When I was younger I was terrified of thunderstorms. Light rains turned into heavy rains with high winds, followed by a low rumble of thunder off in the distance. As it neared, lightning began to dance across the sky and reminded my small town of its power to destroy us. The winds continued to pick up speed and join in this violent orchestration, and I waited anxiously for the tornado sirens to sound. Under the covers, my heart beat wildly in anticipation for the tornado warning, as if my panic was excused if the sirens wailed. All I knew in those moments was he sooner the alarm sounded, the sooner the storm would pass, and the sooner this high alert energy would dissipate.
Thunderstorms threatened that a bigger monster was just around the corner. The culmination of sights and sounds seemed to snarl, “You think this is big and scary? Just wait until my cousin Tornado shows up!” That threat prowled around my thoughts each and every storm until I was choked by my own anxiety. When the storm finally moved on, the taunting ceased and the grip of anxiety was released.
As an adult, this fear of thunderstorms remains. I continue to choose to quietly hide under the covers, close my eyes, and wish the storm away. In a sense, I do the same thing when the storms of life approach as well. Sometimes there are the light rains of trouble and pain, and you wonder, “Is more coming?” While other times the downpour appears with no warning and you’re trapped outside in the storm.
I wish that, like a storm, the hard stuff in life would pass overnight instead of dragging on for weeks and months at a time. But I’ve noticed in these weeks and months in the rain that I’ve become more open about sharing my feelings of pain, confusion, lostness, and heartache. I’ve stopped trying to lessen them, or cover them up, and pretend that I’m ok.
What is it that makes sharing these thoughts and feelings so difficult? Why are the things that sting our hearts and make us cry, that make us question life and direction and purpose, also cause us to look at the floor when we finally decide to share them? Why do we walk around so clenched with secrets, trying to be perfect all the time?
For me, I don’t like appearing weak. Growing up, weakness was teased, mocked, and a reason why I was silenced or dismissed. As an adult, I’m relearning the truth about my weaknesses and the reasons to stop hiding them from people. When I share my shortcomings, fears, and hurts with someone I create a bridge of connection with them.
Pretending I never have needs, concerns, or cravings isolates me from those around me. I create walls with no point of entry, whereas acknowledging these things extends a hand out for someone else to take hold of. Me saying, “You know… I’ve been feeling a lot lonelier than I expected since moving here,” creates a space for us to connect. It opens a new opportunity for you to feel comfortable talking about your fear of losing your job or sharing the pain of your most recent breakup. We were never meant to carry these burdens alone, or hide in the shadows with our shortcomings. Let us be the ones who share openly and honestly about our storms when they happen, so that others feel welcome to share as well. Let us stop hiding under the covers and wishing it all away.