“You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.”
If I had a nickel for every time someone has said this to me, I could melt them all down and wear them as my suit of armor. Except I already use my strength to do that. I nearly cringe when people say this to me now, because it makes me feel like the biggest fraud. I know the truth.
I’ve tricked you all.
My strength is my shield, my wall, my mask, my defense mechanism. It’s what I hide behind so I don’t let anyone know that I am an empath who has an anxious attachment style, is highly intuitive and one of the most sensitive hearts you’ll ever meet. But I don’t let a lot of people see/know that because I’ve been hurt far too many times in my life by the people who were supposed to love me the most. It was my coping mechanism and what I relied on to survive.
I’ve spun my strength into a persona because I am uncomfortable af when I let it down long enough to show my weakness and expose my heart through vulnerability. I’ve definitely become more vulnerable and will share parts of myself, but there’s almost always a caveat. If you haven’t noticed before, every time I write about something hard and sad, I ALWAYS spin it into something positive, finishing with how I’ll overcome because that’s what I do and BETH IS ALWAYS STRONG. I always have to remind everyone that I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m not really as fucked up as they might think. God forbid anyone think otherwise. I try to control people’s perception of me by beating them to the advice I know they’ll try and give me. Because the worst thing you can do (in my mind) is pity or feel sorry for me. It’s so uncomfortable for me to receive other people’s compassion and not spin it into that there is something wrong with me instead of it just me being human or a shitty situation I am in.
The problem with this is, I’ve worn a mask for as long as I can remember. I resent people for not being there for me, for not being able to see past the mask and to not just know how bad I hurt sometimes. I’ve felt taken for granted, under-appreciated and misunderstood. I’ve felt like I didn’t belong and I wasn’t worthy. And I used to blame other people for this. Honestly, I still do a little bit. I was/am the victim and they were shitty people who should get it, who should SEE ME. THE REAL ME. NOT THE PERSON WITH THE MASK ON. Except how could they? How would they? I’ve perfected wearing this mask and may as well be an Oscar-winning actress. At this point, my strength has become my identity and my curse.
It was born out of necessity and that’s the part that I’m desperately trying to come to terms with. Stepping back to observe that this is what I needed to do to survive in my life. Giving myself grace for doing what I needed to do or trying to as this is also something I have a hard time doing. At the same realizing that it is no longer serving me and I have to lay it down once and for all. Or at least for much longer increments than I have been. I NEED TO BE SEEN. I want the connection that can only come when you allow your heart to be exposed and your weakness to be known. I’ve managed to do this with a few people in my inner-circle to an extent, but there is still growth there to happen. The truest form of strength is standing sans armor and handing someone the knife that could potentially pierce your heart. It is in the submit. It’s the willingness to break down every wall you have built to protect yourself and take your chances to receive.
The truth. I’m not always strong. When I was 17, I almost committed suicide. Several times.There are times when I’m not sure how I am still standing here. I’ve not said that aloud to more than 1-2 people before. I’m just now unpacking all that pain that I somehow managed to stuff down back then and stay breathing.
The truth. It’s nearly impossible for me to communicate my needs. I have no problem saying what I think, but not what I need. My throat locks up and I nearly give myself a panic attack even thinking about having to have an uncomfortable conversation. I’m afraid if I communicate my needs, people will either not meet them or they’ll leave as that what has almost always happened in my life.
The truth. I’m so sad that at almost 42, I’m still waiting to be loved. Like REALLY loved. The woman behind the strength. The real me. Not because people haven’t tried, necessarily, but because I wouldn’t let them. And I wonder if I’ll ever know what that feels like.
And see, now I don’t even know how to end this blog post because this is where I would spin it so you don’t pity me or think I’m super fucked up.
But, I’m not going to do that this time.