I'm Letting Down My Guard.....Slowly
I tend to have a wall up. The type of wall where I'm open and willing to meet new people, but my guard is still up. And, depending on the vibe I get, I might choose to maintain a surface level relationship. I'm not proud of it and I didn't realize how much it was impacting me until my sister asked me whether I truly open myself up to other people and if those same people know who I really am. I was taken aback by her questions and thought to myself "Of course I do, I open up when I feel that I have something going on." I didn't pay much attention to it at the time but now, I've started reflecting on all my personal relationships and I realize that I have some work to do. There are probably people reading this thinking "Dominque is always nice, friendly, and welcoming." It's true, and that comes easily and naturally to me because at a certain point, you can keep people at distance and not allow them to get any closer.
The root of my wall stems from past hurt. I've been so betrayed and bruised by past relationships and friendships that I just decided it was easier to maintain a protective shell. If you don't let people in, they can't hurt you. There is nothing worse then having someone you call a "friend" or a "significant other" take advantage of you and express no remorse after seeing the damage they have caused. Don't get me wrong, these were basic, juvenile life lessons but each experience took a small piece from me. I learned to get over it and move on but little by little, my interactions with new people weren't as welcoming and I would base our first meeting off whether or not we would continue hanging out. From there, I decided to maintain surface level friendships without revealing to much about myself. This also seeped into my dating life because there was no way I would let the men truly get to know me after what I've experienced.
While I was on another one of my late night social media scroll sessions, I came across a thread on Twitter that talked about how people tend to use their past trauma as way to keep people out. People keep bringing up how they were hurt and eventually, it becomes an excuse as to why we refuse to move on and don't let others in. The whole time I was reading it, I was shaking my head and thinking "Yep, that's me." It has become this vicious cycle of holding onto pain and letting that form my opinion about people that I meet in the future. My shell was so hard that I started seeing vulnerability and talking about my personal feelings as a weakness. There was no way that I would allow someone to see that side of me because they could use that later on to hurt me. It even occurred to me that this could be a source of my anxiety. Too much internalizing and not enough expressing.
I want to be free and I want to do better by giving people a chance. Starting this website with my two friends has been a positive step forward because it allows me to express my thoughts and feelings when I feel like I can't voice them. I don't consider myself to be some important person that everyone needs to know but I owe it to the people in my life to be more transparent. It's only fair. It's not easy and I encourage anyone who deals with the same issues to make an effort to do better. Seek therapy, let the people in your life know that you care about them by opening up, and allow yourself to be embraced. Whenever you open yourself to someone, there is a risk of being hurt but I'm learning that not everyone is the same and there are people with good intentions. Trust yourself and your instincts. They won't steer you wrong.