word drift

a collection of musings and snippets from my life

blue skies with wisps of cloud

open up, dear heart: on being vulnerable, the fears and joys

One night, less than a year and a half ago, I laid in bed on the phone to a friend, trying to balance my side of the conversation while resisting the pull of sleep.  We’d had many calls like this, hours lasting beyond midnight.  Our conversations flowed, naturally switching between topics with ease. I remember telling him that one night: ‘I’ve never really liked opening up completely. It makes me feel so.. naked.’

I have always been a rather private person, preferring to hold my feelings close than baring them all.  Don’t share too much, don’t let anyone too close.  My girl group in high school was led by a very toxic individual. I cannot deny that she wasn’t without her own insecurities but she preyed on ours, manipulated us at will, treated us as if we were disposable. At the time, it sadly became my ‘normal.’ I never truly realised the full extent of her parasitic influence until I was able to completely extricate myself from her.  But looking back, deep down, some part of me wanted to protect myself.

I had no problem when it came to discussing my thoughts and opinions on certain topics.  However, when it came to personal things, I was guarded. Then I started university and met two wonderful people who would become close friends.  Kind, genuine characters.  With the first, we clicked right away with our sarcasm and easy banter.  We got to know each other and something inside me changed, opened up a little. I will always cherish the memory of us trekking up Calton Hill at night, sitting side by side on the National Monument, talking about anything with the city lit up before us.

And with the second friend, it took us about a year before we became remotely close.  That’s when the real change happened as I offered up more trust little by little. Small steps, maybe, but larger steps than I’d ever taken before.  I had never met someone quite like this, who I felt so finely in tune with. This level of connection I never even knew I yearned for so hungrily.  And I felt so completely comfortable, not only free to be myself, but unafraid.  It was oddly liberating. I always thought that revealing my inner world, in turn making me vulnerable, would be the scariest thing I could put myself through.  But when I built that trust with this friend, when my heart told me to take a leap of faith, it felt like the right thing to do.  And it was. Remember the friend I mentioned at the start?  This is him. We’ve been together for over 15 months now.

That was only the beginning.  Gradually, I reached out to a couple of other friends, those who I realised I could trust.  And I opened up, tentative at first, starting with what I felt comfortable with and then pushing this ever so slightly. I never rushed, only sharing as much as I wanted, always at my own pace.  Was it scary? Yes, of course, putting yourself out there – feelings and all – it’s not easy. At least not for me. But what I hadn’t realised before, what I failed to see because I was so afraid of being hurt, was that I would get so, so much out of it.  It brought me closer to the people around me, deepened our understanding of each other and blossomed our relationships.

It even helped when I finally saw a counsellor.  Before then, I always thought counselling wouldn’t help, that a stranger couldn’t possibly understand anything about me. But when things came to a head and I couldn’t put it off any longer, I applied for counselling and promised myself I would be as honest as possible. I needed to tell her everything in order to heal. And I did, I poured my heart out in our first session together. It was overwhelmingly relieving, so much so that I ended up crying. Scary? Yes. But rewarding all the same.

Building trust and opening up isn’t a process that happens overnight. It takes time and is different for everyone. It could be weeks, months or even years and that’s okay.  We do what we feel is best for us.  I used to bottle everything up inside me, tight to my chest, and I didn’t make words of them and bring them out of me.  The right people hadn’t come along yet but once I found them, they also made me realise that maybe I already had other people around me who I could trust too. I suppose what I’m getting at is that in the past, some people may have hurt me and made me feel invalid but that doesn’t mean everyone will, nor should I close my doors to all.  Taking that risk, that leap of faith – I don’t regret it at all and I am certainly a happier person because of it, with meaningful connections I so hope will continue to grow and grow.

And you, dear reader, please do share your thoughts on opening up if you are comfortable doing so. How does it make you feel?

Much love,
Beverley

Share

25 Comments

  1. Reply 14th January, 2017 at 2:33 am

    I feel this post so much!

    It’s honestly so scary opening up and making yourself vulnerable to people.
    I find it way easier to open up to my online friends than I do with my real life friends. It might be because I don’t physically know my online friends? Or that they easily open up to me as well and we find so many things in common.

    I agree that although it is scary to open up, it also feels like a weight has been lifted on my chest.

    I’m happy for you, 15 months is a milestone. 🙂

    1. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 12:36 am

      Hi Meaghan, I understand when you say you find it easier to open up to your online friends. It’s strange because I want to use this blog as an outlet for my deepest thoughts, some of which I might not even have shared with friends in real life, and I would, in fact,find hitting the Publish button and sending it out into the world much easier than saying them out loud. Maybe because I also feel I have things in common with the bloggers I interact with? Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

  2. Reply 14th January, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Aw Beverley, come here let me give you a big hug. I understand how scary it is to open up to others especially after you’ve been hurt. I’m really glad to hear you’ve found the courage to open up to your friends in university, and learned that it is, indeed, very rewarding.

    I’m actually the same with what Meaghan said. I find it easier to open up to my online friends than people in real life. For me, when I find someone who has the same vibes as me, I can easily talk about my feelings. I’m pretty much an open book if I’m with the right person, and it’s seriously one of the best feelings ever to have endless conversations about our inner thoughts and feelings about everything.

    musingful.com

    1. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 12:48 am

      Hug gratefully received, Nana. I understand about finding it easier to open up to online friends, sharing my thoughts here and wanting to write more personal posts has already been much easier than if I were to voice them out loud to some friends in real life. And yes, it always has to be the right person. For me, I find it is usually someone who is willing to listen as well as share, have some empathy and not make me feel as though I am beneath them. Conversations about inner thoughts and feelings truly are the best – they fill me with such endless joy. I’m glad you feel the same way. Thank you for leaving another lovely comment and sharing your thoughts with me, Nana!

  3. Reply 14th January, 2017 at 4:09 am

    I can totally relate to your situation. It’s hard for me open up to people, but when I open up to the right people, everything feels right. I don’t feel judged or misunderstood. Amazing and inspirational blog post. I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    1. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 12:51 am

      I’m glad you have also found the right people to open up to, even though you don’t find it easy either. Thank you for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment, Jennifer.

  4. Reply 14th January, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I’m always terrified to open up to new people. This goes for people online as well! Even though I know that online friendships are different, I still worry about opening up with people. In fact, it takes me longer to open up to people online because of those trust issues, and because of that many of my online friendships are much stronger.

    I have only one friend from school but I’m happy with that. I do, however, have friends outside of school that are incredible people I know I can talk to, and I’m thankful for them in ways I can probably never truly express. I’m glad that you have found people you can open up to, and I’m glad they’re people who’ve positively impacted your life. I think those are the best people in the world!

    1. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 12:57 am

      People who we can open up to and who bring positivity to our lives truly are the best. I don’t have a large friendship circle, but I am very grateful for the few close friends that I have. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to build such firm online friendships – I find it amazing that people can be brought together from all different parts of the world through this medium. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, Sydney!

  5. Reply 15th January, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Beverly, this is such a beautiful post and I loved it infinitely! Thank you for sharing and your writing, like I said in Twitter, is exquisite 🙂 I’ve always had trouble opening up myself to other people, mostly because people in the past have told me that I was “overreacting” about my emotions, when really I was extremely sad to the point in which I had depression. Long story short, I bottle up my deep emotions, especially when something upsetting happened, because I didn’t want them to think I was “overreacting” again. It hurt more when they said that. I just want to thank you for writing this post. It made me realize how important it is to loosen up and maybe share what I feel deep down. I’ve always been afraid of letting out my hurt feelings for fear of what they would think (my family doesn’t take mental issues seriously and often makes jokes about it; it hurts). Anyway, hopefully this year I can change that 🙂

    Thank you for being a light to everything – you’re amazing!

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

    1. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 1:19 am

      Reading your kind, kind words made my heart soar, Jillian. It is very frustrating when people don’t try to understand our feelings and as a result, simply brush them off. I wish more people would understand that everyone is different, so of course everyone’s emotions will differ. Something you find easy to tackle could be challenging or upsetting for someone else, and vice versa. I’m sorry that people haven’t been more empathetic towards you. But I hope this year, you will find the courage within you to share how you’re feeling deep down with people you can trust and those who are understanding. Perhaps you too will find a weight lifted off you. Take as much time as you need, you’re not expected to pour your heart out at once. Small steps are still progress, right? If you ever want someone to talk to, I am always happy to lend an ear. Thank you endlessly for your sweet comment and for sharing your own experiences with me! Much love to you, Jillian.

  6. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 6:49 am

    this post makes me feel like i’m reading something from my past. i wouldn’t say i’m a fully open person now because i’m still guarded but i’ve learned to trust again or at least, right now, i have trusted two right individuals: my best friend and my boyfriend who also started out as my best friend. i remember when i was still in school, i was so keen on fitting in and i was so open that i end up feeling blergh afterwards. long story short, it was awful and i experienced something similar you did. fast forward to college, i was so guarded and private and i spent my first few semesters attending university class(es) and then going home straight afterwards because in my mind, i attended college for the sake of graduating and that everyone will forget everyone and people leave, right so why should i invest my time and trust into anyone at all? university felt more…individualistic than school ever did (but i still love college waaaay more though because less idiots and people are more focused on their own graduation rather than being crappy and bullies to other people). it was not until my 5th semester onwards that i began having friends that i’d hang out with and all that jazz. i’ve always been extremely selective with the people i hang out with but the friends i have now are, well, not bad. of course, i have my favorite individuals which are my best girl friend and boyfriend – they’re the only people / friends i open up to.

    my now-boyfriend said it once that before we’re friends with each other, he saw me as a really guarded person who refused to mingle with anyone. i mean, i still AM private now and i don’t let people in so easily. i will always have this guarded side of me and frankly enough, it’s not awful. a person has to be cautious all the time is what i’m thinking. i may have other friends but they’re not the kind of friends i’d open up to. they’re more like acquaintances for me, tbh because in my mind, when i start calling someone my true, good friend, i’m giving them the vip golden ticket access of my trust…if that makes any sense at all. i think it’s perfectly fine for anyone to be guarded and refusing to be open because not everyone is a good friend. people leave everyday and it’s not easy to find someone who will stay by your side through thick and thin. we’re guarded and we don’t let people in easily because we’re being cautious and there’s nothing wrong about it.

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      I’m glad you’ve found people who have allowed you to learn to trust again – these are the precious ones we should hold on to and never let go of. I’m sorry you experienced something similar to me but it makes the right people all the more special, right? I always thought university would feel more individualistic, however for me it feels like school except we have more independence and everything’s gone up a level. Perhaps it could be the nature of my course. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being private or guarded either. And I understand when you say that calling someone a true friend would give them VIP access to your trust. A lot of friends do feel like ‘acquaintances’ in a sense, and I’d be uncomfortable and cautious about opening up to them. But I’m glad I’ve learnt to let the right people in and not close myself off completely.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me, Elisa (and apologies for the late reply)!

  7. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Until now I’m still afraid of opening up to a person especially if it’s a stranger. Sometimes, if I couldn’t take it, I surrender and tell everything. I’ve trusted a handful and I don’t know which one of them is trustworthy. But anyway, I’m glad I’ve read this post because I feel like it was me talking to myself from the past.

    Kai
    http://www.kairafanan.com

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      I’d still be terrified of opening up to people I barely know. It’s a process that takes time to build trust and I hope you will find out which friends are trustworthy. Thank you for visiting, Kai, and sorry for the late reply!

  8. Reply 16th January, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I think everyone can relate to feeling guarded when revealing personal things about yourself. I think part of it, at least for me, is the fact that we feel more vulnerable when we reveal personal things about yourself because you really are opening yourself up for possible judgement. And like you said, we should take it at our own pace and never feel rushed to open up to the people we care about.

    I’m so glad for you that you were able to open up to people you trust and build those long-lasting relationships. Those are the kinds of relationship that are pretty much priceless.

    Thanks for sharing such an insightful and personal post!

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      I agree, the thought of being vulnerable to possible judgement is terrifying. I am quite a self-conscious person and have always been afraid of people judging me. You are definitely right in that the people I can trust and open up to are priceless – I don’t plan on letting them go. Thank you for your lovely comment, Rezina (and apologies for the late reply!)!

  9. Reply 17th January, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    It’s hard to open up to people…but I am slowly trusting and being honest about my situations, and being open to my situation with mental illness to help not only myself but others too. It’s not easy as I am a very private person but I am slowly changing. I trust and like myself more.

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Michelle, I’m glad to hear you are slowly starting to trust again. I think it’s a great thing that you are being open about your mental health to help not only yourself but other people too – I’m sure those who can relate will really appreciate it. Thank you for visiting!

  10. Reply 22nd January, 2017 at 12:36 am

    I am a guarded person, too. But now, I can open up to people who I think are trustworthy. I used to be the kind of person who just bottle up her feelings but it just gave me anxiety. I used to write everything down in my diary and when I discovered blogging, it has been my venting place ever since. I also started opening up to people who I think are trustworthy and when I did that, I felt so much better. And you’re right, opening up doesn’t just happen overnight and as for me, it took years after I decided to let go of all the feelings and thoughts that are eating me up. I’m happy that you got to open up and learn to trust people, I hope you progress more through the years. 🙂

    Hi, Beverly! I just discovered your blog and I love it! You have just gained a new reader! ^_^ xx

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Renee, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and for the kind words! Bottling up our feelings is just so difficult isn’t it? I started releasing emotions through my journal last year and it really helped. There’s something about writing that soothes and calms the mind. I am so glad you also opened up to trustworthy people and that it made you feel better. Here’s to more progress for the both of us! And welcome to my little corner of the internet, I hope to see you here again and will be checking out your blog soon 🙂

  11. Reply 22nd January, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, I completely relate to what you’re saying! It’s really scary to open up to people but once you do, it’s so relieving like you said. It’s scary because you don’t know what they’d do with that information and trust is always an issue. But as you grow up and start connecting with the right people this anxiety will pass.

    Thank you for sharing lovely!

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      You’re exactly right in that there is uncertainty as to what a person could do with things you open up about but finding the right people and having that worry pass is such a great feeling. Thank you for reading and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, Pauline!

  12. Reply 23rd January, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Such an honest and very personal post, mind I add. Loved reading every word of it. Opening up isn’t easy, I know that too. Just like you I had troubles trusting people and was my own person. Opening up to someone made me feel vulnerable and I didn’t like that. I had few, let’s just say, events in the past that made opening up even more difficult for me. I am still on the road of fully opening up but I can see a huge progress when I look back on the days how I used be.
    I am proud of you, even if I know very little about you. It takes huge courage to do what you did. I hope that you will improve little by little every single day 🙂

    -Leta

    1. Reply 26th January, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Leta, I’m so happy you enjoyed reading this and thank you so much for your lovely, encouraging words. I am sorry to hear that you had to experience events in the past that made opening up even more of a challenge but it’s wonderful that you have already made so much progress – I’m thrilled for you. I honestly feel a lot happier now too, without having to bottle up all my feelings and keep them inside me. Here’s to more courage and improvement for the both of us!

  13. Reply 2nd February, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Aw this was such a beautiful read. Thank you for sharing this.

    As for me, I guess I’m pretty shy around people, and it ends up being mostly just small talk. However, some people are very comfortable just getting straight to the “meat” on the first meeting. As for me, as I hang out with people more and get to know them, I start to open up about my thoughts, worries, and concerns. Otherwise I come off as boring and robotic, or even superficial unfortunately.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *