You know when someone brings up something that’s emotional — a personal experience that makes you feel weird or uncomfortable — and all you want to do is silence them by either dismissing the experience or emotion or projecting positivity on the situation?
I want to hide the darkest parts of myself because I’ve had this experience so many times.
On days that I feel ‘dark’ and I want to keep myself hidden — I fumble my way into work, say hello to everyone, hide behind my mask, ask questions and change the subject when someone asks about me. For whatever reason, the parts of myself that I don’t want anyone to see or know about feel like they’re outwardly obvious. I have a heightened discomfort in my heart and it’s highly offensive to my mind. I want to feel something completely different than the darkness that is ravishing my psyche.
So, I pretend. I masquerade as if everything is OK, as though this is not happening.
I feel affronted by the desire to hide, and I wonder what it is about pretending to be OK that makes me feel so incomplete?
For whatever reason, on this day, my darkness is exploring space. The parts of me that I want to keep hidden from myself, the parts that bring me shame because they feel broken, want recognition. I don’t want to admit that I feel unlovable, that I feel like nobody likes me, that I’m swallowed by the shame of my past mistakes, that self-forgiveness feels impossible.
All I want to feel is the shiny, bright, articulate, attractive and creative sides of myself.
On this day, I want to avoid the difficult and blow right into the comfortable zone. I want to stay on the surface, remain numb to my shame and float on top of all my emotions.
It feels like the safest place to be. Much of the messaging that we receive about being emotionally healthy is about keeping the dark at bay and pretending to shine rainbows from our backsides. We’re all drawn to charismatic people, those who walk into a room with a smile that feels like sunshine, those that keep things on the surface and avoid deep emotionality. We avoid people that feel awkward, especially if their emotions look messy and feel provocative.
We dangle carrots of optimism — we’re told to find our purpose, our calling, the loves of our lives; we’re expected to have kids, have the house, have the career and earn lots of money, popularity, and followers. This is all while being fit, beautiful, strong, stoic, cool and smart so that we look like we have our shit together.
Meanwhile, all the things about us that feel unsophisticated have to lay dormant until they’re exhausted from being masked up.
Instead of hiding from all the feels, we could create a healthy and honest relationship with ourselves. Instead of creating divisive war zones in our bodies as we send parts of ourselves to seek asylum, we could invite the parts of ourselves that we’ve given refugee status back home. We could invite them to sit at the table with us every day and make space for the awareness of the struggle.
I don’t want to broadcast the parts of myself that I want to hide, but I do want to make these places feel as relevant and important as the parts of myself that are attractive.
So I regularly bring attention to them. I invite them to sit with me, and I don’t hide from them. I allow them without shaming them, and it’s changing how I experience myself. I’m softer and I feel less conflicted. I still have difficult days; nothing is perfect, not us, not any practice. But by regularly not fighting with myself I feel more at peace. I carry less shame. It’s only something I feel, not something others might notice.
It also means that when I’m feeling the emotions I don’t try to hide them with so much aggression. They can be with me, and I’m not scared someone is going to see them because they are me and I am them.
This is why I offer my one-on-one sessions: I want to help others find ways to make peace within instead of feeling controlled by their emotions.