I’m going to reveal something: I conceal things.
I conceal things that are precious to me. I conceal thoughts, events, emotions that are shameful or embarrassing.
Most often, I conceal my actual, in-the-moment, feelings – especially if those feelings might reveal too much about my highly sensitive nature, my prejudices, or my insecurities.
In fact, for many years, I was so good at concealing my feelings that I didn’t even know what they truly were.
It took a pretty big life event, now nearly 4 years ago, to begin to change that – an event that isn’t relevant to this post and therefore won’t be revealed (grin).
What you conceal cannot be healed.
Last fall my tendency to conceal was pointed out by a mentor in a way I couldn’t avoid. He made it very clear that ‘what you conceal can never be healed.’
Now, this post isn’t some big confessional. Sure, there are things in my life that are embarrassing and shameful.
What I’m interested in is exploring the nature of concealment.
So, question: What purpose does concealment serve?
*I’m going to answer for myself. Feel free to play along and answer for yourself as well.
Protection. Actually, it’s more like protection, protection, protection. Layers and layers and layers of protection.
- Protection of self – from mockery, abandonment (if my opinions differ from yours you may leave), from allowing you to see the effect your words and actions have on me.
If you can’t see how much your words or actions affect/hurt me, you won’t know how much control you have over me and my feelings. I’m a rock, dammit! At least as far as you can see. (Inside, I may be shattering).
- Protection of ideas, dreams, hopes – again, from mockery, from my potential lack of follow-through (more mockery), from being told they are stupid or worthless.Like, for instance, my children’s book for adults that no one has read or even knows I’ve written…until right now.
- Protection of private practices – those things that nourish and support me that you might, again, mock or ridicule. Or, that part of me that mocks and ridicules myself.Yes, I am a tree-hugging hippy who has to stop and ‘talk’ with every squirrel I see. If you were to catch me, oh, the embarrassment! (Silly squirrel whisperer).
Question: What is needed in order to reveal?
Safety. Layers and layers and layers of safety. Safety which is created in part through:
Permission. Permission to not reveal. Permission to mess up, to hide my feelings, to just hide in general.
And, permission for this whole process to take as long as necessary. Which leads to:
Patience. For most of my life I wasn’t even consciously aware of this tendency to conceal. In many ways, concealment simply was who I was.
I didn’t know how deeply hidden my fragile, sensitive nature had become. I had no idea of my fragility, of the wounded parts of me so in need of my awareness and compassion.
And, initially, as these things began to surface, as they came forward, first revealing themselves to me, I had no idea how to handle them, what to do with this overwhelming rush of feelings.
Feelings I couldn’t even begin to name, to understand, or to sort out. They were just a huge, jumbled mess. I was just a huge, jumbled mess.
So, yes, patience.
And, perspective. Because, looking back over these 4 years, there have been a ton of shifts in this pattern.
It is so important to keep that in mind, to recognize and acknowledge how I now
a) am able to discern my feelings,
b) have tools that help me meet them and
c) often now even feel safe revealing them to others.
These shifts are HUGE.
Sure, this is still a pattern for me. That’s ok. It has permission to be there. Just knowing that it is there and noticing when it is ‘active’ ensures my continual growth into revealing more, concealing less.
This is a really big, and somewhat terrifying, topic for me.
And, it’s one I want to explore through a series of shorter posts versus one really long, ramble-ly one. So, for now:
What are your thoughts on this whole concealing, revealing, healing topic?
Are there things in your life or in you that you conceal? What purpose does that concealment serve?
And, what might make it safe for you to begin to reveal those fragile parts of yourself so that they can begin to heal? So that you can begin to become more whole?
Staysee Yod says
I love it !!
Maximum transparency is the best policy. Only what you are ashamed of or are afraid to face has to be reflected back to you in shadow form in yourself or others. I applaud you for starting this dialogue.
It’s empowering and inspiring.
Emily Sapp says
That’s interesting, the things I have been tuning into lately have been about concealing *more*. A friend’s father went on a vision quest and was instructed to keep what he got from it to himself–to resist the temptation to go out and tell the world about his new discoveries. Almost as if it gives your power away.
However I was also instructed by my horoscope to give (and receive) abundantly, so maybe giving my “power” away is exactly what I need to do.
I’m getting mixed messages from the magical universe! 😉
Larisa Koehn says
Reflections! Yes. I’ll be keeping that concept in mind as I explore this whole thing more. Thanks Staysee!
Mixed messages indeed! Two thoughts:
1) I’m wondering if there isn’t a difference between those of us that tend to conceal vs those people who more naturally tend to reveal.
For me, my initial reaction when a so-called negative feeling arises is to push it down or conceal it. So, that’s the pattern I’m playing with now.
2) I’m really interested in the whole ‘what isn’t revealed can’t be healed’ thing. What am I hiding (from myself even) that through revealing (safely and perhaps only to myself) will allow me to step more into myself?
overexposure is no fun either! I’ve worked at programs for kids where the curriculum was built around what I thought was overexposure of some of some their most fragile parts. I can think of some instances where it didn’t end well. Just to present the opposite viewpoint :). I think more than just balance, I think it is important to protect sacred or fragile places in ourselves. Important to be able to do both when appropriate. Thanks for being willing to share.
Sarah Lambert says
I have the idea that the “vision quest” is something different.
We’re talking about revealing wounds to heal them, I doubt what was received on the vision quest was a wound, and keeping it secret was
most likely about honoring the sacred. That’s my take on it.
For myself, I tend to lean toward the saying too much side (I’m
a Leo). I think from this end there’s a defense mechanism still
in place that talks about a lot of distractions and let what’s
really at the heart of an issue remain concealed (even if when we
think we aren’t hiding anything).
Ultimately I think the thing to remember for all of this – which
you wrote and touches on what Paul says – safety first. Be present
with what is truly safe for you to share, because saying too much in
the wrong situation can be wounding (as I’ve learned from
Yes! Absolutely. Being able to discern when to protect and when to reveal is very important. That protection is there because it is needed and being asked or forced to expose wounds before ready, before true safety is created, seems invasive and quite terrifying to me. Thanks for the your perspective!
Really appreciate your differentiation between the revealing of sacred experiences and wounds.
And, I was hoping a person who tends to reveal would jump in and share their perspective. 🙂 You answered my un-asked question perfectly… Thank you!
Katie Hart says
Thanks for sharing. I, too, have been a concealer for most of my life and have been working on being more mindful of it.
A fellow concealer! (waves) Thanks so much for revealing your visit. 🙂