What does it cost us when we hide?

I got quiet over the last several years. Separation, divorce, dating… suddenly my stories were not just my own but intertwined with others in very real ways. I wasn’t sure what I could share anymore. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Everything felt too private + I was afraid of being judged. Aside from my weekly writing group, I stopped writing entirely.

This has been a huge loss to my spirit.

There’s a price we pay when we hide, when we cut off our voices, when we stop sharing our truth (even to ourselves). My joy has suffered for it.

I did this most of my life. Kept my opinions to myself, only said what I thought others wanted to hear, was polite and didn’t make waves. It’s a good survival strategy – one that can keep you safe. And for a long time, that’s all I really wanted.

It was through art that I finally found my voice again. I painted and made jewelry and took photographs and it was joyous to find this other language for my heart to speak. With visual art, no one could tell me I was wrong or silence me… it was just my expression. A language all my own.

Writing has been a different edge. It takes much bigger courage for me to share this way, especially when I am out of practice. But I am coming out of hiding! Peeking my head out of the covers because I know my spirit is hungry for it. Starved for it in fact.

What does it cost us when we trade our truth/our voice/our creative expression for safety?

Aliveness, connection, joy.

For me, it also means feeling alone in the world. Not lonely exactly, but alone in my experiences. All those years of sharing so openly with my community here reminded me that we are all suffering in similar ways. We all hunger for the same things. We all want to feel seen. We all want to feel connected to each other.

It takes courage to lay the words down, to share our art, to push publish. Our ego will try to shut it down – This is crap. What can you possibly say that hasn’t been said? No one’s going to read it anyway.

And yet. The impulse is still there. The hunger to connect, to share what’s in our hearts, to be of service in some small way. The hope that if one person is touched, it will be worth it.

So here I am, sharing the tiniest window into my heart. Baby steps. Inviting you to stick with me for a while and create this gorgeous little community anew.

And because I always like to offer a question back to you: Can you think of a time when you were hiding? What happened? What did it cost you?

27 Comments

  1. Stacy
    Posted July 18, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Love you, Andrea. Thanks for sharing your truth. I’ll be here! Xo

  2. Jody
    Posted July 18, 2018 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Lovely post, Andrea! I SO get this…I’ve been trying to unpack depression/anxiety/loneliness recently and have realized that a lot of it was triggered when my fourth baby was born with special needs over 9 years ago…and I definitely GOT QUIET. I’ve been hiding and isolating…saying and doing all of the right things…but not sharing my truth…the truth of loving your little one so much but being so scared you are NOT enough…fast forward and my 21 year old has put me on notice for all of the “lack” she’s felt for the past decade & is keeping me at arms length…which has been excruciating… hence (with the help of my therapist)the unpacking…but this idea of how I’ve gotten quiet and silenced parts of myself because of all my momma fears…that resonates on a very deep level…I’ve been calling it depression…but this “getting quiet” feels more accurate…finding my voice and my spirit again feels like a better objective than just not being depressed…whew…I guess I needed to share all that…thank you for the space AND all the truthy words…XO

  3. Kelly
    Posted July 18, 2018 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Still hiding, but thank you Andrea. I love your writing, honesty and integrity. Keep making art every day.

  4. Posted July 19, 2018 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, thank you for your comments and sharing and love! So glad you are still out there. xo

  5. Carole Meyer-Rieth
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I’m always glad to hear your voice in your writing, Andrea – your openness, your excitement for and care for other people, your creativity! Also, keeping some things to ourselves can be a good thing too – a way of knowing things we feel and experience have value even apart from the validation of others. Your beautiful worth, your incredible value, is a stable truth.

  6. Julie
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Still hiding a part of my life … I am not able to share the joy or the despair … it is a secret life …

  7. Barbara
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    This morning “Language” appeared in my inbox. This seems to be about love but isn’t it where we all have been when we’ve climbed a huge mountain and survived the journey maybe because we haven’t used big words to describe it? Maybe we too need new words at least in the silence of our own minds. It’s only seven in the morning here. So glad to hear from you in this way.

    Language

    When a man is in love
    how can he use old words?
    Should a woman
    desiring her lover
    lie down with
    grammarians and linguists?

    I said nothing
    to the woman I loved
    but gathered
    love’s adjectives into a suitcase
    and fled from all languages.

    Nizar Qabbani
    trans. Lena Jayyusi and Jack Collom

  8. Posted July 19, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow Barbara, that’s an incredible poem… thank you for sharing!

  9. Viola
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    That time is now, for me

  10. Posted July 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Love this post! So resonates with where I’m at right now. I love writing and all my creative artistic expression. When reading back at my old posts, I keep thinking, “who is that woman!” . I’ve lost that edge, courage and brave spirit to share my creativity and heart. Thanks for sharing! Borrowing your courage until I reignite mine 🙂

  11. Doug
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing! We humans are generally highly social animals, and we benefit from our interactions with others. So when we hide we reduce the benefit to ourselves as well as to others. Which is a shame.

    My biggest personal experience of hiding was in growing up. I had an accident in which I ended up losing a front (permanent) tooth. Not long after I got my braces removed no less. Kids can be pretty harsh to people with differences, and my missing tooth made me different (it was soon replaced with a partial, but the damage was done.)

    Oddly, I think the understanding that the teasing was going to happen had an even greater impact than the ACTUAL level of teasing. It’s interesting how perception/perspective does that.

    Which brings me to the point of how I help improve my perception/perspective. And that is through gratitude. It’s what makes me want to express blessing in the same way as expressed in your Henry Miller quote. Expressing it to the pebbles, to the goat’s beard, to the flower growing along your path, and to the matches in the gutter. Was once encouraged to express 5 things I was grateful for that day, before going to bed. Has been a good habit.

    Again, thanks for sharing, and hopes that we all hide less.

  12. Amanda
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrea,

    Thank you for your open post. I’ve been hiding for the past 5.5 years. A recovering people pleaser, I loved the below poem that I found by Bob Dylan.

    In the last 4 years, I’ve been practicing boundary setting and open authenticity in baby steps. I’m happy to say that opening up is getting easier. I am so so thankful for creating a self-practice.

    I write this to say you are not alone. I feel that we are together through your words. I applaud your bravery in your post. Shine on!

    My Lady Can Sleep by Bob Dylan

    My lady can sleep
    Upon a handkerchief
    Or if it be Fall
    Upon a fallen leaf.

    I have seen the hunters
    Kneel before her hem–
    Even in her sleep
    She turns away from them.

    The only gift they offer
    Is their abiding grief–
    I pull out my pockets
    For a handkerchief or leaf.

  13. Angela
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m hiding in fact right now! And I feel all the ways you have described: Joyless, alone, disconnected. I’ve gone through this many times in my life, though that does nothing to mitigate the difficulty of actually going through it. Time heals all, and until it does, I too find my photography helps me safely reconnect to myself and others when I’m not feeling up to the challenge of writing.I also find being in nature, whether through a walk in my neighborhood or gardening, works wonders for my soul. I think our art, whatever form it takes, helps us process whatever we’re dealing with. And then one day, suddenly the words come, and we feel safe to fully show ourselves again. Thanks so much for this post Andrea!

  14. Debbie
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Andrea. I have fallowed you and your photography for several years now. You are such a sweetheart. I knew there were changes going on in your life but one thing I noticed you didn’t stop living. I never thought that I was “hiding” but you are right. That’s exactly what I have done since a first abusive marriage. It’s been 38 years now and I am still hiding and I don’t know why. My second marriage (38 years) has been good but I am still afraid to come out of hiding. I’ve done some type of art for 35 years trying to break out but I always go back to my quiet hand work in my lap looking down. Maybe this was not my lifetime. Maybe my next. Your piece touched me today. Thank you.

  15. Posted July 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, I am bowing with and to and for you and all of us. Your writing and your courage and your truth have landed into my email box at just the right time too many times to count. I too am quite skilled in the hiding arts and have been on a lifelong dance with myself and others…discovering what people places and situations draw me out of hiding and which ones make me want to nun myself back into cloister living.
    Thank you for showing yourself and thank you for hiding and thank you for deciding to emerge again, it all feels rich and beautiful and strange and real.
    I am coming out too…and so it feels super good to have your particular good company in this re-emergence!
    With a hand outstretched
    Jani

  16. Lisa R
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, when I hide, I don’t recognize myself because I’m lost in being afraid. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gained perspective on what I want my life to stand for. I’m getting better at being more brave.

  17. Posted July 19, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, you have described me exactly. I’ve hid my whole life, mostly from conflict. What did it cost me? Almost my son. It’s what my memoir is about. And it wasn’t even his medical crisis that saved me. It was writing about it. And now my writing may cost me my extended family because they’re not used to me speaking my truth. I’ll be sad if I lose them, but I’ll have found myself. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. Thanks for YOUR bravery to open up this topic!

  18. Leanne
    Posted July 19, 2018 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Yet again, I feel that you wrote my words too Andrea.
    Particularly the part about much being intertwined and not wanting to share where others are involved. Art is a wonderful expression when words are not safe.
    Loving your work as always.

    What did it cost? When I get my voice back fully I will let you know. Relationships, promotion, reputation, respect, confidence, courage, happiness and joy in doing what I love come to mind. I read the other day strength comes from taking the bricks people throw at us and using them to build a stronger foundation. It glossed over the bit where you need to move from under the weight of the bricks and heal the wounds first… but it has truth!

  19. Sally
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I loved this post. I’m in hiding right now. After 3years in the spotlight sharing my creativity I feel swamped with doubts, uncertainty, fatigue & comparisonitis. I long to create again & have the courage to share but I worry what I have to say no longer matters. I’m a joy Seeker too. For now I’m relishing moments at the beach, meditating in the sun & creating sacred spaces in my home. Hoping courage finds me again soon ❤️

  20. Holly
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Welcome home to you! ✨❤️✨

  21. Posted July 20, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Dear Andrea,

    I always love reading your personal stories and you are my big example and hero. Thank you so much for that!

    Hiding in the past always made me lose my voice for days. I didn’t dare to speak up, I didn’t know how to and I kept all anger and frustration inside.

    It was very painful and still I sometimes feel like screaming to release all of that energy.

    I luckily found healthier ways to deal with pent up emotions and I am very happy with all the support that is out there.

    Thank you for your guidance!

    XO, Marianne

  22. Posted July 20, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I really appreciate this post Andrea. I have felt a real need to NOT share these last few months, especially while traveling in the US with my family the last few weeks. I think that social media and blogging was a wonder when it all first started. Many people found themselves part of a global community or tribe or whatever, when it might have been lacking in the local scene. And it launched a lot of careers! But it feels to me in the last few years that everyone is lonelier than ever. There are endless studies on this. While visiting friends and family here in the States I might have once felt compelled to share pictures and stories. Now I don’t. And I feel it’s more connected to my maturity and my desire to live fully, instead of live and share. I don’t think it has to do with losing my voice. Perhaps there’s some of that in your story too. Anyway, I always appreciated your voice and admired your work. you’ll find the balance that feels right to you.

  23. Posted July 20, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I have never heard of you before and the timing of your article is of course divine.

    So now I am off to burry my nose in the comfort of medical research and share my theories I have been wanting to share for a lifetime.

    Time to reconcile those old conditioned patterns taught to me by an old paradigm, no longer shall self doubt and self worth have such a hold on me.

    Gratitude to you for inspiring me with your keystrokes that created the wind to help me sore higher in life.

    Namaste,
    Leah

  24. Catherine
    Posted July 20, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    A few thoughts: 1) so many people feel disconnected and alone (not lonely) but it doesn’t matter that lots of people feel that way when I am the one who does, 2) not hiding has consequences. Recently I was chastised for being a downer and making choices about my life whereby there is a fair amount of difficulty and sorrow around me (not to me but in people around me who then need me), and 3) my biggest joy these days is in photographing and playing with my photographs, which all started with the San Miguel trip.

  25. Jennifer
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I see you! So brave and honest. You are a super hero! I think I was hiding for maybe 10 years? I’m trying not to hide anymore, too. It’s hard and scary but I don’t want to look back and wonder why I disappeared.

  26. Gloria king
    Posted July 22, 2018 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    I get this. I have been hiding forever bc it’s safe and I won’t be judged. Before the internet I was free and I painted and was very crafty but the comparison thing and I’m older I think I I kinda gave up. It’s just the truth. Your story spoke to me.

  27. Diana Schwab
    Posted July 27, 2018 at 2:22 am | Permalink

    Your words resonate for me in a big way. I’ve been hiding from my writing voice for four years. My inner critic got the best of me. Writing about my raw truth got too scary when the journey became more challenging. A son with mental illness, my own depression, a rocky marriage, starting a new career, and now becoming an empty nester. Our stories all have a different narrative, but they all have the same theme. Our theme is that we long to connect, to be heard, to be happy, live with authenticity, and feel joy. Thanks to the many teachers out there, you being one of them, I am learning for the first time, to speak my truth, regardless of how it makes other people feel. My truth comes out with kindness, and it comes in baby steps.
    I find solitude in my flower garden, and the ocean. I standup paddle, out among the dolphins and whales, it feeds my soul. Photography is the only art which speaks to me right now. I love to take pictures of flowers. Their beauty never ceases to amaze me.

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