Lying in the fetal position, the sobs rocked my entire body. I could feel my heart breaking, again. My eyes, puffy from hours of tears tried to focus when I heard her come through the door. She sat next to my feet and stroked my leg with care. I sat up and she enveloped me in a hug reminding me that I was loved. My husband had walked out without me understanding why, what had happened that all of sudden we weren’t working at our marriage anymore, he was done. I wasn’t done. I didn’t think we were done. She talked to me to try to help me, reminding me not to lose my confidence. Trying to dish out some level of understanding about the situation. At some point she thought it was important to let me know that I could be somewhat at fault, she said something that stuck with me for years, “Suz, you are tough.”
That wasn’t meant as I am tough, I am a warrior, I am fierce and I will get through this. This was a reason in her mind, that he walked out. I was emotional, I was opinionated and that made me tough. Tough. Tough to live with? Tough to love? Tough. I was in the deepest hole of my depression and being told I was tough. I didn’t know what to do with that nor did I try at that moment, but I tucked it away and let it fester for many years. It was said one additional time, and I didn’t let it go that time. I tried to ask and understand, with no real luck, and realized that she didn’t know me quite as well as she thought. Nor does she know herself.
This idea of a good friend thinking I was tough sat with me for a while. I was so bothered by the prospect that it has changed the friendship somewhat. I no longer allowed her to really see my depths of emotion or my depths as a person. I listen more than I talk and I don’t share my opinions as much. I definitely share less of me.
What does it mean to be “tough?” I think this quote says it all:
“I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, “for the same reason I laugh so often – because I’m paying attention.” ~ Glennon Doyle Melton
Most of my life, I have been made fun of and laughed at because of how deeply I feel things, how affected I can be by people’s words, actions and what I see around me. As a child, my brothers picked on me for feeling things deeply, for being “emotional.” I cry easily. My ex-husband use to love when certain commercials would come on the TV when we would watch because he knew no matter how hard I tried, the tears would be flowing. I tried to hide my emotions at times in my life, I numbed them a bit in both alcohol and sarcasm. My retorts became biting at times. I built an exterior that was described by one person as “chewing nails for breakfast.” I guess that was tough.
What I realized was that none of that was me. Yes I can be sarcastic but not to hurt. Yes I can still be hard as nails when necessary. But yes, I am emotional. I am a deeply feeling person in a messy world.
A friend of mine and I were talking about this one day as this still bothers me. His reaction has stuck with me and reminds me that people see you differently. That other’s eyes aren’t yours and they aren’t the same from one person to another. He talked to me about passion. He sees me as passionate, deeply caring and having strong opinions. He thinks that passion is something not everyone can share , understand or handle. He once said to me that you can still be friends with people and not share all of you with them. Not everyone can handle all of you, not everyone can go that deep.
This is an amazing friend that does go deep on life with me. His words have also stuck with me. And actually I think far more people stay surface than explore the depths of their souls. Far few people really are naked in the world, letting others in, letting their true selves out. So many of us are rushing from one goal to another. Everything is focused on what to do and not on who they are and how they evolve. Some don’t want to ever explore who they really are, and how they can be even better. That takes a lot of courage, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and open to change.
And he is right. Not everyone wants to be that vulnerable. Not everyone thinks that evolution is necessary. Not everyone looks to grow like that, that is the deep scary work that means looking the mirror often and changing how you react.
But a deeply feeling person in a messy world is always paying attention to the opportunity to grow with those feelings, change with those feelings and wake up tomorrow a better version of self.
Tough? No, I’m not. I am a deeply feeling person in a messy world.