I am not quick to write about just anything. I wait, mull over my recent interactions with the world, and finally settle on something I want to share with you. This month I waited, writing almost daily but with only a few shareable insights. I have been feeling a pull in opposite directions. On one hand I have felt courage and with it, an openness to reveal more of the playful, vulnerable and humorous part of me. Alternately, I have felt unsafe, shy, and wanting to hide. When I consider both of these parts (let’s call them Openness and Safety) it’s easier to talk about the bright smiling playful part and less about the part of me that wants to hide away.
I never saw value in acknowledging the safe part of me which provides me with little success and carries shame. In a world that requires collaboration and networking, I have a hard time seeing the safe part as being useful. So I tossed her away in a dark closet with the dirty laundry – buried beneath layers of wash. She is unseen and feels equally safe and smothered. She pulls Openness with her – Openness pushes against the folds of fabric, claiming stretching room. She wants fresh air and light and tries to resist the stale odour of Safety. She desires companionship, room for self-expression and all things new. Safety mistrusts interactions, watches closely for subtle judgements and fears being viewed as unlikeable or odd. She lassos Openness in a towel, wrapping her tightly. She feels safe and in control while Openness is trapped. Openness questions her desires, “Maybe it’s best if I remain here in the dark.” With nowhere to go, she settles and slowly drifts off to sleep. She dreams of moonlit nights, familiar faces circled around a fire and stories being embellished making the anticipation grow and the laughter last. And as we raise our cups in the circle we are webbed by the stars and the stories. These are the nights Openness recalls. These are the memories that loosen Safety’s grip and give her the courage to venture out. As Openness wakes, refuelled and refreshed, she agrees to Safety’s concerns and promises to protect her. Safety sees Openness’ desire for companionship, self-expression and all things new. Opposite, and still parts of me, Openness and Safety feel valued and band together.
I understand that I have many parts – beliefs I hold about myself and ways in which I interact with my world. Sometimes they feel diametric and sometimes I want to ignore them and even hide them away. But after months of self-reflection and Internal Family Systems work, I understand the many parts are neither good nor bad but are simply at work inside my thought process. My parts need space for expression, a voice in my consciousness and compassion for each other as they are all ‘part’ of me.
I have decided that I am not going to give more attention to one over the other but try to allow space for each. This is a new approach for me.