Secrets and Fears

What makes you feel safe?

I was never particularly afraid of monsters in the closet or things that go bump in the night. I was convinced our basement was haunted and at 22 I’m still not convinced I was wrong about that. Growing up I always thought my parents were paranoid about safety, and I still do, but some things that seemed pointless to me back then now make a lot more sense. I think I feel safest when I’m in control because whatever happens, I’m the only one to blame, and I have no problem taking responsibility when I know without a doubt it’s up to me. 
Recently I realized this idea of being safe when I’m in control isn’t entirely true. There are several, albeit very few, people in my life I feel completely safe when I’m with them. The reasons for this vary slightly, but the common denominator is trust. If you know me, you know I have major trust issues.  Even the people I could list that I feel safe with know that I’ve kept secrets from them for whatever reason. I know it’s frustrating to be someone I trust and know there are still secrets between us. So why do I feel so safe yet so compelled to keep secrets?
In truth, I don’t know. If I had to guess I would say its because I haven’t accepted my secrets. There are plenty of secrets I have kept from everyone in my life and plenty more that I’ve blurted out in a time of weakness and can’t recall what I said or who I said it to anymore. However, even if it was in a moment of weakness, it was a moment of opening and sharing in the safe space that always existed.
I used to think that opening up aligned with letting my guard down. I see now that isn’t entirely true. It is true in that my guard was up, but it is not true because my guard should never have been up to begin with. Why do I push people away when I need them? What am I afraid of? If it’s not monsters in the closet, then what is it?
This is the question I was asking myself when I began writing, and one I’ve asked myself millions of times before. The unfortunate truth is again, I still don’t have an answer. The ghosts that are lurking in the basement pull me into myself in ways I cannot explain. They cause me to look over my shoulders and jump at the slightest agitation. The thing is, whether I believe these ghosts are real or not, they can only hurt me as much as I allow them to. Thus, fearing their presence really does me more harm than good.
Conquering fears doesn’t always end in happiness, but it does end in a sense of accomplishment. The same is true when it comes to opening up to people. Fears hold us back from potentially great things; secrets hold us back from potentially strong bonds. If I could sit every person I place my trust in one room and rattle off a list of secrets with complete confidence, I would. I would do it because it doesn’t matter if my secrets bring us together or tear us apart because in the end they’re a part of me that will stay with me in some capacity forever. The obvious hope, and expectation, is that these special people also stay with me forever.
In the end, I know this isn’t something I’l be doing soon. It’s not about trust or fear, but it’s about my acceptance of the issues. Carrying out this plan hinged on one statement, “with complete confidence.” This is something that can never be achieved until I am completely convinced of the validity, or really good at bull shit (neither of which apply to me). So why does it look like I’m succumbing to fear from every angle? Because I am, obviously. It goes deeper than that though. Yes, fear is holding me back; I don’t want you to think that I drink that when I say it goes deeper. I mean it also taps into my sense of self and self confidence. I need to develop my sense of self in order to build my self confidence.
Now, throughout this post I used the word “I” with the exception of one paragraph. I used the word I am confident in what I’m revealing about myself. However, there are two more things I know for sure.
(1) I am not the only 22 year old that feels this way, and I know people both older and younger who can identify with these words. Therefore, every one of my “I”s also belongs to YOU
(2) Being able to have confidence in something is what makes those monsters non-existent. It makes the presence of the ghosts felt. And, it makes you go in the basement anyway.

Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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