you & me

Unfolding Within the Emotional Field.


How do we unfold ourselves before one another?

“I’m entirely interested in people, and also other creatures and beings, but especially in people, and I tend to read them by emotional field more than anything. So I have a special interest in what they’re thinking and who they are and who’s hiding behind those eyes and how did he get there, and what’s the story, really?” ~ Alice Walker

What do we choose to reveal and to keep hidden as we forge through the endless sea of meeting and greeting and learning and loving that comprises the connectedness we, as humans, crave?

I’ve always been an open person. Overly open, in fact, as I’ve warned new friends and welcomed new lovers. I like to think it’s a part of my endearing nature, though it’s had an endangering effect more than once in my life. That is why I’m trying to wrap my head around the question of engagement just now.

My story is not unlike millions of others.

It’s a story filled with joy, and tempered by frequent sorrow.

It’s the story of a life characterized by the struggle to fit in while making an attempt to stand out among the crowd.

I vacillate between wanting to be invisible and repressing the urge to unfold my naked soul before the whole of the world.

I’m not alone, but I feel so damned lonely most of the time, that when I am presented with the opportunity to make a connection with another human being, I often fly too fast and forget to check the radar. Or even worse, I ignore the buzzing alerts that my intuition sends, and negate my concerns for safety, at the expense of losing the opportunity to fly in formation once again.

I didn’t always feel this way, but as my story continues to unfold, and as time keeps ticking on, adding greys to my hair and numbers to my age, I find that I just don’t fit the molds that I find on the front shelves of society. I’m finding that the acceptable or expected roles for a woman of my age and situation are rather narrowly defined.

“Clearly older women and especially older women who have led an active life or elder women who successfully maneuver through their own family life have so much to teach us about sharing, patience, and wisdom.” ~ Alice Walker

Patience and wisdom aside, the front-facing options for a middle-aged widow seem to be the following:

a) A woman dedicated solely to her children, deriving honest pleasure only from seeing to their upbringing and dutifully baking cookies from my widow’s abode. Satisfying all the spinsters of the world and staying quietly sane.

b) A career woman, driven to climb the corporate ladder or start my own business in order to prove my resilience and worth in this world. “Success, success, success,” shouting loudly from the sidelines.

c) An aging has-been, once-was MILF, foolishly clinging to youth by dancing and raging with kids half my age. Looking a fool, perhaps, but experiencing the short-lived and long-lost satisfaction that comes from freedom of soul.

d) A victim. Like so many others among us, unwittingly, unwillingly made to endure assault again and again, yet unabashedly aware of the ways in which I’ve allowed it to happen. Against my better judgment. I could expose everything that has led me to this moment, spilling to anyone who’d listen, allowing the outside world to have every advantage and begging only for a type of love that is no good for anyone but those who’d prey upon it. Again.

What I’m finding is that none of these options work for me. I’ve test-driven each of them, and find that singularly, not one of them suits my soul. They don’t pleasure me enough to combat the buyer’s remorse each one brings, and I can’t seem to find a combination for coexistence that is sustainable.

Most importantly, none of these ready-made roles afford me the license to be who I truly am.

So I choose option e) None of the above.

And return to my original question: How do we unfold ourselves to others when we are given the opportunity to do so?

What are the rules about relating to others, and which of them can be broken?

How much can be revealed before the revelations bring about destruction?

Whom do we choose to share the depths of our souls with, and why?

Self-censorship is something I practice regularly, though I’m admittedly horrible at it. So, when I meet someone new, these are the questions that arise in my heart and head.

What should I say? What should I hold back?

Exactly how deep into my emotional field do I let you wander? How far do you want to go?

Once I choose you as a close friend, sister, or lover, you are inevitably bound to become family at some point, but family of choice is assigned a different filter than family of blood. Blood pours red from family wounds, but I don’t want that to be the only thing you see.

Even small injuries left untreated can leave gaping scars, but which of these should I hide?

Will you caress the light spots and the newly found age marks on my arms, asking what caused them?

Will you stare at the confusing confluence of red on my neck, becoming both bleached and blotchy when I’m flushed, and ask about my birth and all the marks it has made?

Will you see through my too-broad smile and into my throat, then down into the heart of me — further and further down — right into the depths from which all of my words arise?

Should I tell you about my pain or will we laugh until it hurts?

Which do you prefer? Which would you be able to live without?

There are so many questions, when it comes to who I am and who I want you to see.

When it comes time to open up and reveal myself to someone new, it all comes down to questions. Asking and answering. The listening and the letting in. I do tend to offer more than most want to chew, but that is one of the keys to my disarmament of others.

Opening up is a vulnerable action. It is also extremely empowering. And it’s the key to connection. But it is not always readily received. I ask, but will you answer? Will you inquire within?

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ~ Alice Walker

And so, here I am again, choosing where to flow, what to show. Looking deeply into each of your eyes, searching for that hidden story that made you into who you are. I search in order to see how much I can show you. And I find the sheer vastness of the emotional field is enough to quiet me again.

Puzzled, perplexed and pained, I fold back up into myself, creased and cornered. Choosing to maneuver myself into invisibility yet again.

Until next time, my new old friend…



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SR Atchley

SR Atchley

A writer, artist & dreamer, Shanna has been potentiating talent since childhood. She is moved by nature, the arts, and academia, along with the vast mysteries of our inner and outer worlds. Shanna has a BSN, and has spent the majority of her career caring for others. It is possible to share your dreams & talents with Shanna by emailing her, or connecting via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If all else fails, she’ll likely find you in a dream, in which case, please feel free to introduce yourself.
SR Atchley
SR Atchley