On thick skin
categories: unquiet things
My sisters jest that “Sarah had a feeling once. It made her very uncomfortable. She didn’t like it.”
I don’t know that I have always been this way. I recall being very tender-hearted and sensitive at a young age, but somewhere along the way I must have learned that this is a dangerous thing, allowing oneself to feel things too deeply, and worse – letting the world see that you feel things too deeply.
I have known my fair share of people who value cleverness over kindness, those who would pride themselves on their “brutal honesty” and that they “pull no punches”. I believe you can’t have brutal honesty without a brute at the very core and I am no brute; rather than fight like with like, I learned that I must toughen up and develop a thicker skin to deal with these people and deflect their unkind cuts, their churlishness and rancor.
Over the years this thick skin has become an intangible but very organic feeling armor, calloused in some places, worn through in others. I’ve learned not to cry, or if I must weep, I steel myself against my tears, allowing them to fall and harden and become stiff patches which I will harvest and use to mend those tears in my armor where the chinks are beginning to show. These tears, now fortifications, are protection against the very things that caused them – and those things will not make me cry again.
Later in life I am learning that this thick skin, this armor, does not always serve me well. It has allowed me to only to half-feel, or not to feel at all…. and this lack of feeling, this numbness, this blocking of emotion and engagement, has stunted some relationships before they had time to flourish. Or perhaps it inhibits me from pursuing the friendship or relationship or opportunity at all.
I am learning that this skin is not one in which I can live in permanently…but nor is it one that I need to shed completely. I think it is something I can don when I know I will be in a situation during which I can become hurt, where there are people whose motivations are suspect, whose words are inconsiderate and thoughtless at best or harsh and hateful at worst. People with personalities that jab and poke and dig, and from whom I need protection
And yet I am realizing that to live fully and immersively, I need to be able to quietly slip this skin off, fold it up and stow it away and allow myself to be unguarded and vulnerable with those whom I feel safe. I do have these people in my life, and they are good people, and they deserve that part of me. And I know I deserve that experience. Of being fully loved, of crying if it comes to that, and allowing myself to feel.
Here’s to you, my thick skin. For growing and developing as I needed you, for protecting and preserving me, and for changing and adapting to fit my transformation as I move forward, feeling my way through this world.
This was beautiful, and resonant. <3
This is such a strong and vulnerable piece, and your writing is so lovely, per usual. Also, the image of slipping skin on and off reminds me of selkie myths a lot (don't know if you ever read Women Who Run with the Wolves, but there's a good section in it on these myths). Not sure if that symbol clicks for you at all, but felt compelled to share just in case. Sending love. XO
Hello Mlle Ghoul,
I wanted to share that your honest and wonderful writings such as this article have given me so much inspiration. I thought it would be nice to share something with you that just might give you a tiny bit of inspiration, too. It is a site that offers a very in-depth article for free about the astrological & numerology-based significance of the day, month, and year you were born.
I have had a somewhat similar past to yours, which is why I gain so much inspiration from your blog -- it is similar in the way that although my family wasn't as functional as they could have been and it has caused me emotional turmoil combined with the need to protect myself emotionally, I have managed to gain a lot of strength and support through mystical and occult teachings. Astrology is my main tool I use to help me grow as an individual, and this site gave me hope and inspiration. When we are exploring the more fragile and bruised areas of our psyches, it is helpful to keep a hold of those things in this world that shine a light on what lifts us up, strengthens us, and gives us wisdom. Personally, I find astrology to be on of those things. It gives us strength because it gives us answers to why we have certain struggles, and weaknesses... And it gives inspiration & wisdom because it reveals where our powers can be found; the aspects of our nature that give us power that perhaps we overlooked or just never noticed were within us all along.
Take care & keep up the inspiring posts :) :) :)
This is so beautiful. Thank you so much for writing and sharing your journey. I see so many of my tarot clients going through this exact same kind of discovery and transformation, and you have put it into words so perfectly. Reclaim that tender sweet child. Show her it's okay to feel again. She's still in there, and she is amazing.
I can relate to this post completely. It's difficult finding a balance between maintaining a shield and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.