concealment and revelation

I have not been in very good space lately.

I feel like I am engaged in a constant battle between opening up and shutting down, letting go and white knuckling it.  I am also in a constant state of anxiety or tension, and have been for years.  Coincidence?

Sitting in a therapy session last Saturday, I found myself thinking what an odd thing it is for me to be working on opening myself up with my girlfriend when in other areas of my life (dealing with toxic people) I feel like I need to work on shutting down, protecting myself.  And then there are all these more ambiguous relationships in between where I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or should be doing.  Something about having to adopt wildly different approaches in my interactions with different people does not sit well with me.  I know what Emerson said about consistency, but some part of me still feels like it’s a virtue I should be working towards.  Perhaps I must find consistency in my motivations rather than my actions.

Time was, no matter how bad I felt about myself, I could console myself with the fact that I hadn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t become my father.  This sentiment is losing some of its capacity to soothe me.  Not because it’s untrue (it is certainly true; my recent contacts with him have confirmed this), but because it’s not enough.  What does it matter if I don’t become a jackass like him?  There are a million ways to be a jackass.  Avoiding just one is small potatoes.  I need to avoid them all.  Part of me thinks this is too high a standard to which to hold myself, but most of me thinks even if I hit the mark, it’s still the barest minimum that I owe the world.

And then there’s yoga.  Lately, I barely feel worthy of getting on my mat and practising, much less teaching.  Again, it’s about this schism between opening up and shutting down.  Even on good days it feels somewhat insincere to put on this giving, open facade when I teach.  That’s not how I treat myself.  To my discredit, it’s often not how I treat the people I love.  Yet what am I supposed to do, act like a jerk when I teach?  That’s clearly not an option; I try to be my best self when I teach.  Is there some sort of middle ground which I haven’t found yet?  Is it possible for me to be genuine when I teach without being a jerk?  Or, better still, is it possible for me to be giving and open the rest of the time, with myself as well as others, without it feeling forced?  I guess the Right answer is to work on being more my better self when I’m not teaching, and it will feel more real when I am.  But then that gets back to the issue of needing to adopt different approaches with different people, and needing to shut myself down to some toxic people without being open or giving with them.  And this in turn brings me back at the question of whether I can find a consistent motivation in all of my actions, whether opening myself up to the people I love, closing myself off to emotional zombies and vampires, or teaching a yoga class.

And suddenly, it’s method acting!  Director, what’s my motivation in this scene?  How about the act?  How about the whole play?  Hey!  Isn’t there anyone directing this thing?

It took some rambling, but I think I’ve arrived at the right question.  Why am I doing what I’m doing?  Guess that’s my essay question for homework.


3 Responses

  1. You don’t need to avoid them, you need to let them not get to you. Breathe out the toxicity that you feel – let it go in a breath or two. Not always easy, but letting assholes get to you gives them power they shouldn’t have – that they don’t have to have.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head with finding consistency in your motivations rather than your actions. Opening yourself up to your girlfriend and closing yourself off from toxic relationships are all about valuing yourself and seeking the most healthy situations for your soul.

    p.s. great writing!

  3. I too, struggle with this balance. I seem to be one extreme or the other. Why can’t I just be? Am I expending to much energy even focusing on this at all? I am learning to accept myself most of all, but its hard. I think as sensitive and intuitive humans we are faced with these struggles all the time. Know you are not alone.

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