*** This piece was one of a slew (I googled "synonyms of slew" so-as not to use that word and what came up was synonyms for slay because slew is past tense for slay? I'm keeping slew.) of posts which I never published, but am coming back to belatedly publish anyway in an effort to "honor my process" ...
Thank you for your honoring of the BLAHG <3
Redundant as it feels to address the title subject (since the question of sharing / not sharing has truly pervaded the real estate of 80%+ of these posts), I revisit an abandoned writing practice (exhibit A is that this platform has been deactivated for nearly nine months now) to write about my most recent "epiphany" and upon re-reading old posts realize it is not a new epiphany in the slightest. That being said, new thoughts around the subject swirl and therefore it's worth writing down, at the least as relief to a rapid mind.
Some recent conversations in the dating realm have me confronting the fact that sharing is inexplicably difficult for me. On a few recent dates, not only was I confronted by the fact that I am noticeably withholding much about myself but also the fact that I am absolutely blanking in conversation, losing track of thoughts as if my brain is putting up walls without my consent, even when I'm feeling willing to share more.
I think sometimes (even subconsciously) I hesitate to share about myself or things that have impacted/are impacting me because I am afraid of others not accepting me and therefore, perhaps more interestingly, I am afraid that others not accepting me will impact my ability to accept myself.
This is a huge theme in my journey toward integration with therapy: realizing just how much my ability to maintain autonomous control while in relationship was (is) affected by the theology which raised me: that humans are inherently bad, and that goodness / the “right” answer exists only externally — outside of ourselves and therefore in rejection of what’s within... That only outside sources can be trusted to deem us well or not. That not being accepted or loved should at all dictate our decision to accept or love ourselves. Obviously (and if it's not obvious, I'm stating it explicitly), an ethos I no longer hold as my own.
Unraveling all of this began somewhere along the way of deconstruction and has been undeniably triggered by dating. Which makes sense.
The threat of rejection in its smallest, most ambiguous forms and therefore evermore cutting (like after dates with strangers: me perpetually ghosting just to avoid the prospect of it happening to myself) sends me recoiling into privacy like a turtle huddles back into her shell when in the slightest bit threatened outside of the only safety she knows. Is this mechanism a question of thick skin? Is the antidote truly a harder shell?
Isolation -- in this case, closer confinement, has proven time and time again to be anything but a cure. This I've known cognitively for years, known in my body for all of my life. So why am I still retreating?
With compassion I meet myself with both reason, which says, "Of course you're responding this way. It's textbook trauma response"; and unconditional love, which says, "And yet, regardless, it is allowed and acceptable to be responding in this way. Let's sit with it."
The conflicting motivations within are confusing, to say the least. I want autonomy, I want connection. I want freedom, I want security. I want the lightness of ease and I want the depth of discomfort. I want to share, and I want to withhold. Such is the "way of a woman", right? (sarcasm) Which suggests: surely it has a lot to do with power. A call with a friend reminded me that, especially as women, our ability to say no is seemingly one of our most precious assets of maintaining control, especially in more vulnerable settings. Yet what do we say, where do we hold the line, when our answer is somewhere in between yes and no?
Yesterday I stress-state cancelled a date -- hating myself for it, feeling sabotaged by myself and also trying desperately to be patient with myself -- later that night dropped an entire glass jar of autumnal harvest soup on the ground in the center of the aisle at Trader Joe's while just trying to get myself a dogdamn (*smiley*) comfort meal, then settled for granola when I got home and after pouring a bowl literally put the bag of granola in the fridge. Sigh. Sometimes our brains seem to betray us. Sometimes we can't explain why and sometimes our bodies send us lots and lots of signals that we need to just take a moment: signals that it's okay (and inevitable, whether we actively choose it or whether it's chosen against our will) that we slow down.
I'm moving lately at a turtle's pace, with everyone and most everything around me. It's counterintuitive since historically I could find myself connecting deeply with strangers and moments and milieu in a matter of minutes but right now my energy is too low to establish such rapid attachments, let alone sustain them. Actually it's lovely that we can notice these things about ourselves, creating boundaries where we need them to take care of ourselves. Things change. I will change, but being present in this moment I can only give what is sustainable; only take what is enough for me. My cup runneth not over. I need a drink first. <3