Fear of Sharing “Too Much”

I’ve always thought I was a direct person who wasn’t afraid of communicating, but I’m starting to realize that I suck at communicating.

When it comes to professional conversations, I am extremely great at communicating, especially via email. At my last job, my supervisors as well as my co-workers complimented me on my ability to write diplomatic, polite, and friendly emails. I love responding to emails and answering the phone. I think I am really good at building rapport with people on a professional level. There is an unspoken barrier that is accepted by both parties. It is not intimate to talk to these people, and I never feel vulnerable, and because of that, I’m great at communicating professionally.

But when it comes to personal conversations, I find myself shrinking away, avoiding confrontation. This isn’t how I used to be. I know that. I used to bring up tough conversations; in fact, I think I used to thrive on them. I loved the deep life conversations, divulging raw bits of my heart.

I’m not sure when I began to avoid conversations such as those. I don’t know when I became so deathly afraid of being vulnerable.

Of course on some level, I think it started sophomore year of college, when I began to lose one of my closest friends, when depression hit, when people began to tell me I was “too much.”

And when they say, “too much,” they meant too damaged.

I stopped sharing the dark bits of myself because when I needed my friend the most, when I was feeling suicidal, my best friend at the time turned away from me. When I asked her why she walked out instead of supporting me, she said, “Well E, no offense, but you’re always crying.”

Then several more followed. I didn’t even notice that it was a trend until quite recently. The friends who walked away from me left because I was too much to handle. My depression, my anxiety, and my eating disorder got to be too much for them.

When I was in New York the other week, my friend said, “Wow E. You’re really fucked up, huh?” I know she was half joking, but it literally pierced my chest. It wasn’t like I chose to be so messed up.

Knowing this has made it so much harder for me to open up, allow myself to be vulnerable. Every deep conversation, every moment of filleting myself open might lead to any one of my friends to walk away from me…so I’ve been doing it less and less. I already know people freak out when I talk about my depression, sexual assault, or eating disorder, much less suicidal ideation or self-harm.

I think a lot of the freaking out part comes from my friends not knowing what to say or how to help. I was on the phone with a close friend from high school, telling her about my depression and whatnot last month. Now that I’m not experiencing an active depressive episode, I was speaking quite freely about the feelings I had in April. It was quite palpable through the phone that she was agitated. She said, “I want to help, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what kind of advice to give you.”

The thing is, I don’t share these things because I need advice. All I need is someone to listen to me, to just hold my hand.

It’s kind of along the same lines as  when I go to get my flu shots, I don’t need someone to get the flu shots for me or even tell me what I can do to get my body to relax or whatever. All I need is someone to hold my hand while I get the shot.

It’s not like my eating disorder is going to go away because you suddenly tell me to eat more healthy. It’s not like my depression is going to go away because you tell me to just be happy. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I don’t share pieces of my soul because I need someone else to fix them for me. I share because I just need someone by my side.

I’m not exactly sure how to proceed from here.

I don’t want to hide pieces of myself away. I wrote about this lesson in my “Don’t Hide pt. 2” post, but I just want to reiterate what I learned over the years: “Because the thing is, if you’re taught to hide what makes you different, you end up feeling a lot of shame about who you are. And that’s not okay.”

But then again I don’t want to keep losing friends either.

Perhaps I should just be thankful I have at least one friend who gets it and has stuck by my side through all the shit for the last four-ish years. Some people don’t even have one.

And I guess I’ll have to just keep hoping that I don’t scare off all my friends with all my “fucked up”ness.

xx
e

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