I discovered something about myself the other day – two things, actually. While talking with a friend, and quite without trying, I stumbled upon the reason for my heightened sense of awareness. And when mulling over why I behaved in a certain way recently, due to hardly any prompting at all, I came upon a conclusion about myself. Both made me cringe.
We are a product of our many years. Our experiences shape us. The hope is that we are shaped into something that not only delights others but also delights ourselves. This doesn’t always happen.
What I had to accept about myself is that, my knee-jerk reaction, my safety mechanism prompted by fear, is to close the door to my emotions. Because if the door is left open, anything could walk in. Simply put, I don’t want a skunk to amble through the doorway by mistake. And tragically enough, what at first seems like a docile, cuddly little creature, is really a skunk.
I’ve had the unfortunate experience of finding a few skunks scurrying across my floor. Most of us have. The damage they do once inside is absolutely horrific. They leave behind their scent. And it takes an enormous amount of airing out before all traces of them are gone. I find it exhausting. The problem is, when I see a cuddly creature, I now look at it with a fearful eye. I’m waiting for it to turn around, where I can see their stripes. And of course, as time goes by, it’s getting harder and harder to be objective. I now see skunks, when all I’m looking at are innocent black cats.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, my brother and I had to develop a phenomenally acute sensory system. Just by the look in our parent’s eyes we knew if we should run or hide. Rarely, did we relax. To this day, I still find it hard to relax. But I’m working on it. If something was out-of-place, we needed to know why. Because our life-balance depended upon it.
So many years later, I am still noticing things that have no need to be noticed. I’m still excruciatingly aware, and I’m still looking for clues of continuity or disruption. And due to having a skunk trapped in my home for some time, I close the door even when all I want is to open it wide.
Although my aversion to pain prevents me from beating myself up, I’m a bit unhappy with me at the moment. I have a very strong sense of self-worth. I deserve better than skunks and uncertainty. Yet, I do need to be open to the fact that not all people are skunks and not all opportunities are uncertain. I’m not a skunk. I don’t stroll through back alleys under the cover of darkness, betraying anyone’s trust. Not everyone does. And as much as I’ve worked hard to create stability, there is a chance that a partner might add to the stability, not cause it to wobble. It seems I am painfully honest, across the board, even when it comes to viewing – me.
I’m firmly grounded in what I want for myself, my partner and my life. I want happiness mingled with the relief of a deep exhale, the kind one does when things are okay. This comfort and ease, this pleasantness, must sit upon a firm foundation. I can not function if the rug is being tugged from beneath my feet. I can’t say for certain if my path is one that includes another. Often I’m convinced it’s not. Yet, I am not so unlike everyone else – I too want someone to finally get inside my mind, and like what they see; to understand me. I just don’t want to discover anymore skunks, or find myself standing on any more slippery rugs.