Walls of False Protection


I just started a new book recommend to me by a good friend, and I am loving the story and the writing and the messages.  

 The story begins with an elderly woman who has recently lost her husband and had received a diagnosis confirming that her time is short. She is looking through an old trunk of hers that she hasn’t opened in thirty year. She picks up an identification card, the sight of which cause her hands to tremble, and at that moment her son comes into the attic looking for her.   

“My instinct is to toss the card into the trunk and slam the lid down, hiding it again. It’s what I have done all my life.”

“If I had told him the truth long ago, or had danced and drunk and sung more, maybe he would have seen me instead of a dependable, ordinary mother. He loves a version of me that is incomplete. I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.”  The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

 That line stays with me, like a dream that wakes you up in the night clinging to your thoughts: “I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known.”

 “I’d like to be known.”

There she stands, at the end of her life, looking back, and she simply wishes to be known. To been seen for who she is, not this incomplete version that she has been showing to others. I’m not very far into the book so I don’t know her story yet. Why has she only allowed her son to know a part of who she really is?

 Why do we? We do we only allow others to know an incomplete version of who we are? And why do try to hide who we are from ourselves? Why is it hard to let others know us?

We put so much time and energy into building walls, thinking we are building walls of protection. If we have walls then we can’t be hurt by others or we can’t hurt them. Right? Wrong! It’s a false sense of security like a child who hides beneath the blankets for protection from whatever is out there.

Not seeing it won’t keep you safe. Ironically it keeps you susceptible to being hurt.

In an interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife she talked with me about making yourself known to others.

Jennifer: So there’s a difference between being at peace with who you are and thinking you must make all of that privy to all people. You can make a distinction about what you explicitly share, which is the issue of privacy and propriety.  For example, I am comfortable with who I am but I make decisions about when it’s appropriate or with whom I want to share more fundamental parts of myself with.

Sherrae: That makes sense.  It’s not about embarrassment guiding your decision about what you share and don’t share.

Jennifer: No, it’s not about self-rejection. It’s like when I met my husband, I just kind of immediately could feel this is a person I wanted to share more of myself with. And fairly quickly I was showing him more of my heart and soul than I had with maybe any man at that point. I felt I could and I started to show him who I was and I could track him enough to know that he was receptive to it.

But it’s a decision.  Is this someone I would like to know me and with whom I want to share who I am with?

Sherrae: It seems like making yourself known is truly just done by the way that you live your life. The stronger sense of self you have the more real you are and the more authentic you are.

Jennifer: And the more knowable you are.

Sherrae: And it seems the most transparent you’ve become because you’re not hiding anything, but it’s not like you’re telling everybody all the details about yourself either.

Jennifer: Yes, it’s different.

It’s not about not masking and managing a picture. Even if you’re keeping a lot of privacy about the specifics of your life, it’s more about having a sacred space for yourself, but it’s not about masking or managing. That’s what’s different.

I remember having a missionary companion and I remember feeling like every week I sort of had a different companion.  She did a great deal of managing how she was perceived. And it was really hard to know her because she masked who she was and manipulated the picture of who she was.  So it was always changing. I think she had tremendous amount of anxiety about being known or exposed.

So anyway, I think there are those people you kind of feel you know them and you can track them and trust them pretty quickly, which is different than knowing the details of their life.