The connected ones

by Carolyn on June 25, 2009

ambassador bridge

the Ambassador Bridge

Some people make me green with envy. I’m not talking about the wealthy, powerful or famous. Those qualities don’t impress me much. The people I’m jealous of are those who I call ‘the connected ones’. Not connected by way of influence; I don’t care much about that either. Connected emotionally; to themselves and to others. In a real and palpable way.

We’ve all seen them. They are the ones who simply by walking into a room, effect a gravitational pull on anyone within a 25 foot radius. Other’s will even start to orbit them, never wanting to be too far. These people are warm, sincere, happy and above all….open. They are shockingly comfortable in their own skin and even if they are shy, they are never embarrassed to simply be themselves. Now those are qualities to revere. I have at times been so captivated by people like this, that I have sat back and watched them. Searching for a way to be like them. Not because I want make more friends. But because I want to feel what they feel. To actually feel connected.

Because I have tried. I have mimicked them perfectly. I have acted warm, sincere, happy and charming. But it’s never the same. There is always the slightest sense of it being forced or unnatural. And I have learned that even amazingly unperceptive people can pick up on that sense. The ‘connection’ has routinely eluded me. And I think I have figured out why.

I don’t think it’s warmth, sincerity or charmingness that really connects us to each other. It’s openness. The willingness to share ourselves with others. That is how connections are created. And I am so closed. I have constructed and maintained a wall around me for many years now. Like most walls we build around ourselves, mine was built from hurt. It’s purpose is protectionism. The bricks in my wall are not all from my parent’s divorce, but at least the first few rows are. My sense of reality was shredded in an instant. That alone warrants some protection.

Not that my parents did anything wrong. I have ‘it wasn’t my fault’ pretty much tatooed on my psyche. I have never wished my parents had stayed together or felt wronged by their divorce. But the result is the same. My wall was built. And being a true to form for a child of divorce, my protectionism extended to my parents. I never wanted them to see my pain because that in turn might have hurt them. So not only did I construct my wall, but also a facade to go with it. To mask it. Very typical behaviour for a child of divorce.

But now I’m an adult. I have nothing to hide from. I don’t need protecting. My wall has outlived it’s usefulness, trapping me inside instead of simply keeping others out. Hindering me from making meaningful connections with people I want to feel close with. Making me jealous of people who can. So I say to myself, open up already! But it’s not that easy. My patterns of behaviour are so ingrained, my wall so strong, my facade so tangible that most times I’m more comfortable with it than who I really am. Like some method actor who can’t give up the role. Opening up isn’t as simple as stepping on a sensor and having sliding glass doors sweep aside. It’s more like clawing, scraping, punching, kicking and continually being out of my comfort zone. It’s not easy. Not in the least

But here I am…..I’ve started. And I’m going to keep trying.

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{ 3 trackbacks }

What is it you do, anyway? — The Grown Up Child
October 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm
Two Steps Forward… — The Grown Up Child
March 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm
At the Hands of Fate — The Grown Up Child
March 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:45 pm

From Frank Fradella on June 22, 2009

Yet again your bravery is inspiring. I’ve sometimes wished for the walls you’re trying to tear down.

The good thing about today’s day and age is that we’ve replaced those old brick and mortar walls with force fields. You can walk around quite happily with no protection, but the second you feel threatened, you can bark orders to your imaginary crew, “We’re under attack! Raise shields! Evasive maneuvers! Mr. Sulu! Get me a piña colada and a copy of GQ, stat!”

Okay… so maybe that’s just me…

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2 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Frank’s reply after I wrote I’d love a force field and wondered if the talking aloud was necessary:

I tend to do it out loud, but I also tend to hang around with people who will play along. Like, they’ll reply with, “Captain, the shields are at 46%! Engineering reports heavy casualties! And Jessica Alba is on the cover of Vogue again!”

Good times, good times.

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3 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:48 pm

From Tammy on June 23, 2009

I think a lot of people can relate to having walls built up around us throughout our lives. For 23yrs I have had mine and only a special few were allowed through the one little door. But probably in the past few yrs(7-8) I have started to knock them down a bit. Not sure if it is b/c I got closer to my 30′s and realize we all have issuses or if with age I decided even more to not really care what others judgement was of me and my life. Either way, letting a few good friends(who you can trust) in is a good place to start being open or you can write a blog and let the world in(LOL).

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4 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

From Urchin on June 23, 2009

I have walls. Very strong, fortified, very resilient walls. And yet. I’ve been told by others that I tend to “hold court”. I never realize when it’s happening, only after the fact, when someone mentions it do I get that “it happened again.”

I wouldn’t call myself an open person. Not honestly open. I’m not comfortable in my own skin. Too often I was told, or shown, how little I actually mattered. So I don’t know what it is that draws people to me. What makes them want to be near me (more often to end up hurting me when it becomes a realization that I will not just fall in love with someone. When I don’t live up to whatever expectations they’ve placed for me. When I ultimate fall off the pedestal that was so delicately placed beneath me…) I’ve come to hate it.

I want to just be me. The awkward girl, who’s more “boy” than girl when it comes right down to gender stereotyping. I want to be allowed to stay behind my walls if that’s what I choose, or to come out and wiggle my toes in the grass.

“Opening up isn’t as simple as stepping on a sensor and having sliding glass doors sweep aside. It’s more like clawing, scraping, punching, kicking and continually being out of my comfort zone. It’s not easy. Not in the least.” You wrote.

Exactly. That is exactly it. But you. YOU have found a way to open up. If only a little. That’s an incredible step, you know.

And for the record: I was drawn, and I will orbit.

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5 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

From Frank Fradella on June 23, 2009

Urchin that was just… beautiful. Thank you, girl.

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6 Carolyn July 2, 2009 at 10:51 pm

From Urchin on June 23, 2009

Wow. Compliments from two amazing writers. Thank you, both of you, and… you’re welcome. :)

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7 Robyn October 25, 2009 at 12:42 am

I think probably kids from divorce have more walls, I think it boils down to not knowing who to trust. Or maybe not knowing who will betray you if you do open up to them. As you get older, I think you can open up to some but theres still a wall as if your always cautious. I know thats how it is for me..lol

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8 Carolyn October 27, 2009 at 11:07 pm

And me too, Robyn. Sometimes I feel safe to come out and play and sometimes I don’t. And it all depends on how I’m feeling. No one gets an ‘all access’ pass to me. I’m working on that.

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