Post-party musings

I have a fear. It’s of opening up too much. Or too little. But that contradiction seems in keeping with the paradoxes shared at the party tonight.

Before tonight I could have easily named the people in my life that I would really open up to.
The list would have been short, not because the majority of my friends are superficial, but because I tend to sit back and listen rather than tell about myself. People have never hesitated to pour out their hearts and life stories to me, but if asked about myself I tend to smile and give just enough of an answer to satisfy curiosity. Why? My first thought is that they wouldn’t really want to know anyway. My second thought is that I don’t want to think about it myself. Am I running from deep thought? I crave it, and I crave the connection that comes from sharing it, but I’m afraid of that connection as well.

I was warned before I joined the Writing Center family that my walls would come down. I was ready. I was excited. I had no idea it would happen so quickly. Within two weeks I find myself sharing my biggest fear with an entire room full of people? At least I had two weeks; Nathan had two days.

I know I am not the only one who struggled to select one biggest fear, just one to dig to the heart of and lay before the group. I skimmed lightly over the tops of several, finally settling on one and proceeding to share it, but as soon as I had finished I wondered: had I picked the right one? Was it really the biggest, the most pressing? Or was there another fear I would have benefited more from sharing and dissecting?

Then a beautiful thing happened: as we continued around the circle my other fears were brought up one by one. Inadequacy. Attachment, or lack thereof. Having to be the strong one. And on and on. It was as though the entire group was a mirror, reflecting my own struggles and giving me insight into myself through the eyes of someone else.

As I stated earlier, I have a fear of opening up too little. I need to feel that connection. But my need to feel safe is more urgent, so I hold back, offering small and often ambiguous tastes of my thoughts to those friends I feel could rise to the challenge of interpreting them. Some do, others don’t care; either way I’m safe, because I haven’t given enough of myself to be hurt. But tonight I was able to share with people I had never tested—and I felt safe. Another paradox to add to our list.



Sky said...

Beautifully written, Shannon. I felt much the same way. When others we barely know choose to trust us (a very courageous act)and speak honestly from the heart--caring more about being honest than other's response to them, something magical happens.After everyone had a turn last night, I looked around and realized we were sitting in the company of Gods and Goddesses. People I barely knew seemed so familiar, as if we'd spent much time together somewhere else before we came here. I knew you. The closeness of those moments would have taken another two months of working together to even approach. I agree it's scary to be oneself, but honest, sincere ownership of who we are allows others to just "be" also. What a gift to others you gave when you opened up, and we caught a glimpse of who you really are. There were sacred moments here and there last night and stood on holy ground. I'm proud of your courage and very proud to know you.

Sky said...

Shameful. I left out a "we" in "we stood on holy ground." Remind me to proofread before I post. Ivor's going to love the mistake, since I get after him about this. But, Ivor, I have an excuse. I'm rushing to meet H. for movie, but couldn't resist posting after reading such beautiful writing. We'll call it even?

Crystal said...

I'm slightly paranoid about writing on here, now that I know people actually read what you write. But maybe no one will actually read this; I can always hope.

I know how you feel - I want to be open, but I rarely am. I do the same thing in conversations - smile, gloss out an answer, and turn the topic to something else. I tend to skip over or around serious matters. Sometimes I think - fine, I know - that I'm afraid to be who I am. Does anyone even care that I'm not really here? Does it matter? And the sad thing is, if I was ever brave enough to really BE who I am, I'm not really sure how - I'm not sure who I am.
Anyway. I don't know if that actually made sense.
But it's nice to know that other people have a hard time opening up, and second guess themselves.

(Part of me just wants to delete all of this, but I guess it's not really fair to read other people's thoughts and not share some of my own in return. Not that my thoughts are that profound.)

Sky said...

Crystal, I think it's interesting that many of us feel the same way, but I've always wondered what we're turning from? Why do we keep a gloss over who we are and turn--especially just at the moment a connection with another person is about to happen. Yet, if we really looked deeply, we'd see that "connections" with other human beings is what we all want. We don't want to live apart because we're used to living in a close family like we did in the Pre-existtence. But, I think you've hit on a truth here. If others really see through our constantly shifting disguises, we feel there may be nothing there worth seeing. But, ... this is an impossibility since we are the daughters (and sons) of a God.It's a lie. We have for our true father someone who is a God. So it's not possible that we are nothing, nor is it possible that we have not been growing forever. Then, I always ask myself, what is the fear? And where did it come from? I think for each person there may be a unique set of circumstances or reasons why it's shaky and scary to relax and just be who we are. This may be something to look at. I love your statement "I want to be open, but I rarely am," then you go into specific detail and show us what you do at that moment of deciding NOT to open. But, because you want it, you're walking the right path. It'll happen. In fact, I'm going to predict it may become a passion for you to practice being open, even though, for awhile, it may be so uncomfortable that it'll feel like a thousand sharp knifes are flying straight for your heart.As I see it though, we have no alternative. We can't build cement around us because the gospel says we try to do the opposite--darn.

Crystal said...

I tried to be open earlier this week with a couple of friends - it was so hard. It wasn't so much that I couldn't admit the truth to them, but that I couldn't admit the truth to myself. Perhaps that's my biggest problem - not with opening myself to others, but simply opening myself to myself.
Now there's a delightfully irritating paradox.