Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tough Stuff

Lying in bed the other night, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a conversation I wouldn't have allowed myself to have a year ago. Not because it was uber controversial or super heady. I mean, we weren't discussing religion or politics. It wasn't even about fetishes. No, it was far more nefarious than that. I was speaking from my heart. Ugh. I know. How terrifying. There were even feelings involved.

All right, I'm only teasing a bit, but some of you might be sitting there thinking, "Really? I always thought you were a pretty candid lass with an impeccable way with words which is both enthralling and informative." (Wishful thinking?) Either way, yes, I often say what is on my mind, but what's in my heart is another matter.

There are a lot of things I hold close to my heart and tamp down before they have a chance to escape from between my pretty lips. Truly speaking from my heart about matters of love, trust, companionship and feelings is, to put it bluntly, a no-no. Or, at least, it always has been. The operative word being has - that's some past tensing right there. You see, writing a blog about life and love is easy. I can remain detached from it and make is as impersonal as possible. That said, verbalizing my feelings and thoughts aloud to someone I adore is another thing. My blog is an anything goes zone, everything I write here is to be taken with a grain of salt. And most posts are random musings I put down in hopes of calming the cacophony of thoughts in my head.

In my younger more jaded and cynical years, I didn't write about my feelings. And I certainly didn't talk about them. I simply wasn't that sort of girl. Actually, I was the kind of girl whose throat closed up when things got too emotional. Not even the shallowest of breaths could escape. Emotional conversations made me contemplate heading for the hills and living a life fit for Grizzly Adams. Hermiting seemed like a rational response.

It doesn't take a genius to understand why, either. I'm perfectly aware the way I grew up, the ties that bind me, have made it hard to be vulnerable. Divulging emotions, personal thoughts, desires, and hopes and dreams makes us open targets for sharp words and careless actions of others. Because, if you didn't notice, people often react without thought. As the story goes, I have spent the last couple of decades going out of my way to avoid vulnerability. Showing tears or genuine happiness was akin to peeling the skin and bones away from my heart and exposing the raw nerves to poisonous toxins and medieval weaponry. How dramatic!

You see, I grew up wanting to be strong. Hard. Unbreakable. No one was going to get past the steel box I built around my heart. I wanted to be the Ice Queen of British Columbia. I know you'll think that's a joke and it sort of is, but mostly it isn't. Raised to believe crying was a sign of weakness, I found myself determined to swallow my sadness, choke back my disappointments, remain aloof and distance myself from the abundance of feelings battering around inside me.  For many years I had an embargo on tears. I wanted to prove I wasn't a soft little girl. I wanted to be tough. 

But being tough wasn't what I assumed it would be. My version of tough was harsh. Soul damaging. It held me back in relationships, both simple friendships and the more complex romantical ones. As I fought desperately not to let anyone hurt me, I ended up hurting myself, and quite a few others along the way. To this day I have issues about being open. It still scares me. But what scares me more is missing out on important human experiences, ones I've shrugged off in the past.    

Let me explain. 

You know how nice it is to be comforted? To have someone rub your back and hold you as tight as possible. The feeling of being safe and watched out for. For someone to whisper 'everything will be okay'. That things will work themselves out. The feeling of soft kisses on your tear-streaked face. To have someone pull the sleeve of their hoodie over their hand and palm your tears away. The warmth of a body next to you, rocking you gently, letting you sob it out. Bawling into the shoulder of a friend, lover, or sidekick. How reassuring it is to know you aren't alone, no matter how miserable you are, someone will listen and care and be adorable to you. It feels so lovely, right? 

Well, I don't really know, because I can't tell you the last time I was comforted by someone. Whenever someone tried in the past, I rebuffed it, shut them down. Simply put, I haven't a clue how to accept their consoling. When I'm submerged in an emotional moment, I feel weak and vulnerable, which in turn makes me feel silly, stupid, and shy. Even more so, I get frustrated, irritated and, as ridiculous as it sounds, I want to be ignored. Left alone. To sort and deal and let loose on my own.

You know, after re-reading that tiny little paragraph, I realize how bizarre it sounds. That's the funny part about hangups and baggage you carry through from your childhood. Much of it is unreasonable and next to impossible to work through and let go of. It's imprinted on us and we carry it around for so long, often forgetting it's at the bottom of our suitcases. And then, BAM, it makes and appearance and ruins our trip.

Lately, I've spent a lot of time letting go.


Times change. Yeah, I know Bob Dylan got to that long before I did, but it is truth. Things aren't the same as they were ten years ago. I'm not the same person. So much of what I thought to be right and true was wrong. Like, for example, life isn't a solo sport.   

We have friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives for a reason. What's the point in surrounding ourselves with people if we can't let them see who we truly are? To hide even the smallest things away feels deceitful. Which is why I'm making a conscious effort to speak from my heart. To say what I am feeling, not just what I am thinking, even if it means bearing my soul and allowing my heart to be an open target. Sure, self preservation is important but it doesn't trump affection and kisses and trust and contentment.

And to feel like you can say anything to someone and know they won't judge you or hold it against you. That they will listen and hear your words. To feel safe and trusted and in turn give trust and make the other person feel protected. Well, I imagine that to be the greatest feeling in the world.

So, while I babbled on about that which I'd normally keep to myself, I thought about all this junk. And I found myself enjoying how things can change. That is, if you let them. You can be any person you want to be if you have the drive to fix what is broken, if you have the time and energy to invest in yourself. This one little conversation was important for me. I may have not articulated myself to the degree necessary to make myself clear, but when the little voice in the back of my head told me to put a lid over my thoughts and emotions, I didn't. I kept talking. And that makes me hopeful, not only for the hear and now, but for my future self, the girl waiting up the road, just around the bend.

See, I always wanted to be tough, but only realized recently that it takes more strength to be soft, vulnerable and compassionate. True toughness isn't about being distant and cold, it's about breaking past the person you used to be and moving forward even when you are uncertain and scared. It's about keeping your mind and heart open and entertaining the possibilities life holds, enjoying the idea of what-ifs. Being tough is giving love, and not expecting anything in return.

That said, I'm pretty sure anything spoken after two in the morning falls into the safe zone and is void from comments and judgement, right? Isn't that a rule? I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere. Or maybe I just made it up.
Heart Rock

4 comments:

Andrew said...

It does take a lot to be open and vulnerable. I have a hard time as well. Thank you for sharing. We all have our issues to work on and work through, but if we do it together we can all learn from each other.

Tyson said...

Thank you, Andrew. Together we can do a lot. :)

Kerry said...

I admire your introspection and commend you for sharing those thoughts with us all. Keep it up, I love the blog and vlogs.

Tyson said...

I am stoked you're enjoying them. :) Thanks for reading and watching. x