Can I keep a secret? A secret someone shares with me – ABSOLUTELY!
Anything about myself that I didn’t share – well – that just felt like I was being dishonest and untrustworthy. My fear of rejection from being perceived as dishonest and untrustworthy overrode my fear of rejection from people knowing absolutely everything about me: my flaws; mistakes; lack of knowledge of history, geography, mathematics, and politics; my thoughts; feelings; fears; insecurities; past traumas; and pretty much anything and everything – all readily exposed to anyone and everyone.
Was full self-disclosure/exposure a way to reject myself before the person I was speaking to could reject me first? Was it a way to deflect and distract myself from my feelings of insecurity and unworthiness? Was it a way to force someone because of their discomfort at what I was saying to validate, empathize, or be compassionate towards me? Was it a desperate attempt to get from another person what I wanted – acceptance and LOVE – LOVE – LOVE?
Three years ago when I shared this with my counselor he quickly wrote two words onto a piece of paper and then handed it to me:
These two words meant that I TOO HAVE THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY.
These two words meant that I AM NOT OBLIGATED TO ANSWER ANYONE’S QUESTIONS.
These two words meant that I WAS NOT BEING DISHONEST, UNTRUSTWORTHY, OR BAD if I kept things to myself.
What a concept!
I went right to work practicing keeping my mouth shut. When my emotions screamed at me to blurt and spew everything out, I kept telling myself over and over:
I practiced this new skill at a job interview. I amazed myself at how professional and “together” I sounded because I didn’t get lost in rambling on and on about past experiences with past employers or co-workers and just simply gave “HEADLINES ONLY” answers. Surprisingly those short simple answers were enough for the interviewer. I got hired on the spot!
HEADLINES ONLY was the first healthy boundary I put in place for myself.
At what turned out to be our last session together, my counselor gave me a four word lesson:
BOUNDARIES – KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
Learning to have healthy boundaries and not feel bad or guilty about them has been a long hard process. Healthy boundaries have helped me protect myself from other people, but most importantly, they have helped me protect myself from me. I am worthy!