Show And Hide: Do We Give Up On Coming Together?
Quite a few of us, I am sure, can recognize the phenomenon of showing and hiding different parts of ourselves.
We do this to try and offer what we feel is wanted or needed by others. We do this to feel comfortable and safe. We do this to avoid pain.
To a certain extent, this might feel okay. We want to be part of a group. We are hardwired to need social interaction, but looking deeper and breaking down why this can feel so bad, I see that this step towards harmony can sometimes feel very tenuous.
What are our fears? That we may be rejected? Passed over? That others may be preferred or achieve the closeness that we are denied? But looking deeper, is this pain not located in the forming and folding of a group?
Look at it like this: we are like a jigsaw piece.
When separate, we are complete, an individual piece. When part of the jigsaw, there is a continuum between us and the rest, a coming together of lots of smaller pieces.
The tricky part is the coming together and the coming apart. Do we fit together?
There is a lot of awkward twisting and twiddling to find this out. Am I really the piece that fits? Am I a sneaky bit of sky trying to fit into the sea? Finally, I slot into the gap and join the continuum (hope I don’t get lost under the sofa).
I add to the bigger picture.
Later the jigsaw is dismantled, and I experience similar sticking points on the way to becoming a single entity again.
Life though is even more complicated, is it not?
Jigsaw pieces are set shapes, defined and clear-edged. People are not so — they change, expand, contract, and this coming together and apart can be painful and confusing and we lose ourselves therein.
I find group interactions stressful. My go-to place is always being alone.
Stressful day? Have a bit of time to myself. Hurt by someone? Hold it till everyone is asleep and I can let go (keep it nice and sanitized for them). I often feel somewhat replenished, but it is never quite enough time to feel that I have redefined my edges, that I know where I am. I am beginning to wonder if enough time can really exist.
Moreover, I find myself very low in the moments of silence, that if I had dispersed some of my discomfort at the time, bit by bit, then this might shift.
Repressed is an ugly word that conjures up images of a generation of women gone before never feeling allowed by society to show their emotions, having secret sex or unsatisfying sex lives, and left behind. But in our open, slap-it-on-the-counter-madam society, our sexuality is laid bare and encouraged, but our schizophrenic sets of norms are often labelled as irrational and volatile when we express anger or cry.
So do we give up on coming together? Do we stick a toe in the ocean now and then, and reserve the whole body for bath time?
It seems it is easier for some of us to experience this coming together and parting than others. I have a suspicion that drugs and alcohol play a part in smoothing the process for many of us.
If no man is an island, then surely none of us can avoid closeness altogether. We might have superficial relationships in the workplace or at our child’s school, even with close family members, but we know our souls sing when we experience communion with other like-hearted people.
I want to encourage you, as I am encouraging myself, not to give up. To keep searching for your missing and hidden pieces and take them with you, serve them up on a plate to those you really want to see them, to witness them.
So get out there this week and enjoy the heartbeat of others whilst fully embodying the thrum of your own.
Naomi Long is perfectly imperfect in every way. She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and throws herself into motherhood, running a company and being a student… she will always be a student. When she is living from her ‘bracket of acceptability’, she is like a whirlwind of sense-making functionality. When she misses a step, she is like Dorothy in the tornado… she is trying to spend more time in the tornado. Naomi writes pieces and poems about human experience, she likes to photograph, and sing about beauty. She loves to travel, and lived in Thailand for seven years. For the past eight years, she has been running an alternative school in London.