Outer You vs Inner You: Who are you?
Everyone experiences change from time to time. We grow, we age, and we learn. We try something new. We move to a new place. We get a new job. We go back to school. We meet new people. We fall in love. We have our hearts broken. We lose someone we love. We fall down, and we get back up. We try again. We adapt. We gain experience and find out more about ourselves. Some things may never change, while other things evolve with time.
Think about who you were when you were in high school.
I moved across the state between my 9th and 10th grade years. I went from a class size of roughly 300-400 students to around 1,200 students. I was terrified. I was leaving my friends and having to start over in a new town at a new school. What helped with this transition was band. I played the clarinet. During my years with the high school band, we had kids from all walks of life. We weren’t made up of just one group, but every group. I’ve always been pretty reserved and quiet, but in band, I learned a lot about leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. I was the section leader and library staff manager in 11th grade, and then, I tried out and became the drum major (student conductor) for the marching band during my 12th grade year. I learned how to project confidence when giving commands, and I felt like I had a responsibility to be someone the students in my band could depend on. I was the first person on the field before our shows started, and I was the one the entire band looked to for direction.
Think about who you were in college.
I continued band in college and was moved up to section leader after my first year. Again, we had students from all over campus from every type of degree program. I started working on my mechanical engineering degree and math minor. We focused a lot on teamwork and using new technology to solve problems. I decided to try my luck and applied for an internship at NASA. I was accepted and had one of the best summer experiences ever. In fact, I had so much fun that I went back three more times. Twice as a research associate and then I was promoted to Operations Manager for the last two summers. I took several honors classes throughout college and graduated with a 3.29/4.0.
Think about who you were during your early career.
I immediately got a job as a mechanical engineer quoting, designing, and fabricating steel tanks and pressure vessels. Over seven years, I went from mechanical engineer to project engineer to project manager to lead engineering business analyst. I implemented the accounting software which I knew inside and out. I even had to do all accounting manager responsibilities for six months before the company transitioned to a new owner.
Think about who you are now.
Now, I work in project financials. I’ve been with this company for just over a year. I’ve been trying to bring new ideas to the table and implement improvements on all of our current processes. I had an excellent one year evaluation which led to a promotion and a raise.
What have we not talked about? I’ve told you about who the outside world sees. This is the person you would meet at a conference or out in public.
Okay, so who are you when you can relax and be you?
Well, the previous posts on this blog take you through a lot of my intimate experiences with sex and spanking. Tom was the first person who tried to understand what I was yearning for. To his credit, he read every blog entry before I gave up blogging. He also read a private journal where I endeavored to be as open as possible with him. For a couple of years, he tried. And then, he didn’t.
For the time when he was trying, I discovered a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I wasn’t just this confident, strong, responsible, and independent young woman who could solve problems. I was also someone who needed a break from the stress of being the one who was always depended on. I needed someone else to take over for a while. I needed to know someone cared about me. I needed to be held. needed to be able to let go.
When Tom’s dad passed away, I started losing him. I stepped up and went above and beyond because that’s who I am. I am a fixer. I am a giver. I am dependable and loyal. I was more than capable of handling whatever life threw at us because I had to be. I could get us through this. I just had to be strong enough, caring enough, loving enough, and want it enough.
As it got harder and Tom gradually pulled away from me, I pulled away from who I was and what I wanted. I stopped blogging, stopped keeping up with others, and wasn’t even available for my friends anymore. My entire world revolved around Tom, his addiction, and the daily shit he put me through. After I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I told him, “It’s me or all of this (referring to his drug use and the house his drug addict friends were in – he was at another addict’s house in the middle of a work night in my damn car that I needed to get to work in the morning).” He chose, “All of this.” “You need to move out.” (He didn’t make it back home in time to take me to work the next morning. I ended up having to call my dad, so I could be fucking responsible and go to work.)
In August of last year, I wrote something that I considered posting here. But, I was not ready. Instead, I shared it with a dear friend who encouraged me to also share it with my therapist. I’m choosing to bring it up now because I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. In fact, I still struggle with it every day.
I am the person who has done everything my résumé says I’ve done, but what I can’t seem to reconcile is how is that the same person who wrote the following.
“Outer You vs Inner You”
Are the versions of you drastically different? Do you act differently? Do you hide behind a façade?
The versions of me are very different. I do act differently depending on the situation, and I do hide behind a much more outwardly acceptable personality.
At work, by some miracle, I’ve been able to hide what’s going on inside. Instead, I appear confident, ask questions, present ideas, work well by myself and with others, and strive to change things for the better for everyone. Before a meeting where I know I have to speak, I’ll get nervous, but I push through and am not afraid to throw out ideas. I am very mindful of others and how they do their jobs, and I do everything I can to make all of our work days a little easier.
When I’m around family and friends, they know I have some self-confidence issues. However, other than that being all in my head, I am a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need to rely on anyone. I own my house, I am about to buy a new vehicle, and I have a decent job where I am making more than paycheck to paycheck.
Underneath the Wonder Woman façade, I feel everything. I am free, lost, relieved, sad, excited, hurt, broken, happy, angry, and frustrated. I am dealing with imposter syndrome. I am dealing with a break up after years of living together. I am excited by new possibilities, but I am afraid of rejection. I am vulnerable and full of insecurities. I am hopeful yet still struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I know it is no one else’s responsibility to help me. I know only I can learn to cope and walk this road. I know it takes time. But, knowing all of that just makes me feel so much more alone. I feel guilty for reaching out to people who understand – I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. I don’t want to sound like a broken record – same shit, different day. I don’t want to bring someone else down because I feel like hell. I feel stupid for even talking about what I’m going through because I feel like it really is no big deal especially when I know other people are going through so much worse than my little first world problems. Also, I’m confused because what I feel doesn’t align with how I think I should feel or how I think I should handle how I feel. If I remove myself from the situation, I could tell you exactly what’s wrong, what to try, and how to start working through it. So, what’s the problem?
Avoidant behavior. I am acting like nothing has happened. I do things to prevent myself from thinking too much, and I spend time with people who I do trust but not enough to completely let go around. I am ignoring the desperate need to breakdown and let go. Why? Because it’s easier than dealing with everything. I don’t want to fall apart alone because I miss being held and comforted, which only emphasizes the loneliness and spirals me down even further.
But, you know what? Life goes on and stops for no one. So, if I don’t have time for this – for me feeling sorry for myself, how can I expect anyone else to have time for it – for me.
Who are you today?
I’m not sure. Would you believe things got worse in the time since writing that. I feel like I’ve lost so much self-confidence and self-acceptance that I find it incredibly difficult to trust myself. I have fallen into periods of being depressed and painfully numb. I’ve gone through many anxiety and panic attacks. I still haven’t been able to really focus consistently at work, and I feel like I’m barely doing the minimum to get by. I hit a point where I felt like I lost everything about me. I haven’t even been able to cry in months, and I want so desperately to experience what’s in my pinned tweet with someone I can really trust – “What I wouldn’t give for a wall-breaking spanking, the cathartic release kind of crying, and some “it’s okay – I’ve got you” aftercare, followed by some restful sleep…”
Last week was the first time in a long time where I felt a little hope in the darkness. I held on to that hope and wrote my first blog entry in four years. It’s time to start sharing my story, to try new things, and to continue recovering.
I want to take a moment to thank many of you for the encouragement you have given me since I took these small steps both here and on Twitter. Your support and kindness mean so much to me. ❤️