Being known is scary. It really is. Especially if a long-term strategy for you has been to withdraw and hide away in order to protect yourself. There’s something about closing the door to others before being hurt - before being known - that is very reassuring. The more you share about yourself, the more you may feel like losing control, and giving to others information that could be turned against you. If you have been hurt by someone you happened to be closed with, someone you used to trust with your own vulnerability, then it’s a type of wound that can also tend to hurt over and over, through repeated cycles.
Hiding has been a strategy to ensure safety in your own world, but you’re also becoming aware of how limiting it can be, because it makes you give up on people and places that you may grow attached to. There’s two forces in tension and it’s exhausting. Even though hiding gives a sense of controlled freedom, you’re quickly faced with the limit of how much of yourself is okay to share or not in a given environment - a limit that is somehow arbitrary, but makes sense to you and is aligned to the way you feel. When you reach this limit though, it feels like there’s a need to just go away and start all over somewhere else… until the next place. For many of us safety has been learned as a constant exile. Not a complete isolation, but a very controlled dynamic of give and take with others. It’s absolutely okay to recognize it, and I hope you know that you are not doomed to constantly have to bargain between your personal aspirations and your emotional needs, even if it is an experience that has yet to be.
To be honest, even though I work here, my “irl” life and my “heartsupport” life have always been strictly delimited. My partner respects the need I have for him to not connect here, join Discord or attend the streams before. I discuss about my work with him, I share about the friendships I have here at times, but it’s ones that I choose to share. My sister does not even know the name of this place either. I’m used to mention it as “the organization I work for”. When we have video calls, I make sure to not wear a HS shirt. Sometimes I block her on my socials just for the time necessary to share something about a HS friend or something that would connect me to this place. The people I work with here also know my need for privacy, and it’s always been respected. I don’t want people to connect dots for me, because I already know how it feels to have consent being removed and turned against me. In practice, I opened the door of HS many times because withdrawing is a key strategy to me. I never left physically, but I leave this place emotionally quite often, because it’s still scary to put myself out there, and to control what is visible or not. If someone knows me enough, they see it but respect it. They don’t force connection but they also don’t forget me, and that’s all I need in my close circle.
Sometimes it feels like I’ve been too invested for a given time, and an internal red flag appears in me, telling me “nope, this is it, you’ve crossed your presence limit, time to go!”. The urge is strong to go away and bail out on everything. But over time I’ve been trying to see this urge as the manifestation of wounds I keep carrying. It’s a misplaced response to a real need. A learned survival strategy. So I respect my need to withdraw, but I also don’t let it overshadow everything, because I know already how much it can lead towards isolation, and how destructive it can be. I let myself ride through it, knowing that it needs to be temporary - and not become the final answer to this need for safety/protection.
I don’t know if any of the above would resonate with you. I guess what I’m trying to say is: how you feel is not a manifestation of personal failure, or that you would be condemned to be constantly running. There’s a path between, even if it seems absolutely impossible to see it. I believe you do feel this possibility though, but it has yet to be fully embraced, and that’s okay. Over time, it is possible to reunite both the need to be known truly for who you are and to be safe at the same time. You may have learned this as being not compatible before, and a part of your own healing/journey may be in re-conciliating both, little by little, with the knowledge of what you’ve already been through. It’s about re-balancing what you’ve learned from hurt.
Something I find quite amazing with this community, is that it’s a great place to explore this discomfort, to fail, to withdraw eventually, but to still have a safe place to come back to - one that gives us the possibility to experience firsthand that it’s okay. It’s okay to tip toes in the water then to want to run away. It’s okay to push through and try to put your feet in it. It’s okay to walk back and try again later. It’s all about experimenting and trying out, while also listening to this part of you that knows intimately that hiding doesn’t need to be a systematic solution. When you try and see how it makes you feel, you are creating opportunities for healing and restoration. For closure regarding previous wounds that have consequences that would still affect you today and in your relationships.
My therapist told me once how much she hates the idea of “getting out of our comfort zone”, but instead learning through practice to extend it. “Too much comfort” is scary when visibility feels like threat. Although you are also experiencing the discomfort of extending your zone of safety because you gain from it, and that is such a huge sign of growth. Just by being here and posting this today - whether you close your topic or not -, you are trying, you are experimenting. If in many instances of life this could be judged, or seen as “weird”, that’s not the case here - and hopefully you can find comfort in the fact that you do have control over this, over how much an explorer of your own healing you can be.
I’m so thankful for knowing you. I don’t need to know you personally or entirely. I’m thankful for all the parts of you that you choose to share with this community. It’s always a gift, not a given. Rest assured that your presence is never taken for granted but is an honor. You have allies here who have your back and are willing to protect your peace, to protect you alongside you, while following your pace and needs. You are allowed to be, and to feel safe while being.
Love you friend.