When entering the terrifying realm of dating one must strip down the thick skin has been built up over the years and feel the sometimes painful experience of exposing oneself to another. Admittedly, this has not always been my strong suit. In fact, if anything, I am quite talented at peeking outside the ivory tower just long enough to realize that a thicker wall must be constructed for emotional safety’s sake. Bringing another person into my life, let alone letting them see the real me are foreign concepts to me, concepts that seem like an alluring siren’s song, until reality sets in.
As an actor it is much easier to assume a reality that better suits the situation that I find myself in. To assimilate into a new culture and a new personality, while seamlessly weaving parts of my own past into this new character’s background. I can draw from personal experiences to create a familiarity for people that seems genuine enough to be believed. This is how I find myself getting through my day to day. People selectively see parts of me that I bring out when appropriate. Cues from others can be detected when that prompt character growth. Though I am nowhere near a genius (trust me, Mensa wont be knockin’ at my door anytime soon) I do have enough street smarts and enough tribal knowledge built up that I can have fully engaged conversations on subjects I know snippets about and make new friends on barely shared interests. I can safely count the number of people on one hand that know the real me and up until this point in my life, that has served me just fine.
However, I am at an impasse on how to move forward at this point in my life and this is new to me. While I am thankful that I will always have the WONDERFUL people in my life that have seen the real me stripped down and raw and still love me for who I am and who I am becoming, I have never allowed a romantic partner in on that level. And while I do (kind of) like the idea of doing that, the very thought of it makes my extremities cold and my stomach want to bring up whatever it was digesting. Am I doomed to wander to earth a perpetual people pleaser, only showing people the sides of me that I detect they want to see? Will I never be able to allow a man to see my soul and hold my hand? Will I never be able to accept help or a favor from someone who is acting purely out of love without suspecting that I will later have to repay that favor at a greater cost to my emotional wellbeing?
And what if I do meet someone (this is purely hypothetical) that I want to show the real me to? How does one go about removing the layers and layers of their extremities to expose the truth? How do you know if they even want to see the real you? How do you gage their reactions as the real you and not look for the clues to be found in their facial expressions and posture and adapt to what you determine they will find a more comfortable version of you? How do I tell someone that the thought of them seeing me naked makes me want to cry hot tears and hide? How do you tell someone that the thought of someone loving me for real makes me want to hurt myself? Those are things that are not easy to say yet I scream in my head when I meet someone I could really care about.