real relationships and connections would not survive, at least not for very long. Yet since returning from spring break I’ve discovered something new about myself:
When I’m going through a rough patch, there are times where I just don’t want to talk about it. It could last anywhere from a couple of days to more than that, depending on the circumstances and who or what surrounds them. But yes, despite my love of words and the fact that I have a passion for sharing my heart, I do have moments where it feels better to keep to myself then to open up the floodgates and become an emotional waterfall.
On the surface it looks like I’m shutting people out, but that is not my intention at all. When I get really angry or upset about a specific situation, I run the risk of desperately venting and therefore saying things that I would not be able to take back. As much as I don’t like giving in to anger, it does run in my family and it’s often coupled with the fear of becoming a doormat and being taken advantage of. So instead of walking a fine line of doing major damage, I would rather process it in writing or in prayer first before I say it out loud.
The other aspect is that if I talk about a particular matter a lot, there’s also a chance that my emotional well-being will still snowball: by talking about it, I end up thinking about it. And when I think too much, it becomes so overwhelming where my mind starts to go numb because I can’t take it anymore. Then I get tired of sitting there and not being able to do anything, which makes me irritated that I’m wasting time sitting in what I can’t change. Eventually, it becomes a tug of war between wanting to embracing where I am and shoving all of this garbage aside.
I don’t want to constantly be saturated in negative emotions when I could be experiencing happiness and joy. I don’t want every conversation and every interaction to be centered on the stress and/or bullshit going on in our lives. I want to make memories filled with laughter, beauty, and being in the present moment. In other words, spending quality time with those that bring a smile to my face (and vice versa) often make the burden so much lighter than crying on somebody’s shoulder more often than not. I’m not saying ignore reality and pretend that it isn’t happening, but at what point does a person let go and focus his or her energy elsewhere? I’d like to think that it comes in waves, but there’s a difference between being hit by a wave and actively swimming in it.
Being vulnerable in whatever context can be exhausting. And I do have a limit where I get tired of being tired. That’s why I choose not to blog every single day or even every week. It’s why I’m not heavily involved in social causes or am majoring in psychology; it's difficult to emotionally separate myself from that kind of stuff. Being angry, sad, etc becomes draining. I’m trying to develop a filter, a way of letting various things go in one ear and out the other. But I feel rather deeply, and my heart does break for people and matters that I'm passionate about. It’s the way I am and I’ve given up trying to deny that.
On the other side of the matter, I’m well aware of the consequences in terms of trying to always hold myself together and be strong on a regular basis. I have self-medicated with alcohol, men that weren’t good for me, and overall denial. I convinced myself that my feelings didn’t matter. When putting it perspective I can recognize how big of a lie that really is, but sometimes I slip back into old patterns. This is especially true when something triggers an automatic reaction; generally speaking, being smacked in the face by reality.
So then what do you do when choosing when one side or the other doesn’t work? Where’s the middle ground?
As much as I enjoy self-expression through writing, I know deep down that just sharing a blog through social media and hoping someone will figure it out is not a good way to communicate. That and texting is a poor substitute for real conversation, where you look somebody in the eye and get to actually connect with them. But when I don’t know how to describe what exactly it is that I’m going through, it’s better for me to be given a hug.
To be blunt about it…damn it, I just want to be held.
Next to quality time, physical touch is very important to me. Within churches and various books, these concepts are commonly referred to as Love Languages. When my friend passed away last summer, I wanted someone to just put their arms around me and let me bawl my eyes out, because I was not able to verbally grieve or reminisce right when it happened. I finally had the opportunity with the most unlikely person, but I hated feeling so far away from my closest friends. I was scared to tell them what I needed because I didn’t want to be told no, as had been done when a family member on my Dad’s side passed away during my freshman year. Now I know that not everybody is like that, but it’s one of those moments that has stayed with me to this very day. That’s how I’ve learned just how important it is to ask instead of assume, on both ends. When you think you can’t do a whole lot for the other person, chances are you’re doing more than enough. The smallest of gestures are what often leave the biggest footprints.
When all is said and done, I don’t want or expect anybody to hold my hand. It would just be nice to be reassured, “hey, we’re with you in this…till the end.”
Right now I’m going through two transitions at once, both which have a profound impact on me. I have my own life to live, and I realize that it’s not my responsibility to ensure that shit doesn’t hit the fan, especially where my family is concerned. But the shame still surfaces at times. I’m still learning what it means to be independent without being totally self-reliant. To put my identity in my Creator while still letting friends and loved ones be there when I’m struggling or in pain. More than anything, I’m learning how to just put my armor down and simply be who I am, not who I think I should be. Even if some don’t agree with it.
I am so grateful for those that have held me up and supported me through all of this; for those that talked and prayed with me over the phone, ultimately calming me down and helping me to gain a broader perspective. For those who were patient with me when I lashed out or focused on not being pushed around instead of being loving. For those willing to let me break down and cry in front of them, while encouraging me to start seeing my therapist again and even sit with me through a session if needed. For those willing to take care of me and stick up for me when I feel like I've been backed into a corner. And also, for those who continue to speak truth into my life, even when it's hard to hear.
And thank you Lord, for helping me grow.
photo credit: ValetheKid via photopin cc