In Hiding

NOTE: This is a revised version of a post that originally appeared on this blog in 2017. I am choosing to share it again because it is relevant to a situation I’m living through now, and because I’ve made strides in this area that I wanted to share.

“Living your truth” is a big thing in the coaching field. Every coach I follow has said it at one time or another, and I definitely have used the phrase myself on more than one occasion.

The thing is, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do.

When you’ve been taught that you have to hide certain things about who you are, or who your family is, you learn that living your truth not only isn’t acceptable, it can be dangerous. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, someone might hurt you. At the very least, you might be shunned by the people around you.

Even though I advise others to live their truth, I haven’t always been out there showing everything about who I am. I’ve been in hiding about some things, because I’m one of those people who was taught to hide. As a child, I talked about things like communicating with the wind and trees. I told my parents when I “just knew” something was going to happen, and I shared my writing and stories with anyone who would listen.

I wasn’t praised for those things. I was told not to talk about the wind and trees because people would think I was “crazy.” My parents said the same thing about my “just knowing,” and also ranted at me about how little good it did to know those things since I couldn’t do anything to change them. While my parents tried to be supportive of my writing, and so did some of my teachers, my peers and other teachers made fun of me or at least of the stories I wrote.

I learned to hide.

Even as I type this, there are some things about myself that not everyone in my life knows. There are things about which I don’t talk to some people, and other things I don’t talk about at all.

Living your truth and speaking your truth are vital as you build the life you want to live, but sometimes you have to be more cautious than you would like about what you say and how you live around certain people. And that’s okay. If you’re just playing it safe because you don’t believe in yourself, that’s one thing; but sometimes it really is a matter not of *playing* safe but of *being* safe.

But knowing the difference matters too. Are you staying silent because speaking out would genuinely be unsafe, or because you’re afraid? Learn to recognize when fear is the reason you’re hiding, and work toward speaking despite your fear. Hiding doesn’t serve you or anyone else. I realized that, while in the past there were times when sharing my truth would have been genuinely unsafe for me, that ended years ago. It’s been safe for me to speak; I was just too afraid to do so. Realizing that my fears were not reality has made speaking my truth much more possible.

Your voice and your truth are two of the most important tools you have. Come out of hiding and start using those tools, and see how much you can create and grow.

That’s a lesson I’ve worked hard to learn. I’m coming out of hiding. And I look forward to sharing more of my truths with others.

Blocking People

On social media, I generally don’t block people unless they’ve either proven themselves to be dangerous in some way (in other words, directly threatening me) or I’ve found them to be detrimental to my mental health (such as an abusive ex).

However, lately I’ve found myself blocking more people for other reasons. I’m not happy about it; some of those people are ones I considered friends, or at least friendly acquaintances. I have respect for some of them in general.

But the pandemic and other current events in our world are leading to people showing their beliefs more and more, and there are some beliefs and teachings/preachings that I simply cannot and will not support.

Some statements and beliefs just frustrate me to the point that I need a break from them to manage my emotional reactions, and in that case I’m more likely to unfollow the person or, in Facebook terminology, “snooze” them. However, other statements and beliefs are things I see as having a strong potential to cause harm, and I won’t allow people who espouse beliefs I consider harmful to remain in any type of connection with me. I don’t hold anything against the people, but their statements and, in some cases, vilification of and threats toward those who don’t agree, aren’t acceptable to me.

I’ve learned not to try to debate or reason with these people. I’ve seen some flat out reject reliable, scientific sources as “I don’t consider that reputable.” At most times, I wouldn’t have the emotional bandwidth for a discussion with them; right now, as I’m trying to maintain and manage my health, I definitely don’t have it. So blocking them is to prevent myself from engaging in something that will take more energy than I have available as well as to prevent myself from seeing and appearing to support conspiracy theories and potentially harmful–and false–information.

It’s sad that so much divisiveness has come from the pandemic and the current political and social climate in the US. (It may be similar in other countries; I’m not in another country, so I’m only speaking from what I know and what I’ve seen.) Sometimes I think the real virus and the real threat is humanity being torn into factions and fighting against each other at a time when working together is the surest way to end the struggles.

It saddens me to lose people I considered friends because they’ve chosen to espouse beliefs I can’t support or accept. But that is their choice to make; my only choice is whether to continue a connection with them. Unfortunately, sometimes the choice I need to make is not to.

My Voice

As a child, I was taught not to use my voice, especially when it came to speaking about the things I knew to be true. My mother became easily overwhelmed when I talked “too much” (meaning, talked the way a young child typically would), and my father was horrified and upset if I talked about magic, having invisible friends, trees talking to me, or any of the other things that made up my world at the time. My father and other adults also told me not to talk unless I had something important to say, with the implication–and sometimes explicit statement–that nothing I had to say would ever be important.

Whether it was because of how adults treated me or something I would have experienced anyway, I also have always had a great deal of difficulty with expressive language. The ideas are there, in my brain, but sometimes the words to express them aren’t. And even when the words are there, sometimes I’m too afraid to speak because of what others might say or do. Anxiety about saying the wrong thing, about being accused of lying or having someone misunderstand me and get angry with me because of it, has been a constant in my life.

I also have difficulty comprehending what others say; sounds get into my ears just fine, but the words sometimes get jumbled or translated into gibberish as they reach my brain. This only adds to my difficulties with speaking and my anxiety about conversations.

As an adult, I lived for about fourteen years in a situation where speaking my truth was literally unsafe. I learned to be quiet no matter what was going on. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but self-preservation took over.

Now I’m in a safe situation, but with some people who don’t understand or don’t believe in the magic, energy, and other things I’ve rediscovered from my childhood. My entire business is based around those things, but I can’t talk about them to my husband or some other people in my life. They won’t harm me, but their eye-rolling and disrespect aren’t much better.

For many years, I’ve learned not to speak my truth, not to speak up for my needs, not to express my wants and dreams. Even as I started learning about energy, and knew that choosing to be silent would have negative effects on my throat chakra, which could lead to negative effects on my overall health and wellbeing, I was still too afraid to speak. I did energy work on my throat chakra, but didn’t carry that through to speaking up about what I believe in, my gifts and skills, and even who I truly am.

Now, in a couple of weeks, I will be having surgery to remove my thyroid. My immune system has been attacking a gland that resides in my throat, and on top of that there are growths on the thyroid. I had a biopsy that came back with no results due to an issue with the sample; I’ve since had a second biopsy that revealed abnormal cells, and we’re waiting for additional results to determine whether it’s cancer. These issues, and others I’ve experienced due to the deterioration of my thyroid, should be fully resolved by the surgery. But the surgery itself carries the risk of damaging my vocal cords. I could literally, and permanently, lose my voice.

I’m thinking about the positives. The risks are small and unlikely. However, I’m also thinking of how I got here. The fact that my constant and consistent refusal to use my voice has led me to a point where losing it is a possibility. The fact that this condition has been present for at least two years, worsening all that time as I continued not to speak even when I knew there was something wrong in my throat.

I’m learning to speak up now. It’s too late to correct what I’m facing, but I can correct the energies and the habits.

Speak your truth whenever and wherever it’s safe to do so. Use your voice. Avoid my choices, and make the ones that will most benefit you when it comes to speaking up.

Emotions Aren’t Bad

We’re taught that certain emotions are “bad” or wrong. We aren’t supposed to feel them. We’re supposed to suppress them and act like they don’t exist.

The top among these is anger. Especially if you’re a girl, or raised/socialized as one, you’re told to be quiet and “ladylike” and sweet. If you show anger, you’re bad.

This can be common in the spiritual practice world as well. If you’re truly spiritual, so the story goes, you don’t feel anger. You just accept and forgive everyone and everything and feel nothing negative at all ever, because if you do, you aren’t really spiritual.

Bullshit.

Anger, jealousy, fear…all the emotions that some people designate as “bad” are HUMAN emotions. If you’re a human being, odds are good that you feel emotions. Feeling anger is no more “bad” than feeling joy. Emotions are not good or bad; they just are. And trying to force yourself not to feel them often results in just stuffing the emotion down into a little box in your mind—a box that might burst somewhere down the line.

The key isn’t to stop *feeling* emotions. It’s to learn healthy and productive ways to *express* them.

Ultimately, we are each responsible for our own emotions and how we display them. Emotions are neither good nor bad; actions can be, but taking a negative action does not automatically make someone a bad person. 

Feeling emotions is NORMAL. Even emotions we’ve been taught are wrong or bad. Trying to suppress or ignore those emotions can be harmful to us and can lead to them coming up in less manageable ways down the road.

We also dishonor ourselves when we deny our emotions. Many of us who have experienced abuse and trauma have a child self living within our minds, a part of ourselves that became frozen at a time of trauma. In DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy, a technique often used in treating borderline personality disorder and PTSD among other things), that part of us is referred to as the “emotional mind.” In some forms of Witchcraft, it’s Younger Self. Whatever you call it, it’s a part of us, and it’s part of our healing journey to accept, nurture, and work with it. If we’re telling ourselves, “I can’t feel angry, it’s bad, I’m a bad person for feeling this way,” we’re continuing the abuse that damaged us in the first place. We’re taking the words and concepts forced on us by others and internalizing them, and that continues the damage.

Instead, I’ve found it’s far more productive to feel the emotion. To say, “I feel really angry, and that’s okay; how can I deal with this?” Even to express fear of feeling the anger, if that’s present for you. Some coping strategies for anxiety and PTSD can be used for anger as well.

Allowing yourself to feel those emotions and express them in *healthy* ways can help lessen them, and honors you as the awesome human you are.

You aren’t bad if you feel anger. You aren’t “not truly spiritual.” You are human, and you have the right to feel however you feel. You don’t have the right to express those feelings in harmful ways, but you one hundred percent have the right to feel them, and to express them in nonharmful ways. (And if you do express anger or another emotion in a way that’s harmful, that still doesn’t make you a bad person. It still just makes you human. Make apologies, make amends, and get help with learning more effective management strategies if it’s an ongoing problem… but accept yourself as a good person who just needs help to learn better responses to your emotions.)

As a final note, if you’re a parent, please teach your children that emotions are always okay to feel, and teach them healthy, productive ways to express them. Show them that they, too, are good people, and that you love them no matter what emotions they feel. Show them how to love and accept themselves even when the anger seems big and scary, or the jealousy overwhelms them, or the fear seems to cover everything else. Let’s break the cycle of people who believe and preach that it’s bad and wrong to feel human emotions—and the people who, because of those beliefs and preaching, believe that *they* are bad and wrong.