I no longer hide.
A friend posted the link noted above on her Facebook page and what a wonderful, timely reminder it was.
I've spent the majority of my life in hiding---shrouded in fear.
As a child, I feared that my thoughts, feelings, actions, and/or words would result in being repeatedly abandoned by my dad. As a teenager and those college-age years, my fear was in causing others to be hurt in physical or emotional ways---a by-product of observing what had happened to others who had become too close to my family (therefore me). People I had cared about had been incarcerated, placed in witness-protection programs and some had been emotionally and physically injured, even to the point of some dying or having been killed.
I wasn't so much protecting my own heart from others as I believed that I was protecting others from the harm caused by sharing in a relationship with me. Seems odd that I could feel so absolutely worthless, while at the same time, believing that I was powerful enough to control all.
A lifetime friend started me a turtle collection when I was in college as a symbol of how I hid and a reminder to keep sticking my neck out. Much of my adult life has been shadowed by the fear of disappointing others. So much so, that I lost myself along the way. I didn't dare think or speak outside of whatever box in fear of what the repercussions of doing such might have been.
In looking back, I think the 1st step in this un-hiding process was when I realized David's imminent death was inevitable (2008). Dave was the only person in my life that knew of my intense fears. He had been a down the street neighbor from 2 of my dad's criminal partners. David had witnessed car bombs, intentionally set fires, brutal fights and people simply disappearing from life. He didn't know all but he knew enough, by his own accounts, that he was the only person that truly felt safe. If something bad did happen to him, I knew it wouldn't solely be my fault and in a very dysfunctional way, that allowed me to allow David to see more of my heart than I allowed any other. His death was devastating. In our last viable communication, he strongly encouraged me to allow others to "see the real me" because he felt that anyone worthy of my love would see the beauty that he saw and not only feel pity or disgust. David's death rocked my soul to its core. I allowed his loss to harden me for a while. I believe that hardening was necessary for self-preservation and healing.
The next step occurred in 2009 just weeks prior to my dad's death. I had not spoken with him in a long while but knew that God was calling me to my dad's side, regardless of the discomfort, disgust, and disdain. I went into that day with my only prayer being that God would direct my every word and action; that God would strip away any anger, resentment, condemnation, etc. and truly make His presence known. That day was far from enjoyable but I had never been at such peace. I was able to see beyond my dad's theatrics, drama and manipulation. I almost felt like I was on the outside looking in and finally realized that I was not simply an extension of my dad's bad choices. I watched and listened and felt such sadness for him. His ensuing memorial and burial services were further testaments to a life not well-lived. The Lord sustained and guided my every step that day. And I tasted the sweetness of freedom and was beginning to realize I had nothing to fear. God was going to be with me regardless of place, time, or people involved.
In between David's death and the death of my dad, I spent some time in the hospital due to a life-threatening pharmaceutical mistake that took a few days to get straightened out. During that time, all barriers seemed removed because of the medicinal withdrawals and other meds to counter affect the withdrawal symptoms.
Apparently, I "opened up" quite a bit to both Randy and Angel as they sat with me at the initial stages. When I later realized what I'd said, I was horrifyingly embarrassed. Thankfully, both were surprised by these revelations but not appalled. They have stayed by my side, even more so since then. Further evidence that allowing myself to be me wasn't the world's worst thing.
Randy did set some up some new boundaries in our relationship because he felt like it was unwise for me to so heavily rely upon him when I was "scarily adept at hiding the deepest parts of my heart". These boundaries angered me at first but I am now so thankful that he had the insight to do such because that false-feeling of abandonment and ensuing irritation opened up opportunities for professional counseling experiences that have opened up my heart. Throughout the counseling, many deep-seated beliefs have been challenged and changed. My heart is healing (not necessarily in the ways I would have imagined) but the healing has graciously been accented with "kisses from heaven" along the way and I've never known such peace and hope.