Anyone in my life is probably aware that I am not a very good friend. That isn’t to say that I don’t love people, or their friendship doesn’t have a deep meaning or lasting value for me. It’s more like, I don’t know how to participate in their lives.
I think about them, find them fascinating, appreciate their courage, wit, wisdom, and tenacity. But there is some barrier that I’ve created that won’t seem to allow me to give myself over to the process of partaking in a two-way relationship. Nearly everything is done from a distance.
Maybe I’ve talked about it before, but I feel most safe, confident and able to move freely through the world when I am on my motorcycle, dressed in my gear, wearing my helmet. Those are the moments when I am breathing in the life around me and am open enough to connect. It’s when I feel the safety of not being laid bare and I will let you come closer. It’s when I feel that we are friends in both directions.
Yes, I realize that probably makes no sense – saying that I am open and engaged when I am encased in protective clothing. You see me, but not all of me; you happily consume the pre-programmed narrative. And because the costume is so specific, rarely does the dialog veer away from the bubble of this perfect activity and it’s trappings. And while the conversation is often metaphorically something beyond motorcycling itself, that ruse makes the conversation possible.
When did I become so closed off, so fearful of being seen? I can’t quite put my finger on it. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. These examples of the things that make me withdraw in person sound crazy but what the hell, I’ve already burned that bridge:
I’m at the point where it is a struggle for me to expose my arms above the elbow. The thought of someone seeing both of my naked shoulders or upper arms makes me squirm. Oh, and it is cringeworthy for you to see my face from less than 2 feet away, especially in daylight. Add to that the fact that I’m fixated on the idea that I smell horrible at all times. And I obsessively pick at my face, sometimes for like for 45 minutes at a clip until whatever imperfection I was picking at is now really something to look at. Shitty admission: I’ve been late to work because of that in particular. In short, I feel like if I freely deliver up just how gross I am, you will reject me and I don’t want that kind of anguish.
What the fuck is all that? It’s nuts! But, it’s my truth. And no external well wishes, sympathy, compliments or anything changes these things.
These… quirks… must’ve been bubbling, generating steam for a long time. Then last year, the pressure became too much to bear and I fucking cracked. I wish it weren’t true but I’m still dealing with the fallout. These unwanted guests at my tea party won’t take the hint and hit the road. Day in, day out I try to find a way to throw their asses out to seemingly no avail.
There is nothing for me to gain by telling whoever you are these things. In fact, I’m sure it makes people think I’m a psycho. And while they may, in fact, be right, tattling on myself just feels like the right thing to do.
I’m broken but trying.
Motorcycles are my refuge. Each ride, each time I open myself up to a wider circle, each time I tiptoe outside of my comfort zone, I am shown by example that my fears never culminate to my worst case scenario. It happens over and over again. And yet for now… well, you know.