Openness is making me uncomfortable

by Kristin on April 4, 2013

in Love, family & community

Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis

I hope you’ll excuse me while I whine for a sentence or two.

I don’t like my One Word any more! It won’t stop getting right in my face, looking me in the eyes and making me uncomfortable!

OK, I feel a bit better having said that.

In January, I chose “openness” as the One Word I hoped would inspire and challenge me throughout the year. It’s the same word I chose for 2012, but that year, when the word started getting on my nerves, I just abandoned it—as if we had never even started a relationship.

This year I went and made a whole plan for how I would stick with it, centered on writing an update on my blog the first Monday of every month (yes, I know this isn’t Monday). I even built in accountability with several of my blogging friends, who are also writing monthly about how things are going with their One Word. (Be sure to check out the updates from Jen, Sonny, Katie, Kari, and Brenna.)

For those who are still with me, I guess I should explain why I’m resenting my word right now. Here’s the short version: I’m resenting “openness” because it seems so completely impossible. I have spent the past month in a state of anxiety (with a touch of fear) as I face big life changes and various challenges that feel completely out of my control (from buying a house today and trying to sell ours, to dealing with parenting challenges and far too many client deadlines in my freelance business). I’m generally overwhelmed and at a loss, and it seems like the only thing I can do to protect myself is the exact opposite of openness: grip things tighter, close myself off, regard God with suspicion, and race around like a manic bundle of nerves as I desperately try to keep so many balls in the air.

In other words, things are getting real. And as far as my One Word is concerned, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to like the idea of openness, or to succeed at openness when life is carefree and easy, and openness comes naturally. It’s another thing to give yourself over to it when everything in you is in fight-or-flight mode.

Here I am in the moment when openness counts more than ever, and I can’t do it. It might not even be that I can’t so much as I won’t. I don’t trust it enough to give myself over to it. (Now that I think of it, openness is closely related to one of those words most of us don’t like much: submit. It’s the good side of submission, but it’s still scary.)

And yet, something drew me to the idea of being more open, so I have to believe it’s something important, and worth exploring. As I wrote back in January about why I chose openness, “I wanted (and still want) to be more open to good things that might emerge as a result of something difficult or frustrating. I wanted (and still want) to be more open to possibility, and less constricted by worry and fear.”

It’s almost like I knew where I was headed and what I would need a few months down the road. Now the challenge is to get from here to there. Right now, perhaps the only shred of openness I’m expressing is just this, here: sharing my fear of openness with you, and my failure to trust it. I may not like the fact that openness has been looking me straight in the face, but at least I’m looking back at it, willing to engage and think about how to let it in.

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  • Kari

    If “earlier this week” means “about 30 minutes before you,” then, YES. I did.

    • kt_writes

      Yep, you beat me! :)

  • Tammy Perlmutter

    Thanks for sharing this, Kristin. I can so relate to the tendency to shut down when things get too much and I want to close off to protect myself from life. I’m glad you haven’t given up on your word yet:)

    • kt_writes

      Your encouragement and accountability in this helps so much, Tammy!

  • HopefulLeigh

    As someone who doesn’t like her One Word right now, I completely get this. Oh, how I get it.

    • kt_writes

      I guess if we chose words that were easy for us to deal with they probably wouldn’t be the right words, right? :) I’m glad I’m not alone in the struggle…

  • Sarah Askins

    I so understand trying to grip everything tighter when it feels like everything is coming apart. For me, April is always the month when I question my One Word, and this year is no different.

    • kt_writes

      Although it’s not a fun way to feel, I’m glad you understand this struggle. We aren’t alone!

  • themoderngal

    Being aware of the fact that you’re resisting openness is half the battle, right? In my own battle with anxiety, just recognizing that I was resisting change and challenges helped me get to a place where I embrace them more.

    • kt_writes

      I think you’re exactly right. When it comes down to it, it’s an issue of control, isn’t it? And in its best form, submitting isn’t actually just a letting go of control, it’s a way of regaining a healthier sense of control. (Sort of like Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek.) Hmmm…

  • Jennifer Luitwieler

    Oh, how I know this struggle. In fact, I can almost feel myself closing off while I read this, because I know I personally am avoiding some things. And I’m not sure why and I don’t want to think about it anyway, so there.

    I know that this is how I feel when I’m on a downward spiral with depression. Like I want to pull into myself and become smaller, even while knowing that pushing against the cocoon is the way to reach the bright, wide, pleasant space.

    Keep going. That’s the best I got.

  • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    I’m sorry for how hard things have been. =( It’s cool though to see how your pressing in, even if it’s just a little to how your word is producing uncomfortability….and getting at the “why” behind it. I hope you’ll keep pressing in….i guess that would be being more open to you. Either way, I’m thankful for this OPEN & honest post about your oneword. =)