Step # 4 of the 8 Easy Steps is to Let People In.
Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed—or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them, and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half-way. Go all in—it’s worth it.
It took me a while to think on this one. And now that I'm re-reading it, I realize that I totally remembered it differently. I missed the trust part, IE tell people that you trust when you need help etc., etc. I had this whole internal diatribe going on about how far you'd let people in emotionally depending on who they were, and I compared it to how far you'd let them into your house.
For instance, you might only let a coworker in as far as your living room, and if you really liked them you might bring them into the kitchen for cookies, but you probably wouldn't let them into your bedroom. So, you might share with them that funny little thing your kids said last night (living room), or maybe you'll tell them about the not so funny little thing that your husband said to you (kitchen), but you probably wouldn't tell them about the gigantic fight you had with someone, or what position you used last night.
Well, I guess maybe that depends on who you are. . .
Anyway, I'll tuck that internal diatribe away, and maybe focus on the letting-people-that-you-trust-in part.
I let my husband in all the time. I'm an open book emotionally, so it's not that hard to tell when I'm happy, sad, glad or mad, but I do sometimes have a hard time talking about it. But Hubby's pretty good at getting me to talk about it, and it does feel pretty good, and we do talk about a lot of really deeply personal stuff, and that's scary but good too because in the end we still love each other, and it really does make our relationship that much better in the end, so I do have to agree with Kate on this one.
I also disagree with her, though. I used to open up a lot to someone who was once my best friend. She's not so much a friend anymore. And by that I mean pretty much not at all. I'll say that the "fault" for the end of the friendship is 50-50, but if you were to actually ask either of us, we'd probably both say, "It's mostly her fault."
A few years ago we did actually meet for coffee, and we tried talking on the phone a couple times, and I will admit: there is a big wall up on my part. She even sounded frustrated when she mentioned that she felt like I was putting up an emotional wall.
What? You mean that after years of my confiding everything to you, and after 'going all in and caring way more than you ever did', only to be horrendously shit on, you expect me to just be like, "Hey, oh my god! I can't believe I get to hang out with you again! I'm going to tell you everything about my life again, while you, as usual, share nothing except for Victorian-era parlour-room level stuff, and I'll just totally risk being treated exactly the same as you did before, even though it made me feel like crap, because, you know, you expect me to, even though it's been three years since you've said more than five words to me!"
Of course I have a fucking wall up. It doesn't go "Once bitten, twice shy" for no fucking reason.
Does that mean that it will never come down? Well, at this point, the wall will probably keep you out of the house, but back then, with a lot of patience, some understanding, and a little work, you might have been allowed in to the living room, which is at least in the house.
I'm not the only one who puts up walls. I have a friend who let lots of people in at various times in her life, and they almost always end up using whatever information/emotions she freely gave them against her. Of course she's going to put walls up, which doesn't make relationships easy for her anymore. But she is still trying to let people in, so kudos to her ;)
(That's right--I just used a smiley face as punctuation. Go ahead. Have a fit. It's okay.)
All these walls make me wonder--how do you know who to trust? When can you take the walls down completely? Maybe you have to start out with a brick wall, and then maybe the top layer can be taken off so that you can talk to people over the wall, and some people might stay behind that wall all the time, except for maybe when you really need help (like good neighbours do). And maybe after some time goes, you'll know if you can put a gate into your wall, and maybe you'll leave it unlocked.
And maybe eventually you'll maybe marry your best friend and you'll share a yard, so you won't need any walls anymore.
That is an awesome feeling. And it is worth it. It does make life better.
It's just a little scary finding those people that you can trust with your emotions.