My best kept secret

by Carolyn on July 13, 2009

shh

shh

I am my own best kept secret.   If you were to ask people about me, you would probably hear words like nice, stand offish, calm, snobby, funny and quiet.  I’ve always been surprised by how people view me.  Not by the descriptions of nice and funny; that’s exactly what I’m trying to portray.  But the assignment of snobby, quiet and stand offish is inaccurate.  Because if you were to ask me, I would use terms like self conscious, absent and hiding.  I can only presume that these traits all produce the same outward appearance.

But I have learned to blend.  Not many people who have met me in the last five years would say I was anything but ‘normal’.  Quite average in the social sense.  I have become an expert at reminding myself to smile while showing my teeth when trying to appear happy; to raise my voice in both pitch and tempo when trying to convey excitement and to avert my eyes and not say much when I’m supposed to be sad.  I could also teach a master class on how to engage in superficial chatter.

Before I was married, I had a bridal shower.  I remember the debate about what silly games to play.  Someone suggested playing ‘20 questions’, wherein the guests would be given a list of questions about me and whoever answered the most right would win a prize.  I remember vetoing the idea instantly.  I wondered who would be able to get more than five answers right? Because beyond where do I work, where do I live and what color is my hair, nobody really knew me.  Not even me!   Because if answers to questions like my favorite color, my lifelong dream and what I enjoy doing most eluded me, how can anyone else know?  I worried this game would instigate a resounding realization among my guests and I would be found out.

I couldn’t let that happen.

And so I have lived my life.  Acting.  Day in and day out wearing the appropriate face.  Always working hard to make everyone else feel comfortable around me even as I didn’t feel comfortable around myself.  Always worrying they would notice that I’m not quite right.  Always hoping for but never quite finding the connections I craved.  Continuing to hide but resenting myself for it.  Unfairly resenting you for it too.

And to think, I only thought this was odd a short while ago.  I figured I was stoic.  Emotionally mute.  I had seen others like me, and in my assessment I was doing much better than they.  At least I could act.  I am usually perceptive enough to know what emotions are expected when and a good enough actress to deliver them in a relatively believable manner.  I also know to keep everyone at an arm’s length in order to maintain the facade.

But then there have been moments of clarity.  Sitting with my best friend and suddenly hearing a laugh I scarcely recognize; shocked to find it’s coming from me.  Or standing up and cheering without even prompting myself, as my son stops another soccer player from scoring a goal.  In those moments I have realized that the emotions are there; but I am holding them prisoner. Not allowing myself to reach them.  And in silencing those emotions, I am silencing me.  Holding myself prisoner.

I think I would rather be free.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost a friend of hers to cancer.  I noticed that she had mentioned this friend had very little support from others with going to doctors visits, to the hospital, even in death; only having a very small memorial.  I asked her why that was.  This woman wasn’t a criminal.  She wasn’t a bad person.  Why at a time when she so clearly needed the ones who loved her to rally around, would they abandon her instead?  My friend answered that the woman had always ‘held her cards quite close to her chest’.  She never really let herself be close to people.  And so at the end there weren’t but a couple of close friends to rally.  And at that instant I heard a little voice screaming in the back of my head.  Yelling at me ‘that is you!’.  It was one of those moments.  Defining to the course my life would take from there.  Because I made a decision that day.  A decision that is only coming to fruition now.  I won’t keep myself a secret any more.  I am throwing down my cards.

It may mean you get the best of me sometimes, but I’m hoping that in the end I will too.

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Two Steps Forward… — The Grown Up Child
April 10, 2010 at 12:37 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tammy July 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Been there and done that too Carolyn. I was called a snob and sometimes the “B”word. I have always been a shy person but part of that was to hide my differences from the world. As a teenager you will do anything to blend in and not cause notice in an abnormal way. So at the age of 19 and legal to drink, I found out from many people that they thought I was a snob or a B in highschool. I was hurt at bit by that, which shocked me. I then put up a wall and said it was their fault for misreading me and not taking the time to get to know me. Yet I was apart of the as well. I never put myself out there either. It was easier to stay the way I was, to not to get hurt again. I had had enough hurt in my life already.
Things really did change for me when I met my husband. He was the first person I really let in and I thank God I did. It only took countless boyfriends and for me to have 29 yrs under my belt to do it. Now I am always the loud cheering mom at my son’s soccer games( he chases the balls but doesn’t like to kick it more than once at a time). And I don’t care when the other mom’s on the team think he is a pretty little girl with beautiful curls! Maybe it is time and age that has changed me a bit or maybe it is the love I have found. Either way I am not always that shy girl anymore.

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2 Carolyn July 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm

You definitely did change when you met your husband. It’s so wonderful when a union can not just be strong together but also can strengthen each individual too. A sign of a good marriage I would say. I’m glad you’ve found a way to open up.

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3 Urchin July 13, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Funny how that works, isn’t it? Those “Ah-ha!” moments in our lives?

I love that you’re coming out of your shell. Little by little. And I gotta tell you, those of us who read your blog will take all of you. The best, the worst, and all the in-between too. Let’s wiggle our toes together, yeah?

On a side note, your son should be playing hockey… he could be the next Luongo!

Back to the main point. We’re all actors. All of us, going through the day to day with false little smiles on our faces. Yours is evidently better than most. I have to wonder how mine compares.

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4 Carolyn July 13, 2009 at 4:44 pm

“I have to wonder how mine compares.” I wonder too. And yes, you never see those ‘Ah-ha’ moments coming! I guess that would be the nature of them.

And yes, Nolan will be in a hockey camp this fall I believe. We’ll see if he likes it.

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5 Urchin July 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Of course he’ll like it! He’ll be drafted within the first year.

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6 Kela October 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Very insightful and wonderful post!

*Kela*

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7 Carolyn October 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Thanks, I really appreciate that Kela.

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