Secrets

As a kid I remember being asked and hearing others ask the question: what is your deepest, darkest secret? No one ever seemed to believe me, but for the longest time I had no answer to that question. I didn’t really have any secrets. It even struck me as odd that that question seemed to come up so often. Do regular people have terrible secrets that they’re hiding? I couldn’t imagine it. For most of my childhood and adolescence, I was pretty much an open book. Any secrets I may have had were rather by chance than by intention.

Throughout my college years I made a lot of very serious mistakes. Those were really my first secrets. Even so they were only things I hid from certain people. My boyfriend never knew I cheated on him, but it was common knowledge to my close friends, despite my shame. I suppose I also had secrets from my parents in my late teens and early twenties. These secrets seemed sensible though. I kept selectively silent in order to preserve the feelings of those I loved.

After years of living on my own, and particularly during last year’s quarantine, it feels like I’ve become more secretive than ever. These are much bigger secrets in my eyes. Maybe not as damning, but certainly more embarrassing. These secrets are ones I keep out of personal shame rather than courtesy. They are not selective events or things I conceal from only certain people. It feels like these things have crowded around me to form a separate, secret me. There are so many things about my day to day life and the inner workings of my mind that I would be mortified for anyone else to know. It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if anyone even truly knows me anymore.

That’s why I wanted to talk about secrets today. Secrets separate, secrets isolate. I’ve recently read about something called imposter syndrome. This is the experience of feeling like a fraud and/or undeserving of the things and people you have in life. I’d say that fits me, but I hesitate. Is it “imposter syndrome” if you really are an imposter to a certain degree? I don’t feel like this is some imagined perception. I truly believe that most of the people in my life would no longer like me if they knew more about me. Whether it’s true or not, this only encourages me to hide myself away. And the more I hide myself away, the bigger my secrets become.

I see only two ways to remedy this situation and rid myself of this ever-present shame. I could either come clean about all of my idiosyncrasies to everyone I know (no way would I ever do that), or I could change my behavior and live each moment of my life in a way I can be proud of. This second option is my goal. Everyone knows the phrase “dance like no one is watching,” well I want to live like everyone is watching. For the most part I agree with the saying that your true character is who you are when no one is watching. That’s why I feel fake most of the time. But I want to live a life that I don’t have to be ashamed of. I don’t want to keep feeling like a phony when I face the world.

Satya is one of the five Yamas (restraints) laid out in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. Satya means non-lying or truthfulness. I’ve tried a few times to adopt this way of living, but have always given up quite quickly. I really never realized how much I lied, even about little insignificant things, until I tried to be mindfully truthful. Most often these lies come in the form of excuses. I’m too anxious to go hangout with my friends, so instead I’ll say I have other plans. I also tell a lot of half-truths, purposely being vague or omitting certain details in order to stay on someone’s good side. When I really think about it, I guess I’ve been more concerned with other people’s opinions of me than my own self-respect.

After so many years of telling these little white lies, it has become second nature to me. But I’d like to start looking at truth as an act of self-love. Being honest is really a gift to myself and others. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to feel truly worthy of my loved ones unless I learn how to be honest with them and myself. It may be scary, but it’s something I’ve got to do. Happiness won’t be found in falsehoods.

Throat Chakra

The throat chakra is connected with communication. It helps us to express ourselves, our feelings, and our personal truth confidently and clearly. I still don’t know exactly where I lie on the sliding scale of believing all of these things. However, I do find it fascinating to learn about chakras and integrate this knowledge into my own life. At the very least the chakras are a nice way to visualize a lot of the obstacles that come up within ourselves. Sadly for me, no matter what chakra I think about, it seems like I have a blockage in it. It’s no wonder I feel so anxious and on edge.

Today I wanted to focus on the throat chakra though. For me, like the heart chakra, this chakra is easy for me to buy into. Our language even has phrases that have become part of our shared culture that seem to reference this energy center. “Frog in your throat,” “lump in your throat,” “choked up,” “choking back tears,” all of these remind us of that familiar sensation of tightness in our throats when we are struggling to speak.

It seems like the art of communication has become more and more forgotten as humanity becomes more comfortable texting than speaking in person. It is much easier to choose the right words when you have time to think about it and carefully craft your response. Especially without the added pressure of the person waiting right in front of your to hear what you have to say. With texting you can take as long as you want to figure our the perfect way to phrase your thoughts.

For the longest time I’ve described my difficulties with speaking my mind as a fear of confrontation. However, lately I’ve started to think that it’s more than that. I’m just afraid to speak my truth. I am so concerned with what other people will think of what I have to say or the reactions it may illicit. I pause, panicked, searching my mind for the most polite and non-offensive way to speak the words I want to say. So many times I’ve gone along with something I didn’t want to just because it was too difficult and awkward to say no. Even when I’ve mustered up the courage to say no, I often feel ashamed and guilty about it. I have to stifle the urge to profusely apologize. And apologize for what? For being honest? There should be no shame in being true to myself. The idea that so many times I’ve put the needs and desires of others ahead of my own just to avoid feeling awkward saddens me deeply.

I hesitate to be so open and share the details of my private life any more than I already have on this blog, but no one knows who I really am on this site anyway, so fuck it. The reason I’ve been contemplating these things is because of my date yesterday. I notice my shortcomings in self-expression the most when I am dealing with romantic relationships. I usually seek out a partner that is so emotionally intelligent that they are able to compensate for my extreme lack of personal insight. I realize that is unrealistic though. I can’t expect my partner to simply carry my weight. I must try to push myself through my own hardships.

Anyway, I always dread the moment when someone I’m dating tries to be physically intimate with me. I’ve mentioned on here before that I have a very low sexual interest, especially with people I’m not in love with or very emotionally bonded to. There have been many times in the past where I have given reluctant consent to sexual encounters simply because I felt obligated to. I felt too guilty and awkward to say no. I realize the horror of that statement, but it’s true. Even though I did that to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable conversations, it never ended well for me as you might imagine. This attempt at avoiding healthy communication and mutual understanding and respect led to a lot of pain, heartbreak, and even more unpleasant conversations down the road.

Knowing that my date was going to be stopping at my house to pick me up yesterday, I had already tried to mentally prepare myself for what may come later on. Sometimes I’ll even do something like avoid shaving so the embarrassment of them discovering that forces me to be true to myself and say no to their advances. Humiliatingly enough, sometimes that has even failed. As I had anticipated, the dreaded hour drew near where this lovely man I met wanted to go further physically than I was comfortable with. While I am proud of myself for sticking to my guns and declining, it doesn’t change how embarrassed and ashamed that moment made me feel.

I did my best to explain that it was only because I still did not know him that well, but I feel I could have said much more than I did. I desperately wanted to discuss it more, but that damn frog in my throat wouldn’t let me. I spent the rest of the evening suffering in silence. I am always afraid that saying no will result in the end of that relationship. I know how foolish that idea is though. Wouldn’t I rather it end there than have slept with someone who would have stopped talking to me if I hadn’t? Just the idea of sleeping with someone for any other reason than because I deeply desire to is terribly sad.

Part of the issue is a lack of experience in these types of scenarios. I don’t have many healthy examples to draw from. Most of my social skills have been adapted from television and movies. But when it comes to sex, these sources are even more unrealistic than usual. In my mind, it seems perfectly reasonable to not have sex with someone the third time you’ve ever met. Then why do I feel so awful for saying no?

Part of my fear is not knowing when, if ever, I will want to say yes. One of the many reasons romantic relationships are so hard for me to navigate is that I struggle to enjoy each moment as it comes. I am always wondering what the end result will be of every decision. I can’t enjoy a kiss, because I’m busy panicking about where it might go from there. I can’t listen to my own body when I am worried about what will make the other person like me the most. I guess the only real way to improve my communication skills is to keep getting practice through uncomfortable moments like these. I’m sure it’s much more embarrassing to be declined than to be the one declining. Yet my empathy for the other person’s position only makes what I’m experiencing all the more painful. Just a few days ago I was so happy and excited. Now I’m not sure how I feel at all. I feel detached and depressed mostly. I have no idea where this relationship is going to lead, nor do I know where I want it to at this point.

I’m not going to give up just yet though. I have to remind myself not to be so serious all the time. Just enjoy the time I spend with this guy for what it is. I don’t need to know everything that the future holds. Part of the fun is not knowing. All I have to do now is stay true to myself and follow my own feelings and intuition, letting each moment unfold as it comes.

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