Layers and Secrets: A Message to My Friend, Part 1

The day after my brother’s wedding reception, the family and a few close friends gathered at his and my sister-in-law Ann’s apartment.

It was about as a casual an occasion as you can imagine, so I took out my knitting. I happened to be using some beautiful hand-carved needles for a project made of angora and lambswool. Ann’s friend David, an artist, took note of the needles.

“They’re a piece of art by themselves,” he commented, and graciously asked me about what I was making. In turn, I told him how beautifully he’d sung the night before, something I’m sure he was used to hearing. David has a phenomenal voice; at one time he was a soloist in the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. Let me assure you that is an accomplishment.

We had a really pleasant conversation. Seventeen years later, I still look forward to the time we speak again. David later commented to my brother how nice I was, and my brother was  certain he hadn’t spoken to me. Nice? Not how viewed his sister.

I am nice, to a fault. But while I can be very, very good, I can also be horrid. Less so as I’ve gotten older, I suppose, but yes, I can be nasty. Family dynamics being what they are, I’m guessing this was a time when there was more tension between my brother and me than happiness.

December 2014
Friends typically are taken aback by this shot of me from Dec. 2014. I generally look so much “nicer.”

A few years ago I went through a hell I’m working hard to move past, and it changed me. Initially I found I was much better able to stand up for myself, and a layer of anger seemingly charged all of my actions. The anger still exists, but it’s only a small part of the whole now.

Sometimes, though, my anger and frustration can’t help but eak out, and I have to have a long talk with myself. I choose not to become someone who resorts to passive-aggressive tactics to communicate her feelings, but in order to do that, I have to monitor what I’m feeling and and why.

I am not someone it’s easy to get to know. I constantly surprise those who think they know me well with an offhand comment that reveals I’m not so naÏve or sheltered as they think I am. I frequently hide much of myself from others and conform to their image of me. It’s easier that way.

The blessing for me in all of this is I understand people are more complex than we often realize. I tend to be less surprised about someone’s hidden talents or quirks because I accept that that is the norm. We all have layers we hide beneath the everyday aspects of ourselves.

Layers, and secrets.

(A three-part series on Layers and Secrets.  Look for Part 2 next week!)


20 Replies to “Layers and Secrets: A Message to My Friend, Part 1”

  1. Belinda–this touched many buttons for me, also. I am not easy to get to know. I am quiet, but not shy, so I see more than I say. I use sarcastic humor as a barometer on if a person and I will get along. People are always surprised that I have this snappy sense of humor because….why? They thought I was quiet and shy. People make assumptions and what always stays in my head is this quote I heard: “It is none of your business what people think about you.” Some people are just not going to get along, so I just move on until I find someone who totally clicks with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve gone through life with people thinking I’m sheltered and naive, and I get so tired of it. I’ve started to write parts 2 & 3 of this series and they’re going in a different direction than I envisioned…love it when my writing has a mind of its own…anyway, I totally understand what you’re saying.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean, you’re not pulling any punches. It takes courage and being naive in a brave way, to do so. I do the same. Its great! Soothes us I think.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the way you are able to be so honest about things – it is refreshing. I like to write that way and sometimes it’s gotten me into trouble. But I continue to share things like you have. Recently, my two brothers who didn’t speak to each other for 4 years were brought together again. I helped it to come about and as you’ve said, people are very complex with many layers.
    I celebrate peeling them back. You and I are good at doing that!
    ps. Would love to see those special needles and what you’ve knitted sometime. Can you take a picture?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree, we all definitely have layers. We may be one way with family and friends, and another way at work. I also think we add layers and peel off layers throughout time … We are constantly changing and adapting. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I understand how much easier it is to conform to others’ expectations, but around 2014, I had to just give it up. I’ve recently decided to peel away each of those layers no matter where I am. I’ve decided to be me. But I look forward to reading the other parts to see how things unfold.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t like the part of me that conforms. I do it around strong personalities that push to be right regardless of the truth, because the emotional energy required to stand up for myself is sometimes more than I have available, especially as I deal with various health issues that drain me. It’s not how I recommend living, and it’s not the bulk of how I live. But sometimes I give in because I don’t have the physical or emotional resources to do otherwise. It’s my reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve always wished I could be a little bit nasty. Instead, I’m just really good at a cold shoulder, which I, like you, have chosen to learn about and modulate, over the years.

    This is such a such a lovely, thoughtful piece, complex and well written. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “We all have layers we hide beneath the everyday aspects of ourselves.” Truer words were never said! I’m glad you are beyond your hell and moving towards your heaven!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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