Saturday, November 21, 2009

Loneliness is a place that I know well. It's the distance between us, and the space inside ourselves...

And I've got a longin'
That's hard to find
Won't give me no peace of mind
Something that I've lived with all along
Days and weeks and months and years
Filling in the time my dear
Tryin' to find the place where I belong
--Annie Lennox "Loneliness" --


I'm almost 56 years old. You'd think at my age most people would have learned their life lessons by now, wouldn't you? Not so for me. I'm going to spill my guts once again so go grab a cup of coffee or cup of tea and settle in. I dunno how long-winded I'm going to get on this one.

Maybe it's from sitting on the couch with my daughter this morning and talking about friendships and self-images and others' perceptions of us. Maybe it comes from doing some more soul-searching lately. Whatever. But I've come to a painful realization of how I've limited my own life in years past. Me. My actions. My reservations about letting people in, letting them get to know me. My fears. My inadequacies, either real or imagined. Oh, this is so hard to admit to the world in general but especially to myself. It is so hard to peel back the layers of skin and see myself as I am, the time I've wasted. The opportunities missed.

You know, shy people are selfish people. Really. We get so wrapped up in worrying about ourselves we forget about how the other person might be feeling in the same situation. We see only our needs, our wants, our yearnings. We don't even begin to think about how the other guy might be feeling the same emotions, the same self-doubts we're feeling as well. Maybe even tenfold compared to ourselves. And we freeze. And we don't reach out. And we go away disappointed. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again. In ourselves. Ourselves.

I just looked at the calendar on my computer, down where Time is listed. I had a huge shock when I realized it's November 21 and it was 33 years ago today I became a Christian. Especially since I'm writing about the topic I'm writing about at the moment. Because it has been relationships with people within my church that I have limited myself from more than anywhere else in my life. 33 years. Oh, that is painful. Because it's just been lately where things have begun to open up for me. Well, in the past few years, anyway. First it was my friendship with Karen. Then going out to dinner with a couple we've known for 31 years. Then getting on Facebook and...tentatively...putting forth the effort to say hello to those within my church circle, to 'Friend' some of them. Sending notes and cards and emails to people I know. Showing myself friendly. Because, by setting so many limitations on myself these past 33 years I have not shown myself to be very friendly. And it hasn't been because I'm not friendly. It's because I've been afraid to be friendly. Dear Hubby, thru the many different areas he's been involved in thru the years, has gotten to know a lot more people than me. And when people have said to him, "You know, Kris is so nice but she's so quiet!!" he's always amazed by that. He tells them, "You don't know my wife! There isn't a shy bone in her body!" Maybe that's been true in every other venue of my life...but definitely not at church.

What is so humiliating about confessing all this is by looking at it in retrospect I can see these issues have been because of me. Because of my attitude. My building the castle walls of defense around me and blaming everyone around me. Never myself.

Because...you see...by letting myself begin to reach out tentatively and letting that armor crack, by opening myself and allowing myself to be vulnerable...something that is very, very hard for me to do...I'm finding that people in my church are responding to me like everyone else does. That they're finding me nice. And likable. And thoughtful. And funny. And interesting. That I'm not that lump of dough who's been occupying the same pew space for the past 33 years. That I have a voice. That I'm really and truly a person.

5 comments:

Loretta said...

I've been thinking alone these same lines myself. I've been having some heart to heart talks with my best friend about it. I have never been one to look back and question my choices, but find I'm doing it now.

Danielle Says Hello said...

This was quite a compelling post Miss Kris!! I would not have "labeled" you as shy in the least! I'm thankful that you have reached out to me!!!! Church social circles are funny things though and I can certainly understand your hesitancy and your shyness within that particular context. Enjoyed this post immensely. My comment doesn't even cover all that it stimulated in my own head and heart.

kys said...

I'm pretty quiet at church, too. I haven't been to this one for 33 years (just 1) but I hardly know anyone. I can really relate to this post.

Wander to the Wayside said...

This is 'ditto' for me as well, in all areas of my life except daughter and grandsons. I seem to be freer to be me in all aspects than anywhere else with anyone else. With others I'm friendly and use whatever side of me is called for, but still very reserved and cloistering my real self (whoever that is!) and thoughts/feelings. I've analyzed it and re-evaluated the choices I've made along the way, vowed to change and let people in...but, alas, I haven't followed through. Are we selfish-absolutely. Are we denying ourselves many of the joys of life-no doubt. You have to wonder sometimes if it's genetic, learned, or massochism. Great post, and lots of food for thought. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

Betty said...

Awe, I can´t imagine you being like this Kris! You seem so open and friendly. BUT I do understand! The other day I was talking to my friend, and how we got to know each other and she admitted that she was afraid of me at first. I was shocked! Why? Because she said I seemed "distant or even snobish" (is that a word). But I have never seen myself that way. I am just really shy where it comes to strangers as well. I don´t know how to react to them and freeze up. Blogging has helped me alot, to be friendlier and to have time for people, to look them in the eye and just say hi.
It´s so true what you write about still learning, even with 50! :)