Hiding is something I am familiar with. I have written about being a phony, and this is similar, but in many ways different. I think many people have several facets to their personality. They’ll have a side of them that they reveal more to family and people they grew up with; a more childlike side. Then there is a side you have at work; professional and strong, with no weakness or too much emotion. There is also the side you will reveal to a new friend or love interest you want to impress. This person may see new aspects to you that you haven’t shown anyone before; maybe you make some things up as you go along. Discover that you have a new interest to travel, or that you like long walks on the beach…
The thing I have been hiding from everyone is the darker side of me. In my favorite television show, ‘Dexter’, the main character calls this his “dark passenger”. This is my illness. Unlike Dexter, I am not a serial killer, thank goodness. My illness does not drive me to harm anyone else, at least not physically. My darkness only compels me to have a complete disregard for myself. Maybe that is an inaccurate way to describe it, because we all do have an inborn instinct to protect ourselves and seek out activities and such that pleases us. Maybe I can describe this in a different way.
My new therapist told me last week that there was a bit of “arrogance” about me. I hadn’t had anyone use this word to describe me before and I was a little surprised, but I was more than interested to understand why he felt this was true. If this was yet another thing I could dislike about myself, I was ready to get on the ‘Christine is arrogant’ train. He also told me he didn’t know that I was depressed or needed medication 10 minutes into our first session, so I am somewhat hesitant to buy into some of what he has to say yet. He has asked me to tell him a little bit about myself in these first couple of sessions so I immediately dive into my family history, my schooling, college, career, almost as if I am in a job interview. Already ‘hiding’ from him what he most needs to know in order to treat me. But this is habit for me. He asks me is there is a finish line for me. If there is a goal I have set in which I can sit back and feel a true sense of accomplishment. I explain that I have a five year and ten year plan, typically, and I renew these as things in my life happen. They evolve so there is no finish line. He asks if I plan to retire. I tell him I don’t think I will be able to retire. My kids have to go to college and their Dads are not capable of putting them through school. I plan to work until I die. And, honestly, although I do not say this to him, reaching the age of retirement has never been something I have considered. He said that this makes me arrogant. That I feel like my taking time to relax and enjoy time to myself is detrimental to the world as a whole. Well, I hadn’t exactly felt like that, it was more that I was afraid to stop and become complacent. If I sit still too long I get lazy. If I am in my house for more than a couple days without leaving I get anxious about leaving. My whole sense of well-being lies in my routine. I have to keep moving.
His bringing this up not only helped me see that he may not be the best therapist for me because he doesn’t “get” me. But it also made me realize how pathological I am in my lack of being able to let people see these weak parts of me. I hide the aspects of myself I am ashamed of. I have always told myself that if someone figures out and calls me out on just how lazy and horrible I am, I can just die and forget about the whole thing. That has always been my ultimate way to solve how I feel about others seeing me as I see myself; my anxiety and self hatred, the low moods and darkness I just can’t shake or snap myself out of no matter how many inspirational quotes I post on Facebook. Except at my lowest low, the day or so preceding my attempt when I just avoided everyone completely, I was perfectly capable of pasting on a smile and being cheerful, or smart, or outgoing, or anything else that anyone needed me to be. I can perform, people. Performing is what I have done my entire life. I love being on a stage whether it is to sing, or present, or speak, or just to BE and show everyone that I am one of you; one of the ‘shiny-happy people’. But as soon as I am off of the stage and alone again I know who I really am; and I am so tired of hiding.