Have you ever hidden in plain sight? We all do it. From childhood. From the times we start hearing “don’t do this or do that to please me / be loved / belong”.
Some children and adults rebel. They go and do exactly the opposite. With a pair of balls… as we say in Spain.
I used to be ballsy. Up until about 7 years old. Then I caught on that pretending and hiding in plain sight worked really well for me. I got on with everyone. I succeeded. I achieved. I was a golden child. And I got addicted to praise and validation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Until now. Yes, I know. I’m a walking, talking, blogging cliché - a 40-something-year old woman who’s realised she's been too nice, too accommodating, too giving, too conventional, too untrue to her self. Yawn. Read me out and see whether you may be hiding in plain sight too. You may have been hiding so well and for so long it’s like you’ve ALWAYS been hiding. Except you haven’t. There was a time when you and I were living from our essence, flowing freely like diagonal rain in Scotland. Operating from our core. Unimpeded. Telling it like it was. Unedited. Yes, that was a long time ago…
So what has prompted me to forgo my hiding place? I had a very deep conversation with my mum recently. The type we never have anymore (we used to when I was in my 20s and all I could talk about was the meaning of life, numerology, and whether my latest crush was “the one”). Why? I was going through some bad skin problems. Basically my face was covered in hives. Talk about psychosomatic symptoms - there was so much I wasn’t facing up to, my face exploded in… erm, my face? I’ve written before about this (A slap in the face). The gist of what my mother said was:
There is nothing in your life that is only yours.
Bam! There you have it. I’ve been hiding so freaking perfectly in my role as mother, wife, housewife, and generic over-achiever at everything that I couldn’t even find myself anymore. The skin rashes were literally my body’s cries for attention. “Where the fuck are you?” I could almost hear them scream.
I had taken it too far, this whole hiding palaver. Now, in all honesty, I once wanted nothing more than to be a mum and a housewife. Desperately. Nobody put a gun in my head and said “Off you go now - become an expat wife, host to perfection, and loose yourself in a pretty idle yet idyllic life”. Nope. Not even my long-suffering (and fellow perfect host) husband. Life made me wait far too long to be a mum - I should have got the drift. But I didn’t. I wanted to hide my existential malaise in a perfect home, with a perfect family life. And that’s what I eventually got.
And now? Well, now my skin has spoken. All that stuff I was pushing down (unaware) in hiding has come out to bite me in the face. All the sticky shadowy stuff? Yes, it’s here. All the unanswered questions? Yes, all pushing and shoving for attention. All the consequences of my inner disconnection? Happily roaming free for all to see. Hiding for years under the veneer of a “conventionally happy life” didn’t get rid of any of this.
Caring for others at the expense of caring for myself is futile. My needs being last on my own “to do” lists is self-defeating. Suppressing my own doubts in an attempt to make them disappear just doesn’t work. (A whole lotta people hide in the opposite way - working their arses off. Same kettle of fish.)
I need to carve out something for me that is only for me. Reconnect with my innermost self, that which is not related to any role I currently fulfil. Not related to others. I need to turn my attention to filling up my life with stuff that is just mine (read my other post There is very little of me in my life).
Now, of course, a large part of this is tied into what we call “work” or “career”. And that’s what I’ve been involved in for the past year - setting up my coaching practice. My mum said “The home is a closed circle and you have to find space outside that circle”. Working from home isn't always the best option because I need to physically disentangle myself from all the duties and responsibilities that come attached to that space, that I CREATE. It's an absolute minefield for a distracted mind. For me, because I am a perfectionist and I am so driven to be good at everything I do, even being a housewife - which can be very relaxing I’m sure for some people - was always a very long list of to dos. A list that never ended, because that’s what housework is like. Neverending.
When I stopped working in an office environment the novelty was in having the freedom to be at home and be able to do what I liked. And yes, do housework, but also spend time doing lots of other things at my own pace. But a number of years into that and, adding the inevitable stress of motherhood to that mix, it has become clear that I need some space from that inner circle of the home so that I can come back to it with energy and with a different focus. I’m too mixed in with that circle. There’s no separation and it’s not doing me any good.
Now every time my skin tingles ever so slightly I know that I’ve not taken care of myself, of my innermost needs and wishes. That I’ve gone too far in meeting people / demands / expectations (of my own as well as others). That I need to regroup again. Reconnect inside. Mother my own self before I attempt to mother my son. Become intimate with my self before I connect intimately with my husband. Be a good friend to myself before I rush out to be best pal to someone.
"Find something that is only yours" - said my mother. Well, finding me would be a good place to start.