December 10, 2012

The Invisible Woman Speaks Up

There's been a lot of unpleasant stuff going on in my life the past few days.  Without getting into it, I'll just say it's family related.  I know many of you will sympathize without knowing more.  I wasn't even going to mention it at all on the blog, but I read this article over at Messy Marriage written by Beth Steffaniak.  

Beth writes about what kind of person we are in our marriage, invisible or transparent, and how that affects our relationship with our spouse (and no, the unpleasantness in my life isn't with my husband).  I think the logic Beth spells out in her article applies to ALL of our relationships.

Well, here....take this quiz she gives:

  1. Do you consistently own up to your faults and sins or fear the ramifications of doing so?
  2. Do you let “trusted” friends (as opposed to all your Facebook friends)know how you’re “really” doing or keep things to yourself?
  3. Are you and most of your friends more self-accepting or self-conscious/self-condemning?
  4. Do you accept conflict and deal with it humbly/responsibly or generally avoid and/or fear conflict?
  5. Do you humbly and honestly work through an offense or quickly let loose with your anger?
Affirmative answers to the first half of each question indicates transparency.  Agreeing with the second half indicates invisibility.

My answers:
  1. I tend to the latter.  Born out of the shame my dad always made me feel.  
  2. I keep things to myself.  I have a "Never let them see you cry mentality."
  3. I am definitely self-conscious and self-condemning.  I don't think I'm good enough so I certain expect others to think the same way.
  4. I LOATHE conflict and avoid it like the plague.
  5. This is the only one I'm a bit torn on.  I admit I've been known to lose my temper, but an awful lot of the time I just bottle it up and hold it in.  Now that I'm thinking about it, though, that pretty much just means I'm postponing the inevitable explosion.
So, what can being an invisible woman mean to me?

  • If you feel as if you can’t really connect with people—in particular your spouse.
  • If you feel like your arguments with your spouse go 'round and 'round.
  • If you have a constant sense of shame or fear that often interferes with your marriage.
  • If you’re tired of trying to pleasing your spouse and in the end feeling taken for granted.
  • If you feel a sense of emptiness that not even your spouse or family can fill.

Wow, can I ever relate to EVERYTHING she said.  I don't feel like I really connect and friendships come hard for me.  Arguments with my husband do, indeed, go 'round and 'round.  The fear and shame don't (at least I don't think they do) interfere in the marriage, but they sure do in other relationships.  I am definitely tired of trying to please people and feeling like they only want anything to do with me when they need me to DO something.  Empty?  Ohhhhh, yes.

I get how this makes me feel, but what affect does it have on the people in my life?  Beth says:

"....if you live like an invisible man or woman, then others,especially your spousewon’t see “into” you. No, they will seethrough you. Try as you might, your efforts to put your best face forward, to pretend like everything’s all right, or to wear your emotions on your sleeve in an attempt to control or manipulate others will not stop them from seeingthrough you. 

They may not completely realize what they’re seeing, but they’ll know that you’re hiding, not being real, not trusting them with your heart. 

And they will not trust you
 because of it."  

Ouch.  Seriously.  Ouch.  

Not that long ago a trusted friend told me I needed to tear down the walls and become transparent and let people in.  I've been called fake, a liar, and a few other things by a family member.  I can't tell you how much that hurt, but after reading this I'm realizing there is some truth to the label.  The thing is when you are invisible, people think they know what you're doing and why, but they're wrong and their wrong judgements coupled with the invisible person's fear can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

I've got a long way to go, but I'm trying.  I'm focusing more on God than on myself and my own wounds.  I'm trying to reach out to people.  It still feels pretty stilted, but there are moments...and of course, the receptivity of the person I try with makes a difference.  It's going pretty well, I think, with Tim, my mom, the ladies at church....others are going to be tougher nuts to crack, but I'm okay with that.  I'm doing my best and I know what's in my heart.  If they can't offer understanding, forgiveness, and let me in then they have some of their own issues to deal with, too.


Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

Ahh Stacy. You really made me think with this. I am sorry things are so tough. You can only do so much my friend if the other person is not responsive to you. I am so much like you. I do not make friends easily and I hate confrontations. It is something that I have to work on. Keep on keeping on Stacy hopefully that tough nut will crack one day.

Kathy ... aka Nana said...

What courage it took for you to post that. Like you, I hate confrontation and do not make friends easily. I thought it was just my introverted nature ... but now I realize that there's very likely more to it. Thanks for sharing this ... I needed it.


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