Monday, August 1, 2016

Let nature take its course

Having been told many times in my life that I have the commitment and vulnerability phobias of a man, I started thinking. It's rare, but I do think sometimes! I started thinking about the reasons "men don't like opening up" and all those other cliche masculine things.

I started by thinking about why I don't like to open up. Maybe part of that is because the people who raised me and with whom I was raised weren't really the touchy-feeling, mushy-talk type. It wasn't the norm, and anything related to feelings, emotions, or vulnerability was seen as stupid and went ignored. Many people see this as unfortunate; as if I was deprived because no one asked me how my inner-self was doing. How about this: get over it.

As someone in the mental health field, this seems contradictory to my practice. My whole education and message is for people to "open up". The difference is, I hope people will open up to ME or another professional or a trusted family member or friend who: A- wants to hear, B- has the strength and time to hear, C- knows what to do once they have heard.

In the end, we make our own choices, we deal with our own problems, and we respond accordingly. I don't believe that those who mindlessly offer their feelings to others for the sake of "bonding" are better off. I won't say I haven't tried. Once or twice I gave the old venting and releasing thing a try. It didn't feel good and cathartic, it just felt like I was putting my problems on someone else while also opening a can of worms that no one was prepared to mop up. Most people are not equipped to deal with the people they know, or think they know. Once they see that reality and once you release that reality, there is not usually any turning back. There's no "Oops, that didn't work. Nevermind!"

This gets me back to my original thought. Why do girls typically complain that men won't "open up", or why will my acquaintances make the same complaint? After all, they want to help and they want to trust me and want me to trust them, and well, they want a LOT... a lot that I don't want to offer. Why does telling one's secrets open them up? Especially if it is pulled out of someone? If you are going to pressure someone into removing a bandage, you better be able to heal that wound! If you can't, then that's a selfish pull and that's a harmful pull, and there is no way in heck I can trust you.

Maybe that bandage will remove itself one day. Maybe if you wait 5 months or 10 years or a lifetime, that person will be ready to expose themselves. Or, maybe they have been all along, and you just haven't been listening with the right ears. The secrets and stories might be there all along, they just might not be the ones you want or expect.

Privacy is a beautiful thing. If someone feels comfortable telling me, "I don't want to talk about that," it reveals a lot. It also means that person trusts me! They trust me to respect their privacy, to not push them, and if they leave it open-ended, all the better. There is often an inclusion that they don't want to talk about it yet, which means there is an implied future wherein it will be revealed or the issue will be touched upon again in some way. That is, if they are not pressured. If there is pressure, there is stress added to an already-tender spot.

It can be frustrating when you want to know that deep, dark secret. I know that. However, it is seldom that one expects answers without a selfish greed. I find it difficult to imagine a situation in which someone requesting answers does so for altruistic reasons... though, I'm open to examples. For the most part, however, telling me I'll feel better if I tell you my gossip is a lie. If it's true, it's likely that you got lucky, it's a coincidence.

Not to mention, sharing secrets is definitely a point of vulnerability. Revealing secrets can lead to chaos for some. Yes, it does mean I trust another with this vulnerability, but there are many ways it can backfire, this will only prove the honesty to be a hazard.

Yes, this means I fear vulnerability. Don't we all? As humans, as animals, as living, sentient beings, we avoid actions which will put our safety and comfort at risk. Sometimes it is healthy to overcome those fears, but other times it is of no benefit to us or others. One must weigh those options. Chances are, though, if I don't feel my private thoughts, feelings, or experiences are best shared, I probably have reasons for it. Vomiting my background onto your shoes will possibly make the nausea disappear, but I may still feel sick and you'll have vomit on your shoes. As with most things, pressure and guilt do more harm than good. Let nature take its course.

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