Monday, March 23, 2015

you became a stranger that knows all of my secrets.

Thoughts from another medium, documented here:

I’ve been having difficulties with “splitting” aspects of myself around others. What I mean by this is presenting a different persona depending on the company I keep. I know this is a relatively common experience; we can all relate to perking up for a coffee date with particularly extroverted friend or toning things down for dinner with your parents. What I mean by splitting however, is actively selecting and editing aspects of ourselves to fit in.

Brene Brown talks about the difference between guilt and shame in this fantastic blog post. Using this as a basis for understanding my intention behind splitting, I began thinking about it in relation to HSPs. Perhaps I use this technique to cover up the inherent shame I feel about being sensitive (ie. my “fatal flaw”)? What does this say about my self worth? What about the capacity I have for trusting others?

Here are some more specific examples of shame and concealing aspects of my identity:

-Attending Church and omitting all complexity from my sexuality, sexual expression and sexual orientation (I become the straight, marriage focused Christian girl). This isn’t even an unpleasant feeling, sometimes it feels nice not to be so “other”

-Allowing others to experience my sensitivity and the positive traits I associate with it (generiousity, caring, love, kindness, insights, intellectual thought, intuition, etc) but excluding any trace of my medicalised experience of mental illness (medication, periods of suicidal ideation, attempts on my life, traumatic life experiences, etc)

-Constructing the image of my life that I know others want to hear (using my intuition to gauge how others perceive me and altering myself to fit their expectations). The funny thing is, I’m quite often right and people seem to visibly exhale when I assure them that I’m doing well

This constant balancing acts and “splitting” of myself and my identity is exhausting. I’ve never factored this into my understanding of overwhelm. I don’t acknowledge it as a part of my life which needs mental work or reflection because that means acknowledging it in the first place.

I’m not sure whether this post has any conclusions – just open questions and a sense of resignation.

Will my life always contain some form of “lying by omission”? Is that necessary to maintain healthy relationships? Does my personality need to be “toned down” for others consumption? What is it about me that is so difficult to contain as one? Does this mean I place even greater emphasis on the relationships where I can be “whole”? Does that create a dysfunctional or dependence based dynamic? Am I alone in this struggle?