Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Isolation

Some special thoughts from my sister Robin today enjoy!

“I know I'm in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.”, says my friend, Katie.
I can so relate! It may appear chaotic and crazy to the rest of the world, but inside my blonde little brain, I make sense. I am brilliant, totally understood, and accepted. I am also easily entertained.
I am, indeed, in my own little world. And sometimes I seriously just want to keep it that way. It feels safer. Take yesterday, for example. HB (Honey Bunny, my significant other) and I were having trouble communicating- as in- all day. You've been there. It's painful. It's exhausting. By the end of the day I just shut down and retreated to the rooftop to look at the stars and talk to the Creator of them. Life is hard work, and relationships are especially challenging. Pain is always involved. The normal response to pain is to retreat. How quickly do you sprint to the nearest blade of grass when your bare feet are getting scorched on burning asphalt? Emotional pain brings the same response : withdraw and retreat - I'm outta here. Unless I'm nominating myself for a Darwin Award, self preservation and survival is instinctive. So when the battle is at your doorstep, what do you do? Batten down the hatches, protect and defend. Become an impenetrable island.
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel song, “I Am a Rock”?

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Sometimes I have to fight the urge to pack my bags and fly off for a little island retreat. My typical response to pain (and shame) is to withdraw and isolate. Others may fight because they're more acquainted and comfortable with anger than vulnerability. No matter how you slice it, though, hiding behind walls we've built kills relational intimacy. Most of us are experts at hiding and we don't even recognize we're doing it anymore. For example, as a functioning introvert I can act appropriately extroverted in public when called upon, yet crave the safety and quiet of being alone. Big groups and small talk terrify me. It might have something to do with my fear that I'll say something stupid, won't be interesting or entertaining enough (compared to others), that they'll see the not-so-adorable side of me, or will demonstrate my historically poor storytelling skills and embarrass myself, or worse, embarrass HB.
The opposite method of hiding looks different but has the same motivation (don't let anyone see who I really am). I didn't realize I used this method until recently when I was called out by a good friend. Don't you just love friends who will tell you the truth? Ha! Confession time. I have a tendency to ask people a lot of questions about themselves in order to understand them better. People are interesting. Everyone has a story and I like to hear them. Not necessarily a bad thing if you're a counselor, but I'm not. Without mutual sharing and discerning disclosure, it's hiding. Then of course there are the Teflon-armoured people who pretend to be something they're honestly not (aka wannabe, fake, poser..), or those who can't go deeper than a surface conversation, who are too scared to be real and let others see their true selves yet wouldn't admit it if you threatened to take away their chocolate. You know, “Them” (I say with three fingers pointing back at me!).
Being real and authentic is scary, but a challenge I'm willing to and need to take because it is something I highly value. A friend of mine once told me, “Life is too short to be phony or be around people who are fake.” Agreed. Being authentic involves risk and overcoming the fear of sounding dumb, being wrong, or sounding crazy at times. Because after all, I wasn't made to sit here like a bump on a log twiddling my thumbs all day. I was created for more. (You were too.).
Martha Graham once said that each of us is unique and if we didn't exist something in the world would have been lost. Holding onto the lies that “I can't ..” or “I'm not…” keeps me from being me and living up to my God given potential and design. Some things on this earth won't be done, some people won't be touched if I live in fear and hide. There are people to see, and things to do. Time to get off the couch and get going.
As the game is over and I hear the call, “All-y all-y in come free”, I know the gig is up and it's safe to come out of my hiding spot. There is freedom in living real. The alternative is exhausting and lonely.


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Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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