So, sometimes life will ask you to harden yourself up.
Maybe it might take something from you so that you remember love is fragile.
Or maybe it might put something forwards so that you remember time can too easily be lost.
And sometimes it may remind you that not everyone is going to see things the way that you see them. That your way may not always be agreed on as the right way.
And that sometimes words that fall without care or kindness can make sensitive people like me feel very, very small.
Last week, a colleague at work reminded me of my place in the unspoken hierarchy. He bought tears to my eyes that I refused to let anyone see. He smashed a ding in my confidence that I refused to let anyone touch. He put me back in a place of self questioning and self doubt. A place that had taken many miles on the road to walk from and many years on the mat to breath into. It took his one sentence, repeated twice, to make me feel fragile and lost and small.
I spent 3 laying with stolen sleep. I tossed and turned, ruminating about what to do and how to do it. On how an un-hard person like me can harden up. On how un un-confrontational person like me can step up. On how to keep professional and personal separate.
When to me – a sensitive soul and a deep feeler – the two sides are simply shades of the same.
I wore pants and a pressed shirt when I went to face my nemesis. So I could believe that I looked stronger and somehow feel smarter. I rehearsed my words – and my perception of his deflections. I drove slow to work without the radio. So I could practice being my harder self without distraction. So I could concentrate on confrontation without the necessity of noise.
Until I realised I was practicing being someone pretending. Role playing to be indifferent and wearing a mask to be brave. And wearing this costume on my body and holding this fake sword across my heart was practicing trying to be someone other than simply myself.
Think abdominal twists, throat openers and brahmari breathing.
Words can fall like carelessly like splinters of glass across a concrete floor. Firstly, the primary focus is held on the big noise and fall out of the smash. There are big clunky pieces that you can pick up with your hands. Pieces easy enough to see so that you can wrap them in newspaper to put in the bin. But there can also be those tiny slithers of sharpness. Those small pieces that slide under the kicker of the bench. Those small pieces that bounce to opposite side of the room. Those small pieces that you don’t pick up immediately. Because you forget them with your hands and you miss them with your broom. You only find them when you chance to walk across them. They leave small splintered cuts in your feet. Slices that make your body pull inwards and contract. To protect you from pain. To protect you from bleeding. Contracting inwards and receding away from the that which makes you feel vulnerable and that which makes you feel weak. Until you limp around awkwardly, residing in a contracted space of yourself. That even though you find hard to understand, seems a safer place of self.
Only you walk very different.
And look smaller.
I walked into work to find my body feeling harder and my heart confrontationally stronger. Not because I’d stepped up and yelled back at a bully’s words. Not because I had screamed and ranted to HR. But because I held my head high and accepted that I am a sensitive soul. Remembering that I have an instinctual connection to intimacy that makes me feel things fully and makes me open myself completely. And in order to live a real and free life, you have to let yourself see so many colours and shades of the world. I won’t let myself be afraid of my feelings. I won’t let myself be made small by someone else’s small words. And I won’t let myself harden away from who I am and where I feel myself to be.
Because I know in my heart that if I do, I’ll start to step awkwardly through life like I have hidden splinters of glass in my feet.
And if I let myself be trained to walk like this, eventually, I’ll be left with feeling nothing at all.