Had coffee with one of my FF friends a few weeks ago. Most Mornings I usually try and stop at Starbucks on my way into work. Most days it is the only few minutes of the work day where the phone's not ringing or an email needs to be returned. This day FF saw my car in the parking lot and decided to stop in and catch up with me. We live right across the street from each other but still have a hard time making time to visit.
She came in and we hung out for awhile. She's one of the few friends who has always known me as Dana and is usually caught off guard when people refer to me as the old me. As we sat there I realized I was very late for work so I called K to let her know I'd be late. In typical K fashion she decided to join the party and said she'd be right over to get some coffee and hang with us for awhile.
Now the problem is I have multiple worlds. I try my best to keep my worlds separated. I have my FF friends who for the most part see me as Dana, and I have my work who see the old me. K is the only member of both worlds. She's my best friend and has known Dana since the beginning, but she is an important part of my work world as well and she sees both sides of me.
So K and FF are sitting there with me and I'm not sure how it started but they both start comparing notes on Dana, sure fire problem. Sure enough it turns out the they both share a similar thought. They both are bothered by the dual identity I carry with me, sometimes the old me, sometimes Dana. It confuses them they say. They both agree they never really know who's going to show that day.
Here's the problem in a nutshell. I've had to separate the two sides for so long that I'm not sure how to only present one. For years I've hidden Dana even from the ones I love in order to protect them and myself. Everyday for years I'd wake up and review my day. Thinking out who I'd meet and where I needed to go. Need to go to the store, see a customer, old me. Stay home, no deliveries at work, Dana.
There's two parts to this, first I'd do this to hide Dana and keep my secret a secret. But I also found myself thinking I don't want to burden K, or M with the embarrassment of being with Dana in public. It must be hard to be seen with me and have to explain this to whoever we might run into during the day.
I didn't want to push my problem into their lives anymore then I already have. But here's the rub, neither one ask for the this treatment. I'm only doing this to protect them from me because I'm scared. I'm scared to leave the cocoon of the house and office. I'm scared of forcing them into my world for fear I'll scare them away. I still see all the struggles as a fault, as something broken with me. I try my best to hide the struggles from them lest they see the real me.
So K's comment that never knowing which me was coming to work that day surprised me. I never stopped to look at it from K's or M's view, how not knowing who they are going see next would be hard on them.
I still need both worlds there's no ignoring the fact that I can't turn off Dana and be the old me. And, there are times when the world needs the old me and can't handle Dana. What I need to work on is find a way to give the ones around me consistency, Dana here and the old me there, 100% of the time. Give my loved ones some stability and consistency.
Every day is a struggle and I still struggle with this every morning. But now I think of K and M and try and give them the one they love, struggles and faults and all. It's darkest in the morning, never knowing the direction to go that day.