Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Don't Open Up--Except For Right Now

I admit to being very surprised to read the writing suggestions I received two posts ago.  Mainly because they were suggestions for me to reveal what makes me tick, what makes me Rebecca.  I was touched, and completely taken aback by the rush of emotion I felt.

Reading blogs, changing diapers, cleaning the house, making food for the missionaries today, I kept coming back to that overwhelmingly rich feeling.  The type of feeling that is so poignant it makes you feel like crying, but you're not sure why.

Now I know why.

I have a fear of revealing my true self.  Oh, I have done it somewhat here occasionally.  But the real me, the true me?  I think I'm afraid to do that, to let part of me go.  I think the very closest I get to that is when I write poetry or fiction.  I just let the words flow through my fingers like inky streams.  Inky streams of computer font.  But they're mostly unfiltered.  That's raw, pure, Rebecca.  I think that's why I only write poetry occasionally.  It's from the innermost part of me and I feel naked when it's out there.  But it also feels right, feels good.

I've come to understand that I give you part of me, I could lose it.  I can be hurt.  If I don't, then there's no danger of being hurt.  The few people I'm friends with online--it was a big deal for me to open up like that.  I just don't do it in real life, haven't in years. But I enjoy hearing about other people's lives and loves when I'm talking to them.

Why am I this way?  I came up with two reasons:

The first one is that we moved around a lot when I was young; we rarely stayed anywhere more than two years.  If we stayed in the same area, we moved to a different house.  I had such a hard time leaving; it hurt so badly.  Not only did I miss people (most of them I never saw again), I missed things.  I missed my room, I missed the yard, objects were like living things to me. I was the girl who ran to hug the trees goodbye before piling in the van to leave West Virginia.  I secretly kissed the walls goodbye in more than one house. I was the girl who felt like her heart was ripped out to see her home pulling further and further away in the van window for the last time.  I was the girl who felt a little guilty for being excited for new adventures, like I was letting my home down for being both excited and terribly sad.

As an adult I take pictures of hotel rooms we visit that we'll never see again, just to remember them.

So I began to close myself off so I would never have to endure that kind of pain again.  I am rather social in that I enjoy parties and gatherings; I have friends here that I love and enjoy talking to very much.  I just tend to keep most people at arms length; they might not realize it, but I know the difference.  It just hurts to love and leave.

The other reason happened when I was around ten years of age.

I was a chatterbox.  Still am.  My mother tells me stories of how I followed Dad around and all he had to do to keep me happy was give me a "Yes, Rebecca" or a "That's great, Rebecca" and I went on and on and on for hours.  I still do it to my mother, I am so thankful that she puts up with me.

Anyway, one day I was at our Branch President's house (church leader) and went with his family somewhere. I don't remember where, just that it was unusual because I never went anywhere with anyone.  I was homeschooled, and there in the hills of West Virginia there weren't many girls my age--period.

That day they had a neighbor or a cousin, someone I didn't know, who was going with us.  I was my usual, chatterbox self.  Probably even more so because I was so excited to talk to a girl close to me in age who wasn't a sister.

After listening to me for a while, she asked me "Why do you talk so much?"

 I stopped in such complete shock, the same as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown over me. I was completely devastated.  Sickened.  Filled with a sinking, bottomless dread.

A lumped jumped up in my throat; tears stung my eyes and threatened to pour out.  It hurt to swallow. I swore to myself that I would not cry, in fact, I would never talk again.

I was quiet for the rest of the trip there.

On the way back, she told me that I could talk if I wanted to, but I shook my head.  All desire to be social was gone.  It was as if it never existed in the first place.

She didn't mean to hurt my feelings.  I have always felt things overly much.  Ultra sensitive doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when I was young.  I still am a teensy bit, deep down.  Heck, I even felt sad for the '80s  being over when I went to bed on New Year's Eve on December 31st, 1989.  I knew they'd never be there again, so I whispered goodbye to them so they would know that at least one person in the world recognized their passing.  I was eleven at the time.

 I have toughened up a lot over the years, but I swear that when I'm talking to people and they show the slightest bit of disinterest the essence of that feeling floats from my stomach up to my brain.  Why do you talk so much?  It's more of a wordless warning signal that I hope I have gotten soon enough.  I don't want to be that girl ever again, so desperate for attention that I ignore all subtle hints and bowl the other person over with me.

There.  That was cathartic.  Thanks, guys.

Whew and ouch.


L.T. Elliot said...

This is me--with your words. I feel that same way, as though if I open up, I'll shatter. I still fear the words and my voice and wonder if my honest is too honest.

I'm glad you shared you. You're a wonderful, beautiful person and I cherish every word. *hugs* Love ya, Rebecca. Write me soon because I love to hear from you.

Luisa Perkins said...

Those bruises from childhood linger, don't they? Yet I believe we can learn much from them as we let them heal. Giving them air and light--as you've just done--will help ease those pains. Well done.

Kimberly said...

Gosh I love you!

And L.T.'s comment echoes my own thoughts. Me, with your words. My story is different and yet eerily similar. Down to moving when I was nine and being harshly criticized by new "friends" - changing from a bubbly, verbose little girl to a shy and hypersensitive introvert. Now that the healing is FINALLY taking place, I'm obscurely glad to have gone through that. I like how empathetic I am (you are too - I've noticed!). I like that I care about other people the way I do. I'm not sure I would if I hadn't been hurt the way I was. Even so I'm pretty dang selfish at times.

I know how hard it is to bring those deep dark hurts into the light. It's hard to admit how we've allowed hurts in our past to dictate our future. But oh how good it feels once the initial awkwardness passes. I hope that for you - and all manner of good, happy, loving things. ~hugs~

Helmbunch said...

It is hard to face those dark childhood hurts--I know, this past week one reared its ugly head for me and I landed in the ER on valium for a couple of days (you know how if feel about drugs). I don't know if they ever completely go away or even if they should as they have in some way made us who we are. For instance, you would never ask someone why they talk so much. That being said, you listen well. However TALK Rebecca--shout to the hills, you have such a sweet spirit and so much to say. Don't let anyone, even yourself, keep you silent again. We are here to listen. I love you and your family. You give me great joy.

mindyluwho said...

I like being bowled over by always have such wonderful insight into life. :)

Aubrey said...

Hey Rebecca! I am just finally reading htis and I have to say that I totally relate to you. We have so much in common. I moved around a ton and it hurt a lot everytime we moved. I was a very sensitive child, too. If someone had ever asked me why I talked so much I would have stopped talking too. But I was too shy to talk much to anyone, so that never happened.

I'm glad you're posting again. If I ever find time I'd love to blog more too!