Life in the Fish Bowl
My father is a minister of a pretty conservative denomination within the Christian faith. As a Preachers Kid/Missionary Kid (PK or MK, as we termed it), I grew up with people watching me. Peering at my every move, scrutinizing my behavior, decisions, grades, whether I was properly attentive during services to my father's droning sermons, and eyeballing my fashion choices, from crown to toe. In short, I lived in a fish bowl. People would look in, and with their own filters, draw conclusions about me distorted by the curves of the glass. I felt consistently conspicuous, and made great efforts to appear "normal" in an attempt to avoid disapproval.
For many years now, I've been pretty aggressive about avoiding that level of attention. I actively pushed away from leadership positions, chose a quiet profession that lends itself to being away from large groups of people, and then, I went all poly on myself. I discovered that I had things to say, ideas that I wanted to examine with others, I was deliberately deciding to do something a bit out of the norm, that wouldn't blend well. Still, my level of passion for this type of loving was something that couldn't be put on the back-burner. My natural inclinations to be in the forefront started to assert themselves, and I found myself back in the fish bowl. It's even pushed into my professional life, and every week, there I am in front of a roomful of business professionals, running the show.
Poly, now that I've been able to move past (by and large) the childhood fear of disapproval, has given me a handle towards using the gifts that I have in leadership. Professionally, this has been really useful to me. Personally, I've benefited by having a strong network of support and caring friends surrounding me.
As PG and I have been moving towards dissolution/radical change in our relationship, that feeling of fear about being in the fish bowl has been popping back up again. What do people really think? If I have good relationship skills, why is this happening, and why would anyone find value in what I have to share? Aren't leaders supposed to do everything well? How can I continue to put myself out there while the biggest relationship I've ever had disintegrates around me?
For now, I keep coming back to the idea that even people who love each other and try very hard, even those with amazing skills to bring to the table, sometimes don't succeed in making things go, and that doesn't mean that those skills, or those people, are any less valid as examples of ways to have a fantastic relationship. So, I'll keep plugging away here, and with the discussion group I host, and keep that high profile, because life in the fish bowl still has something to offer me, and perhaps someone else.