As you know, I’ve been writing about personal things lately. I always get reflective and a bit gushy as a new year approaches. I’m still speaking what needs to be said to the people in my life—and feeling good about clearing things out. Or people, as the case may be. And that’s the risk when we show up honestly. Some people won’t like it.
So, do we risk being less than who we really are, just to keep someone else happy? Do we squelch the concerns, ignore the abuse, forget about having the sex we want, etc.?
Do we place someone else’s comfort over ours? That’s what I’m looking at this morning after reading a newsletter from Kelly Diels about pandering. I love her subject line, “you are not origami. unfurl.” Kelly talks about the way we bend and shape our words, (our actions, our desires) in order to be liked by this imaginary audience we’ve created in our heads.
I’m thinking about how I write to you, as well as how I show up in public. And how I show up in relationships. In my past the ‘audience’ was men and I did a pretty crappy job of being me. Bad choices were made in those early post-divorce dating years. The result was that I didn’t find a man who was right for me. How could I have? I didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t willing to risk that I was enough in all my blemished glory. In the intervening years I’ve made so many changes that I have a completely different take on relationships.
Many of us fail to be ourselves in relationships. It happens all the time on dating profiles. From exaggerating our height, a male thing, to underestimating our weight, a female thing, and any other number of seemingly small details. We create what we think will attract, what we hope looks desirable–imagining some ideal audience out there—when what people really want, desperately, is to connect with real people. We are all flawed. The best relationships come out of accepting another’s flaws and letting ours see the light of day.
What drives us to hide our real selves? If we’re afraid of offending a person to the extent that we bite our tongue, or tell lies, how strong a foundation are we setting for future relationships? How do we build truth and respect if we can’t be honest?
Oh, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
I’ll tell her one day that I don’t like the way she kisses.
If he tries long enough I’m sure he’ll figure out what excites me.
How long are you willing to put up with an unsatisfying situation? What are you trying to prove?
What are you afraid of?
I am speaking to all of you. But in reality it is we women who are the worst offenders. Ladies, the world will not fall apart if you speak about what’s important to you. Your mother won’t die of a heart attack. (It may be true that some men will rush off in a puddle of crushed male ego but they weren’t right for you anyway) The people who value you will be willing to listen and engage in conversation.
The people who don’t appreciate your honesty? Why bother with some who doesn’t respect you? We can invite into our lives whatever we choose (my quest for 2016 is to invite in desire) and we can also give unwelcome folks an invitation to go.
In that more spacious space, we then have the opportunity to focus on those relationships that matter. We can get clear on what we want. We can talk about the things that matter, the good and the not-as-good as it could be, and work together to create something worth holding on to. This applies to work, to family, to relationships.
The minute we hide a piece of ourselves, or compromise our happiness, comfort or safety we give into contortion. We fold ourselves up into something that looks beautiful to the eye but isn’t really who we are.
Photo from Photo Pin