PSA: serious, wordy post ahead (this very well could be my longest post ever). If you are in the mood for rainbows and adorable fuzzy puppies please see this post instead. ;)
Clearly something has been going on with us lately. I’ve been all vague and weird about it. And as far as the world wide web is concerned, I plan to stay pretty vague about it. At least for now. If there comes a time when I’m ready to share so publicly, I will. But suffice it to say, I’ve had some medical stuff going on lately (don’t worry, I’m not dying – it’s nothing quite that drastic ;) ). And we’re holding up well emotionally. Just an occasionally emotional day here and there. This week was a more difficult week. And we knew it would be.
So we have been slowly opening up to some people we trust to ask for their prayers and support during this time. And you guys, we have been overwhelmed. Completely and totally surrounded and embraced with love. I’ve always been on the other side of loving and supporting people, it’s so strange for me to be right in the middle of the figurative group hug. But I am loving it. I know that a lot of people have been hurt by church and Christians, but I promise you that there is so much good there too. People are flawed and will make mistakes, but when the church is working like she’s supposed to, it’s a beautiful thing.
I’m speaking to myself here. Well, to Christopher and myself. We hold things really close to the chest when something serious or important is going on in our lives. For the longest time I had no idea why we were so private about serious stuff. But this whole thing has given me some time for introspection. And I realized why we are like this.
A small part of it for me is that I fear coming across as dramatic. Or “woe is me”. I am naturally a really sensitive person so when I was younger especially I erred on the side of theatrics. I got told often to quit being so dramatic. But in truth, I really did feel that way. As an adult when I see kids/teens who are like that my inclination is to roll my eyes because it is kind of annoying (thank you everyone who put up with me). But I don’t. I gently nurture those souls because I know that someday when they get past the adolescent/teenage hormones, they will be some of the most empathetic people out there. But those feelings of “don’t be dramatic” are still pretty deeply ingrained in me. So I fear that if I open up about serious stuff it will come across as me being dramatic.
A small part of it for Christopher is that he is just in general a private person. He is more interested in hearing about other people than he is in sharing about himself. This is why most of his coworkers have no idea how talented he is at basketball or as a wood worker. In fact, you guys know more about Christopher from my blog than the people who work with him every day. He doesn’t mind people knowing those mundane things if they ask, but it also doesn’t occur to him just to share.
But the biggest thing was something that happened a long time ago to both of us. During my sophomore year of college we shared everything with our group of besties. It’s a long, messy story (with hurt feelings on both sides), but by the end of it, we had been ostracized by the group. And that group took the private things we had shared to them in our vulnerability and twisted and warped the information so there was just a nugget of truth to it, but a lot of ugly lie as well. And then they spread those things through the rest of our friends. We were hurt and devastated. Christopher was quick to wash his hands of the group, but I tried (for far too long) to fix those relationships. It was a painful life lesson, but a good one for us to learn. A lot of good came out of that situation. We learned a lot about friendship and what it looks like and who to trust with our hearts. The friends that we made after this happened became our BEST friends from college. The ones who we still keep in touch with and get together with. So again, lots of good came out of this situation.
To be totally honest, I rarely ever think about this anymore and it doesn’t sting anymore when I do think about it. In so many ways I’m grateful for the lessons I learned and the friends I made afterward that I don’t think I could be bitter about it even if I wanted to be. It was so long ago and I’m not in touch with that group anymore. So it doesn’t occur to me that what happened back then might be influencing us in a small way even still today.
Today Christopher and I have a lot of friends. A small group of besties and then lots of good friends. But we have SUCH a hard time opening up about personal stuff. I think that part of us that was burned once before had dug down deep inside us. And put a fear in us of opening up. Because when you trust someone, when you open up to them, you leave yourself vulnerable. And once upon a time, when we did that, some of the worst things were said about us throughout our group of “friends”.
So I guess along the way we started sharing less and less of ourselves with people until we were SURE. Sure that we were going to be able to close on the house we wanted, sure that the medical issue wasn’t as serious as the blood work indicated, sure that the dog we had adopted would be a good fit for us, sure that higher education was the right choice (remember that one time when almost no one knew that Christopher was in graduate school until just before he graduated? Prime example).
And there’s nothing wrong with this. But it does rob those who love you of the chance to really support you through difficult things. It’s not that we don’t share the difficult things ever. We always do. We just wait to share until after the difficult thing/decision has been resolved. We protect ourselves that way. But we also isolate ourselves in difficult times. I think this is part of why Christopher and I have such great communication. For most of our relationship we have been all the other has for support during difficult things. Which is awesome for our marriage. But again, we isolate ourselves from others. Isolate ourselves together, I guess.
I’ll be honest with you, Christopher is still a little unsure about this whole opening up thing. He was the one who kept saying that we should open up to people about what’s going on right now (because he felt like I really needed the support), but he isn’t positive that we won’t still get burned down the road. Just a few minutes ago I was talking to him about how I was writing this post and getting his feedback on it. He really likes how people are coming to stand beside us in this and supporting us, but he also is still wary. Especially as we open up to more people. And you know what, he might be right. We might share too much with the wrong person and end up hurt because of it.
For me personally, I understand Christopher’s feelings because I’ve felt them before. But I also know that we have changed our criteria for friendships and the people who we are close with today are very different from the group we were close with those early years of college. I really do think that opening up to people we trust is going to be the right decision in the long run. :) And if I’m wrong, well, we survived it last time and it made us better, smarter people so it’s only more life lessons to learn. ;)
It’s super weird for me to write this blog post now instead of waiting 6 months or a year to prove that it was the right choice to open up. But then I wouldn’t exactly be authentic to the lesson I’m trying to learn, now would I? ;) For now at least, we have truly been surrounded and embraced by family and friends throughout all of this (well ever since we opened up to the first person). We are surprised, overwhelmed, and grateful. :)
If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back. You’re a rock star! :)
Do you open up and share personal things easily?
If you don’t mind sharing, tell me about a time when you shared too much with the wrong person. Or were hurt by someone after being vulnerable with them. I want to hear about the lessons you learned and how you deal with opening up to people now. Obviously this is a pretty personal question so feel free to email me instead of leaving it in the comments below. :)