A Prelude to Confession.
The core values, motivations and traits of a person tend to stay constant throughout a lifetime. Yet through the course of a life the manner by which people either protect or project their deepest, most authentic selves may change in a dramatic fashion.
In terms relevant to this blog, we can sometimes become either more or less XYZ than we used to be. Sometimes we can even name the change, instead of having to use XYZ. And the irony of this post is that I, author of Too XYZ, have detected a shift within me that I can actually describe with words, and not my trademark Too XYZ.
What is this shift?
I need to interact with more accessible people about more of my issues.
Note that I said “interact” and not simply “share”. Because sharing could be this blog post. Or a Facebook update. Or an email. I do that sometimes, with mixed limited results. But to interact with people about my sometime internal horrors would provide me with a ritual cleansing of sorts when the periodic fogs of spiritual and emotional warfare once again descend upon my heart. The notion of interaction in all of this is crucial, because I know a few people who care about me, but have no idea what to say, or even clam up when approached with negative topics. So their love is appreciated but I need those willing to engage with me as well.
I’m not totally silent. There may be a cryptic Facebook status here and there, or a weird tweet that gives some indication of the battle within. I get pissed and write about it here. But those are vague reflexive observances of my internal ordeal. They are almost side effects of the turmoil. That hint of steam emmerging from the pressure cooker as it does its work. Not a concerted effort to lay out in detail what I am grappling with at any given time.
For most of my life I have been okay with that. After all if I am going at it alone and not revealing the weird nature of my intangible plague of spirit, the solutions are all under my control. The attack plan is mine. The PR is mine. There are no questions. No judgment.
But when there are no questions, I get to nowhere new. I don’t see anything from more than one set of tired eyes. I don’t form a new plan of attack. I detect the next enemy charge, dig in, and fire as many rounds as I can. When I am out of ammo, I duck and wait for it to pass, knowing that in the end, if nothing else, I will become too tired to fight against the unseen and will collapse, get looted and be left alone until I rebuild. Afterward I will dust myself off and head to rehearsal for my latest play, or type a chapter up in the novel and nobody knows the difference. Ty, as he always was.
I’m not okay with that anymore. I am still in many ways a private person, and I will always be an introvert. However, this business of polishing my persona to a show room shine before stepping out to be amongst people so they can’t see what is happening has run its course in my life. I’m done with shining up the bronze statue of me people walk past everyday. No matter how bizarre, stupid, or crazy people are going to find my fears and “demons”, the time has come to be more frank about them.
The problem is, that will probably mean a mass exodus of some sort. I could be wrong of course, but it seems that over the years people have built up this idea of me. “Ty Unglebower”, a character in the play of life, as opposed to Ty, the human being that is over at our house for dinner tonight. (It happens once in a while.)
For many years that was easy. I’d go somewhere, be “Ty” for a while, and feel okay about it. Then I’d come back home, feel the fog descend, and fight my way out of it myself. In so doing, not only could everyone keep their idea of “Ty” alive, but I came away with a sense of empowered self-satisfaction. I had fought off the invisible attackers on my own. 50 against one. Victory was mine.
If you will recall in my bold print statement above, I called for accessible people as well. I emphasize I have some people who care. But interaction with the few of the most important ones can be difficult because of distance. There is always the phone or Facebook, yes, but when you are in the bunker, surrounded, and need ammo and reinforcements, nothing really beats having a physical presence there with you to talk out a few things. Yes, getting support from others via social media is better than nothing, but it makes it easy for others to be dismissive of my plight. Even if I share more than I have been, I get met with the atrocious silence, or with the flippant. I mentioned I felt as though I was in serious trouble the other day in my status. One response was “Good luck with that.” Thanks a lot…
Yet despite the obvious risk, I think it is time. Time to be more open, more detailed, more frank about my struggles and pains. It won’t be easy, to leave that bronze statue behind for a while. But the end result, hopefully, will be not only a greater understanding of me by people near and far, but also fewer solitary battles in the future. I pray that with this new candor, I will find my current people more willing to be there, and perhaps attract new, understanding people into my life that were not there before. Maybe even a few that have already beaten the same enemies I am fighting now.
The fog will lift. It would just be nice to hear friendly voices in it when it descends. Even if I can’t see the faces.
- Posted in: Introversion ♦ Too XYZ
- Tagged: friendship
I think this is the best post of yours I've read, and I applaud your willingness to try and reach out to others about your struggles. You are absolutely right–it is too much for any one person to handle on their own for all time. And you may find comfort in the fact that so many people are struggling also, and that the things and feelings that you fear seem so crazy or strange are perhaps more common than you realize.
And on a sidenote in regards to those who don't respond or are flippant in response to your trials … I say that's just fear, fear or acknowledging someone doing the tough mental work we all need to do. Because by acknowledging that individual, it forces them to look inside themselves, which is maybe something they are not yet ready to do. (For example, I once watched an old friend become ostracized by his drinking buddies when he decided to become sober. His ability to recognize his illness and start dealing with it scared the living sh@t out of the rest of them.)
Thanks, Noel. You make a good point. And I had not thought about it in those terms exactly. Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on people for their silence or flippancy. And indeed, I wasn't trying to judge them overall when I mentioned it. But at the same time I think everyone deserves to feel the security of people who are willing to get dirty and take a look at themselves and others. If certain people are not up for it, that;s more than fair. But I think we all need a few people who can and will do so.
No, I think it's totally ok to call people out when they're flippant or dismissive. Just because they might be scared or intimidated doesn't make it right. It's more just for all of us to know why they behave this way so we don't take it personally (which I have been guilty of in the past).
Ty, thank you so very much for this post. It really touched a part of me that I so often dismiss. I can't wait to join in on this journey with you. As a coach, I've learned a lot when it comes to working through the inner gremlins and if you ever need a neutral 3rd party to reach out to, I'm here!
Thank you, Amanda, for your kind words. I am glad the post touched you in a positive way. I am sure it will not always be easy for me to be open about some of this “gremlins” as you call them, but by having put it out there in this post and on Twitter, I feel I will be more likely to follow through.
I love this post, Ty. It sure brings back a lot of memories for me. I've never attacked this objective as an introvert, but I did go through a similar journey a few years back. Showing some vulnerability and seeking out receptive people in your life to show it to can be a struggle, but (for me, at least) totally worth it. Best of luck on this endeavor, Mr. Ty.
Thank you, Megan. I actually started to do a bit of this just over the last two days. We will see how it affects me, and the people involved.