Thursday, November 13, 2014

The attitude of isolation (Part 4): Welcome to the masquerade...

Before I start my friend Rebekah wrote a blog post and I read it the eve of posting this and I think it's awesome and you should so totally read it! It also borders on what I want to talk about here, to a degree anyway. She talks about loneliness and how we hide and I'm guilty of hiding myself, it's time to stop...

I have wrote up a few of my experiences and what I've learned from them, but unless you see me frequently you will have no idea who I am. How rude of me to not introduce myself!

I'm Neil, I'm a nerd. I'm (mostly) left handed, and have a proven INTJ personality type. I'm kinda English, kinda Scottish and kinda Russian. I like badgers, soup and heavy metal music.

See, you're getting to know me already.

Except you aren't, it's just information.

I'm in total control of the information I give out, and as such, the information was specially crafted to be just enough to inform you and make you feel like I was being open and honest, but it just was not quite enough to actually give you the ability to make any firm conclusions about me.

I'm quite skilled in manipulation like that. I swear I only use my powers for good, well, if not good, certainly not evil! Well... Not until "the machine" is finished anyway...

See, I did it again, I crafted (I won't say funny though) a-designed-to-be-amusing little comment intended to put up a barrier between us to stop you getting too close by making you feel like you are.

The reality is I wear a mask and it's like one of those mirror/window things you see in police shows, very much like one in fact, let me explain.

These devices are not what they appear, the magic of glass on one side a mirror on the other. Except it's not, it's just glass, regular two way glass. The trick is one room is brightly lit while the other is in darkness. The light in the brightly lit room reflects off the bright white walls and reflects off the glass causing a mirror effect. You see, if you turned the light on in the dark room that "mirror" would very quickly reveal the illuminated darkness and the suspect can see who is identifying them.

My mask isn't a mask, it's just a piece of glass, the outside shines bright and I keep the inside in darkness so that no one can see into me.

When you are developing as a young person, you need to stretch and grow into who you are. I didn't have that luxury. I had to retreat into a dark little corner of myself, put up the glass and let others reflection of themselves be what they thought I was.

It worked... Too well.

There was a fundamental issue with this, it assumed that people on the other side of the glass were a threat to me. For a time this was certainly true, but it isn't any more, or at least I'm statistically less likely to find someone actively out to try and hurt me these days. Yet the glass remained in place. It was safe, comfortable, even. The thing is, while I could now see wonderful people and situations on the other side of my glass, I couldn't interact with it and they had no idea who or what was on my side of the glass.

I had two things I needed to do, I had to light up my darkness and break down my glass, not exactly an easy thing to do. After all, this is a coping mechanism I've had for years, so long in fact I can't remember not having it.

From my point of view illuminating the darkness is the easiest element and the place to start. I begun to do this by looking through into what felt like another world, one I could see, but not feel, a world that I wanted to be a part of and revealing my presence seemed like a good way to introduce myself. 

So I begun to let myself be known and I found out that the more I revealed, the more people seemed to like me. For example it has been pointed out to be that I have a very dry tone/sense of sarcasm and a flair for being overly dramatic, especially when I re-tell the stories that happened to me. Observational evidence (and outright statements by others) affirm that this combination seems to generally be regarded as "amusing".

So under the surface I appear to have a sense of humour, one that is seemingly socially acceptable, but rare enough that it has some punch. I didn't actually realise any of this until I let myself be known and opened up to other people. 

I had a choice, listen to the voice in my head, the one that says I'm not worth knowing or that others are only being polite or I can listen to my friends who feedback and contradict what I think about myself.

I could pick many examples where this has been true over and over, but I don't yet feel comfortable doing so. I'm still a work in progress, I hope you understand.

The fact of the matter is though as I have begun to open up and show myself to others I am learning that the more I open up the more I feel safe without having to hide in my darkness.

And now that I'm comfortable with being in the light I have to then attempt the harder part. Fully and unreservedly engaging with the wider world. It's an ongoing learning experience, but I'm slowly learning what I need to do...

... And it's much better on the other side of the glass.

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