Empathy and Vulnerability

I had dinner at my apartment with one of my best friends, who has gone through a lot lately. We were talking and she said, “we tend to hide from the people who know us best. Because they can see us.” And all of a sudden, the pain and the hurt over the past few months made sense. I have been her, and I have written about it. Because being seen when you have been through so much shit feels so fraking painful. It is so much safer to hide yourself than be vulnerable, and it is often with the ones who love you that you hide from. It is so much easier to put on a front of antipathy when you are feeling like your world is collapsing.

judgment self-destruction

Except it really isn’t easier. This has taken a lot of time and self-reflection to get this perspective.  For further explanation, I wrote about it here. It was before I understood that I am worthy of sharing my emotion with people. That by shutting off my emotion to those who love me the most, I could end up with fractured and untimely-ended relationships. Trust is deserved to go both ways. It wasn’t until the past six months that I understood how much I potentially and unknowingly hurt my friends in the past. I wouldn’t let them in. I thought it would hurt too much based on prior experience. I thought I had to be the strong one.  It was all very wrong in every aspect. Learned behavior is such a bitch to change. It was an epiphany of epic portions.

point in life

There is something about being empathetic that engenders compassion, obviously. In the past couple of years, I have somehow become able to control how myself embraces the empathy to create a wall, but still feel the emotion so I can use it almost like a tool. I am no longer crippled by it, but I can sense and try to figure out how best to problem solve the emotion. It’s an interesting development, and pretty cool to interpret. I am truly blessed with this gift, where for most of my life I thought it was a painful burden.

life is all the feels

I think it was when I made an unconscious decision to be seen and my presence known that this mindset shifted. It was no longer about me. It never truly was. It was my decision to step up to my value as a human being and a person when things started to shift in my life. I am gifted with a variety of leaders in my life, but I am stepping up to the Viper, taking flight, and starting to become my own leader. It’s not a role I ever thought I’d be playing, but here it is. It is time to step up. Step up to leadership and responsibility, in spite of how terrifying it is. It is time to be me. Whole-heartedly and with passion. Fear be damned because it’s my time to be bold. It’s my time to grow into myself, again.

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Emotional Availability

I have multiple close friends who have trust issues (me included), and we completely understand the limitations of that barrier. There comes a point, however, where there’s gotta be a give back on some level. Even if it’s small.

This is hard for me to admit to, let alone severe the emotional cord. Let me be clear, this is not a friend breakup; this is an emotional breakup. I am still going to be friends, but I am going to do my damnest to not be quite as emotionally invested. It completely sucks, and for anyone that knows me, this takes a lot to push me this far. Or in this case, I don’t deserve or want to be at that point with her. We have been through a lot of shit together, and lately there is no emotional connection. Despite that we are both dealing with some of the hardest things either of us have gone through.   There is “let’s get together soon, I love you, etc.” I know she does love me (we say that a lot in my friend circle), but there is no follow up to complete the intention. Little to None.

She’s in a difficult situation right now, which I respect and that she probably doesn’t see. It physically hurts me (thanks empathy) to see her where she is in her life, and all of that I am okay to deal with. I can process that level of hurt with someone, and have done it more times than I would like. The not being able to connect with her on a deeper level anymore is where I now draw the boundary.  This is probably due to us being so close at one point.

that is pain

I am crying as I write this because I just came to terms with this today. And it hurts so damn much to have to do it. I have been on the opposite side of this. The non-giving side, and I didn’t realize what was going on at the time. I didn’t realize that by not offering any kind of emotional connection, which I thought was a burden, that it actually hurt their feelings when I didn’t. Once I realized that a few months ago, my past friend relationships and the fault in retaining them became so much clearer.

This is and is also not like that. Then I wouldn’t give any emotion to anyone, unless I was really not in a thinking frame of mind (e.g. drinking, a lot). We have extensively had that kind of emotional bond, and for some reason it hurts significantly more than if we never had that it.

I am also not saying it can’t come back, but I also highly doubt it’ll be like it was. The trust is gone, on both sides at this point. I can pinpoint when it happened, and I wish I could say I was sorry. It needed to happen, and I was hoping the aftermath would not be this result. It’s all good. The universe will conspire in one way or another to solve it, and this is another step to understanding my fellow human.

New Beginnings

I had a conversation with a mentor and one of my best friends recently about my attire.  It’s well established that I am a treehugging, hippie, paddler who likes nothing more than cargo pants and some quick drying layer (usually fleece or tech shirt).  I own a lot of men’s clothing of every variety.  I have a plethora of men’s pants because at one time, either in reality or in my head, I believed that I could only wear mens pants because of my muscular thighs.  I love them.  I have worn them for YEARS.  They are comfy, baggy, practical, and just a staple of my wardrobe outside of my Arbonne attire.

However, they are no longer serving me.  I have done a shit ton of personal growth, a lot of which was painful, some extremely.  All necessary, and all infinitely worth it.  My mentor told me recently to get rid of all my men’s pants that were ill-fitting.  For my job (not Arbonne, I sell work boots) I am regularly crawling around on the floor, searching through boxes, climbing up ladders, often get covered in dust, etc.  I do not wear nice things at work for this reasons.  I literally have work pants and go out pants because my knees always get worn out.

I initially went full out against this idea, because who cares what I look as I crawl around looking for boots, digging through boxes, or carrying heavy, dust laden boxes down the stairs?  I never had.  Perhaps-no definitely-I should.

Where I work is not glamorous, by any stretch of the imagination.   I sell work boots and work clothing, primarily.  I really like where I work, and have worked there on and off since I was 16.  It’s flexible, family owned and operated, and locally owned store in the Hunterdon County area.  It’s also different than anything you have probably been in, in the best kind of way.

The work boot area where I work in particular is quite different from what you may think.  It’s extensive, massive, and we have boots everywhere in the stock room.  I came to the realization today that just because it’s not the most classy place or the cleanest doesn’t make a difference in the pride I should have in working there.  There’s a reason I have worked there since I was 16.  I truly do love it there.  We have something for everyone. I  take pride in that, and therefore I should take pride in what I wear there.

I don’t need to be a diva.  I would like to be practical and classy.  The two are not mutually exclusive, despite me thinking that until recently.  I can do my job effectively, look classy, and not destroy my clothes.

The crazy thing is this is one of the hardest things she’s asked to me to do.  By the way, they have all been awesome and totally worth it.  The personal growth, while not easy, I did it quite willingly and without question.  This I questioned, and whined, until I realized that this out of all the other things she’s suggested I do, have caused me the most up-front mental hurdle.

Why?  Because my old self is trying to hide my badass figure from society.  I am worth it.  I am worth all the attention to my mind, body, and soul.  In personal growth,  there is always another piece to fill in your jigsaw puzzle.  This was a big one.

Grief, Trust, and Belief

I am not a big trust person.  It takes a long time to earn it from me.  I have been working on steadily for the past two years.  Every once and while, though, I get this urge and almost necessity to speak with someone who I don’t know very well.  I did that tonight, and it was about something deeply personal for both of us.  I honestly didn’t know what would come of our conversation, which started about a family event this past week.  It was an open, genuine, deeply “real” conversation that was both terrifying and quite striking.  And it morphed from a conversation about grieving and that process to one of an oddly fulfilling personal awakening.  The cool part was it all stemmed from my friend Kayla’s firm belief that my Nana was immensely proud of me.

When you spend almost your entire adult life being closed off from the world, and to open yourself up little by little is a bit daunting.  It makes one vulnerable and exposed.

I have had people tell me, “you are such an inspiration.” And I would say, “thank you so much, and I am glad I was able to do that for you.”   In reality, I never understood why I was such an inspiration.  FYI, this is not me being modest, I honestly didn’t know.

Kayla, my friend and colleague, clued me in tonight on why I am so inspirational (her words).

I met her last year in Vegas, and she was brand new.  Apparently, I said no matter what it was, “Arbonne is amazing.”  To me Arbonne is not about the paycheck, which can be incredible.  It’s about the relationships, personal growth, and self-discovery along the way.  And that is why I am an inspirational being in Arbonne (this is what others have told me).  I have persevered much longer than other people may have, because despite some setbacks, I kept going.  Because I SAW the potential, I saw where I was going, and I saw what I could become.  I hadn’t seen that before really, EVER.  I didn’t believe in myself, and I relied on others belief in me until I gathered my own.  My personal definition of perseverance is doing something long after the excitement and what you said you were going to do has worn off.  I am a person of my word, and yes, this is a lot longer than I thought it would take.  It IS happening.  My Nana saw it in me the last time we spoke, and it has provided a fuel for me to get it done.  She was proud of me.  She saw greatness in me, and she believed it to be possible.

I didn’t know what this blog entry was going to be about.  I almost just free-wrote it, and this is what came out of my head.  It’s important part of this journey that I am on to trust myself.