I can chat to you about stuff, most things really, I am a ‘Miss Have-a-Chat’, a hairdresser by trade so I am conditioned to be able to chit chat to anyone however it comes naturally to me. I genuinely am a people person, I like to talk to you… but I have an expression problem.
People who know me would say “Are you crazy, you don’t have a problem with expression,” but I wonder if any of these people know all that much about ME. I can listen to you, comment, give advice, and agree with you. But have you ever heard me say “This is how I feel about it”? Let me answer that for you – “No, no you haven’t.” You see, people either know me from the good ole days as the drinker, or the quiet one hiding in the back… neither is the person I am.
When I was a drinker there were two sides to me; I was quite happy and confident to tell you to “back the hell away from me” or that you were “behaving like a dick”. Hell, my manager pulled a knife on me one night because I pressed a ‘don’t go there button’, I was ballsy on the booze and I didn’t give a s#**. I would take you on, wrestle you to the ground like a man and wouldn’t give in until you did. ‘It’s not my problem, you can’t handle the truth!’
I was quite imposing and confronting. The other side of me was just a fun-loving have-a-good-time girl that lots of people liked to be around, and funnily I got praised for taking some of these former people on. The knife thing kind of shook me up so I decided to be less of a button presser. The above days are well and truly over for me and have been for over 14 years.
I grew up in a family with a lot of ‘expression’. If someone was unhappy with something they would swear. If they were unhappy with you they would swear at you. If they were happy with you they would still swear at you, except they would laugh as they said it, so you would know it was being said affectionately.
Swearing was the only way I knew how my family felt. No conversations were ever had about how you truly felt about something, that I can remember anyway, it was either good or f#****. Today, I still struggle with expression, expressing what I know, what I can feel and how I feel about something. It is a stumbling block for me, it holds me back and at times can be quite crippling.
My expression now is a million miles away from that drinker and could be said to be quite the opposite, however it seems I am haunted by past hurts and the reactions from others. I have been told that I can be cold, hard and unloving in my expression; at times I guess I could agree, but not always. Nevertheless these comments affect me as that is not how I want to be, nor is it who I am. When I get told this I become unsure as to how I should say something and whether I should say it at all. So usually I don’t.
My resistance to express what I feel could come from not wanting to be labelled a sook, or told that I am overreacting or that I am trying to start a fight – that’s always a good one as it gets me every time. And I wouldn’t want to upset you because you may ignore me for months at a time or dress me down till I am ‘a nothing’.
I am frightened at times to say what I think, because what will you think of me and what will be your response? A close relative once sent another relative to my house to beat me up because I pointed out that they were being a little ungrateful towards a parent. Yes he, it was a male, busted the door open and king-hit me on my lounge room floor.
Shattered, frightened, and overwhelmed with the false securities I had given myself when I was a drinker, I think I got flooded with these hidden fears the day I copped that punch. I felt gutted that the people closest to me did nothing and said nothing. So of course I made decisions to shut down . . . don’t express too much, don’t upset people. Don’t let people know how you are truly feeling, protect yourself, harden, be as hard and as tough as you can.
When I do speak up, my voice audibly trembles and a red rash creeps from my chest up to my throat, which is quite noticeable and I am usually doing my best to hold back the tears. My brain becomes fuzzy and I can’t think clearly, I can only get out the very basics. Parent teacher interviews at school are a trauma for me – I have not been to one that I haven’t cried in!
So is there reason to fear expression? In the past yes, but this can’t be used as my excuse. I put myself into my family and those situations, I accepted the use of abuse to subdue and control feelings and I have chosen in the past to use it myself in my family.
I have made choices to step out of this cycle, choosing to feel and express those feelings; to set aside the protection, be vulnerable, allow myself to be seen as fragile and delicate and to break down the control, the hardness and ALLOW in love. I have encouraged myself to take up space, to be the amazingly wonderful, kind and loving person that I am, that others know me to be and that I have always been.
I have made and am still making choices to step out from the back of the room, allow myself to be seen, allow myself to speak, allow myself to be heard. I shakily put my hand up to answer questions or share opinions, my voice still quavers and I sometimes get reactions to what I may have to say, however I am getting better with staying with myself. I am slowly learning not to personalise what others say in response or reaction to me. I am learning that I am quite sensitive to people’s words and how they choose to use them, or not use them. Sometimes I catch myself falling into the old patterns and sometimes, I just don’t!
I am a work in progress, and inspired every day by an amazing man, Serge Benhayon that I met about eight years ago, who keeps saying… “Expression is everything”.
By LJ, Australia