Want to know a secret? As a kid I was so scared I didn’t speak unless spoken to. Today, most people don’t realize this. If I try to tell them, some plain don’t believe me. Yet, the fear still haunts me sometimes. The fear that if I open up, I get rejected for who I am. That there’s something wrong inside of me. That the bullies were right.
Of course, I’ve proven this to be true many times over. I chose to surround myself with people who would reenforce my belief. Because I didn’t state up front who I am, because I was scared, I attracted the wrong people and/or expressed myself in the wrong way.
The thing is, if you never open up, you may never be rejected for who you are, but nor will you be loved for who you are. To meet the right people, you need to be yourself; living from your heart.
So what are you sacrificing by not living your truth?
What Regret Feels Like
I “met” a guy named Dave when I wrote an article about him for an online dating site. It was an article about men in uniform. He was a sailor with a blog. A blog where he shared the pains of PTSD after being in the Australian Navy. He was a man who was hailed a hero. He’d saved lives. Yet, he also lived with darkness.
As I read his blog, I was swept away by it. I was touched. So I wrote him a comment, because I thought he deserved it. He put himself out there. Something I strived to do with my blog. Because I didn’t want anyone to feel as weird and awkward as I did as a kid, I’d started a blog. To share it all. To help others find themselves. To find myself. To dare to be open, so if only on my blog. On my blog, I never had problems expressing myself. On my blog I could reveal all, because I wasn’t scared. Well, sometimes I was, but not like in real life.
And I really admired that Dave put himself out there. That he spoke about what depression is like. That he made it less “weird.” He was a hero for fuck’s sake and he was hot, too.
So, anyway, Dave read my comment, which led to him reading my blog, which led to him looking me up on LinkedIn and messaging me. We became online buddies.
Over the years, I always held a place in my heart for the stranger in Australia. He was a man I was curious about, he was a man I admired and a man I felt a level of kinship with. He’d been through war. I’d been through a township in South Africa. Friends would kindly point out that I had PTSD from my life experiences. But I put myself back together every time I broke. I won the battle with my mind time and time again.
This week, I commented on one of Dave’s status updates on Facebook. He was working on his memoir. He shared a piece about losing his baby to cot death many years ago. As I read it, I thought to myself that I’d interview him for Vigyaa. I wasn’t sure about what, but the man had enough life experience that I we would find one angle or another. It kept popping up in my mind. That I would finally get to speak to him. I was planning to reach out to him in a couple of days.
Today I found out that Dave killed himself this week. And I got furious. I got furious because I knew full well that I never explored that connection properly. Never explored the kinship I felt. And now I’m never gonna have a chance to speak — actually speak — to the man I felt a connection with.
It’s made me realize all those times I spoke half-truths. When I said “I like you” instead of “I love you.” When I said “it’s OK,” instead of “you hurt me.” When I hinted instead of expressed myself clearly. When I didn’t open my door, because I was scared.
We have so many different connections with people. Beautiful connections. Yet, we don’t always express what we feel. Nor do we always explore the connections we want to explore. Because we’re scared, or busy, or some other such thing. But to me, human relationships are the most beautiful relationships of all. So what are we missing if we don’t explore them?
How to Overcome Fear
As a child, I was scared people wouldn’t love me, so I shut my door to protect myself. Then I tried to make myself lovable. Perfect. And opened my door half-way. Now I’ve realized you can’t make people love you. But you can open yourself up to them. Open the door. Let them in. While you love yourself. And if there is a genuine connection, you will find it. If there is not, it’s not rejection — it’s simply not a fit.
Human relationships are messy. If you’re zen, grounded, happy and love yourself, you’ll be able to handle them. You get involved in the right way with people. You can open your door to the world, because you know that you are whole. That you don’t expect someone else to heal you, or fear being caught up in their drama, or being rejected by their broken egos.
I used to be scared of what happened if I expressed my truth; my feelings. In the past couple of months, I’ve become scared of what happens when I don’t.
I don’t know what frightens you. What you’re dodging. If so just a little bit. Whether it be the sharks in the ocean, or the idea of failing a test. Whatever it is that is holding you back from doing what you want to do. The best way to overcome that fear? Realize what you’re missing out on. Do you actually want to wake up one day, knowing you no longer have the opportunity to do something?
That’s what hit me today. I can no longer speak to someone, because they’re gone.
We didn’t speak much over the years, but ever so often I’d get to hear I was amazing. I thought he was pretty amazing too. That he inspired me. I just didn’t say it. Because I was scared. I was scared he had PTSD and that I’d get caught up and…I know what depression feels like. I didn’t want to go there. The truth is, I didn’t have to go there. I could keep my door open without getting caught up. I just didn’t know that then.
Thank you Dave. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for your blog. Thank you for all the messages saying I’m a beautiful person. Thank you. May you have found peace my friend.
These are the blogs that made us friends his and mine:Dave Stafford and Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde