What unravels connection?
Whoa. That is poignant to me. She said, "shame is the fear of disconnection." And THIS. This:
"Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?"
That is me, to a T. I cannot tell you how much I identify with that fear. I distance myself from people even though I literally CRAVE connection with others. I try to hide in corners. Hide my body so that people who might not like it won't have to see it if they don't want to. Then I hide any character flaws (or even character traits) BEHIND that body so they won't have to see or dislike those either. I try not to laugh too loudly, talk about anything controversial, or offend anyone.
I have accidentally offended people before, and the SHOCK of them telling me I did something so horribly wrong, was so debilitating that I would do anything to avoid that happening again in the future. It's whenever I get what I sometimes call "confident", and I tend to let my personality loose a bit more, that I get smashed back down by a negative experience of someone getting offended by me in some way. So I get the idea that there is something inherently wrong with my personality. And I swing back the other way to humility (or is it humiliation), curl up in my cave, and try to be as small and as quiet as I possibly can.
My therapist told me the other day that he thinks I would naturally probably be more open and free (and extroverted) than I ALLOW myself to be. It's true, I hold myself back a lot. I also worry about lack of wittiness and intelligence. When I am too free to talk, I too frequently say stuff that is stupid cause I didn't think it through, I didn't get the punchline, I don't have the cultural knowledge to understand it, etc. I think I'm just pretty socially awkward a lot of the time. I hate that feeling of being laughed at or not taken seriously because my lack of intelligence hindered me in the conversation. I am afraid to talk about my ideas in case there is something in them that might show a lack of knowledge on my part and I will look like a fool.
I want people to like me, so I try to be a people pleaser. But do they end up liking me for that? Not really. Is it actually possible to please everyone? Hell no. (Like my recent usage of the word hell is displeasing to many people I know.) It's not even possible to completely please the top 5 people I admire the most, all of the time.
Do I have any really close or "best" friends? No. Have I ever had any? Not really. I've actually thought about talking about this topic for a long time, but here again I was afraid of offending those who were pretty close friends and might feel bad that I didn't think we were really that close. But if they are honest with themselves, I'm sure they'd also realize we were never really that close. At least certainly we aren't now.
I don't think I have ever had a best friend. Not in the way I want at least. I see other people who have a best friend they can call up anytime and both vent about whatever, they hang out and want to spend time together frequently. They support each other through hard times and love each other no matter what. They don't let much time go by without contact.
I have had elements of these things, but never the full thing. I have even felt like a few different people were MY "best friend", but I knew that I was not theirs. And I will tell you the truth that it hurts to be in that situation. I usually tell myself that I'm expecting too much and being ungrateful.
I feel like a whiner to even want this stuff. I'm a grown woman, why would someone my age and status in life want or need or think she could have a "bestie"? That's something you either had in high school (or college) or you didn't, and that stage of life is over.
Well, I'm sorry, but that's stupid, and I hope it's not true. I'd like to have close friends. Even if I don't have one "bestie", I'm sure a lot of my friendships could be a lot more than they currently are. But in order for that to happen, both parties have to be willing to be vulnerable.
Now let me be grateful for a minute. I have a good number of awesome friends. I love them. They are wonderful, and I'm so glad to have people that will do things with me, come to game nights, go swimming with me, encourage and support, etc. I'd like to see some of these grow and blossom into even deeper, more meaningful relationships. I can't be the only one who wants more connection. At least I hope not. I know that logistics and practicality prevent a lot of connection- we're busy people with families, jobs, etc. But I think we can do better. In my case at least, technology also gets in the way, and that's really unnecessary to let that happen.
I want to talk for a bit about dating as it relates to this too. I have had people I felt well-matched with but they didn't agree. I once kind of asked a guy out and was pretty harshly rejected. He literally looked me up and down really quickly when I said he should keep me in mind for going hiking with sometime cause I'd love to go with him, and he said "alright" very half-heartedly. Yeah that went nowhere, and that hurt. Maybe it was his way of saying, "you don't look like you can do much hiking." So here's the interesting thing. After doing that I felt like 100 bucks cause I had been brave enough to (kind of) ask a guy I liked to do something with me. As I thought about it later I was sad about the rejection, but realized he was being a little bit shallow and I was glad I never did anything with him, cause it would not have been a good match.
So now....it TERRIFIES me....but I think my strategy is going to be one of genuine vulnerability and quick action. If I like a guy, I'm just going to ask him to do something with me. And those guys who aren't interested will reject me in one way or another and I will more quickly move on. Instead of my old strategy of waiting around forever for something to happen, hoping it will, and it never does. If people can't naturally see the value I have, I am going to have to be more proactive about showing it to them. And if they are then unwilling to even take a look, they're not worth my time.
I think a similar strategy will work with friends. In fact, I started to do something kind of like that last summer, spending some fun one-on-one time with a bunch of different friends. It was really fun and helped me determine better who I would like to be closer to.
Can I also say I'm on the lookout for some 2nd moms? My mom is gone. I need great women in my life who care about me and will advise me. There have been people I would love to take this job. I'm going to try to be less shy and just pursue those relationships.
Vulnerability means to be authentic. It is courageous. Courage is, as Brene' Brown put it, "to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart." There are a couple of distinctions between people who suffer from shame and lack connection, and those who have deep connections to others. Those with good connection with others know that this vulnerability is important and their vulnerabilities are what make them beautiful. They also believe they are worthy of love and connection.
So as a person who desires more connection, I am working on these things and will be seeking more and better connection with others. I am working hard on believing I'm worthy. I'm not there yet, but making progress. I think it may be the biggest hurdle of my life.
I do believe that vulnerability is important, but more in theory than in practice. I think I am more okay with being vulnerable with my weaknesses than with my strengths. (Weird.) I don't like to let my personality show a lot in case it's too weird for people, even though I like it just fine. I don't let my thoughts and ideas show. But then how will I ever find people who are similar to me and I get along well with, if I'm not being genuine?
This has been a very disorganized post- more of a journal entry than a blog anyone else would really benefit from reading. Normally I would edit it to be nicer, or even start over from scratch. But since I'm talking about vulnerablity and authenticity, I'm just going to leave it as-is. I don't expect there will be many who actually read it to the end. But perhaps those that do will have some interesting things to say, ideas to talk about, and time to spend with me. Or perhaps the thoughts here will just get you thinking about your own relationships, ability to be vulnerable, etc.
If I know you and you too are seeking more connection and if I am worthy to be in your inner circle, please do let me know. I think this life can be much more fulfilling, pleasant, and peaceful than we let it be.