A shy and hesitant soul steps out of the hiding of her false self and reveals a secret. I want to telepath to the rest of the group – “Shhhh, she is revealing her soul, be careful of what you say or do.”
During a Bible study long ago, I shared a secret and the room fell into complete silence. I remember thinking – feeling – “shit, how do I backtrack and conceal what is real”. The vulnerability I felt at that moment was painful. I do not know what the ladies thought when I exposed this secret of mine. I do not know if I shocked them all into silence or they just did not know what to say. I was painfully aware that I was exposing a truth about myself and I was facing the possibility of rejection.
I cried on the way home, and as I was sniffling at a traffic light waiting for it to turn green, a question formed. “What did I expect them to say?” Did I want their validation that I should not be ashamed of this secret? Did I want their pity? No, what I wanted was a safe place, to be honest. When I revealed, I felt the shame, and I wanted the group to take away the shame. They did not – nor should they have. The lesson was mine to learn – if I wanted honesty then I needed to learn to stand proudly in the experiences that made me who I am. Their silence gave me the space to test that ability and to show them and myself that the truth would set one free.
I went back to the group, and no one spoke a word about the secret I shared. I did not apologize nor did I hang my head in shame. If I wanted to be within a group who was honest, I was going to have to learn to be okay with what I shared. I tried to learn a balance of when to share and when not too. I asked questions that I believe some were afraid to ask and I answered questions with sincere and honest answers. Over time a friendship formed out of this group – a friendship I cherish. A friendship my soul longed for. In her friendship, I have learned to be real, and it has changed my life.
Now when I am in a group or one on one with someone, I am as transparent as I can be without coming on too strong – I am still learning the balance of give and take – to give enough to reveal and to listen enough to see if there is a connection. I do not have a deep connection with all of the people I come in contact with; one must learn to be guarded in some relationships. A person only needs one to be real with, I am lucky to a have a few. Yes, those few who are reading this blog, I am speaking of your friendship.
I have found if I listen carefully, I will be able to sense when someone is trying to be transparent. When I see it – I find it beautiful. It is the one who says a word or a sentence to reveal a deeper meaning – a truth of an experience that made her who she is today. I want to say to her “I see you – you brave, brave soul.”
But the soul is like a shy deer stepping into the clearing, barely revealing itself to you. And you know if you speak or move, it will retreat to safety, so you remain quiet and marvel at the wonder.
And if, by chance, I make eye contact – I want her to know I heard her – I saw the marvelously brave thing she just did. I want her to know I caught a glimpse of her true self and I am in awe.