Monday, April 19, 2010

At Arms Length

You know those rare and precious moments in life when you find a friend with whom you can share your inner most secrets without facing judgement? Someone with open arms with whom you can expose all of your weaknesses, your faults, your insecurities, your hopes, your dreams? I shared one of those precious moments this weekend with my friend Amy. At her request (or rather, demand!) and with much protest from me, I opened up and showed Amy a side of me that I always keep hidden. And what she showed me in return has changed my life.

I am, by nature, a pusher; I want to probe into the deepest parts of who you are and how you work. I don't wade in the shallow waters; I dive in deep right off the bat. I try to draw out the best in people, to help them see how great they are, to fix their problems. I am every one's savior, their therapist, their mirror, their friend. I want people to dig deeper; to develop relationships that go beyond the surface. But in order to do that, they have to open up to me. Yet, despite my relentless pursuit of the inner workings of my friends, I still keep them at arms length from ME. Why? Because I am afraid. I am afraid of what they might see; of what they might not like; of how they might judge me; of being abandoned. So instead of risking judgement and abandonment, I keep people at arms length; just close enough that we have fun, but not so close that I risk losing their friendship.

Until this weekend, I had NO IDEA how uncomfortable being called upon to dig deeper truly is! This weekend, Amy called me out. She said that I wanted to know the real her but that I wouldn't let her in to see the real me, and that's not fair. She called me on the carpet for holding back and hiding secrets; for being shallow and not digging deeper in my own life. And you know what? That's got to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings I've ever had in my life. To have someone waiting, arms crossed and toes tapping, for me to spill my guts. It was a terrifying experience! "What if I share these things and she rejects me?", I thought. "I can't just give up that much information about's just too raw." But you know what? This is what I call on other people to do all the time. So I did it. I poured out my soul to her. And much to my surprise, she didn't reject me! For the first time in a really long time, I allowed someone to come into my life and see all the nasty, dirty secrets that I hide. I've kept Amy at arms length, always holding back just a piece of me...just enough to keep her from coming in and seeing the mess that is the inner workings of my life. But not any more.

This weekend, I let open the flood gates. And when the flood of my emotions came raging at her like a gushing river breaking a dam, Amy stood tall and strong. She did not waver, anchored like a mighty Sequoia in the midst of a raging storm. And when the flood receded, there she stood...untouched, unfazed...and still my friend. You cannot imagine what an amazing experience that was. To pour out my soul and have her understand and affirm me, despite my mountain of faults. But more important than her standing by me, was what she showed me. Sometimes, you have to be weak to be strong.

I have put up so many walls of protection from other people that I find it difficult to even know and understand my own inner most workings. I've put up so many walls that I've blocked out the one person I seek the most...ME. I cannot understand who I am this way. I know the "why"...why I do or think some of the crazy things I do. But I don't know the "how" to fix ME. But I caught a glimpse of the "how" this weekend thanks to my dear friend Amy. I've learned that it's OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to not be perfect. It's OK to fail. But I have to love myself in the process and strive for continued learning. And I've got to let other people love stop keeping them at arms length. That doesn't mean that I've got to share every deep, dark secret I have. Just that I've got to start breaking down the walls and letting people in. I've got to do the very thing that I call on others to do...dig deeper. Only then will I be the person, the friend, the lover, the mother that I desire to be. Only then will I find ME!


  1. sounds like you needed that weekend and it was so great that Amy was there for you. Though i am finding it a little hard to believe that open book Christy is hiding secrets. JK, hugs!

  2. I missed not being there but it sounded like you needed the one on one time with Amy. I've been thinking about walls and acceptance a lot the last couple months. There is nothing weak about sharing the deeper parts of yourself ~your heart~ and taking the risk that it might not be what others want. It's wonderful to find out that it is ok, safe and appreciated. You have been one of those type of friends to me, Christy. You have changed my life. I'm so glad you like to dive deep! I love that about you!