My first date with my husband came after having known him for years. When we sort of met eachother again there appeared an elephant in the room- a big, pink, squishy, sparkly elephant, whom I tried to ignore and who kept whispering, "he's somehow cuter today, don't you think so?..." After dinner, in my hometown, we went for a walk and I didn't think I was orchestrating this but we ended up down at the lakefront, at sunset, on the end of a pier. When I realized what I had done we were standing, facing eachother, in a few seconds of silence. To which I replied, "OK SO YOU PROBABLY THINK I PLANNED THIS WHoOoOLE THING AND MADE IT SoOoO ROMANTIC AND THE MOON IS COMING UP AND THERE'S PEOPLE MAKING OUT ALL AROUND US SO THAT WE'D GET OUT HERE AND YOU'D KISS ME SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST GO AHEAD AND DO IT. " I just learned from Brene Brown's fantastic book, Daring Greatly, that this is called floodlighting and it's a defense mechanism. What we're doing is oversharing, and doing it where no intimacy has been established. When we overshare we are responding to vulnerability; maybe experiencing an uncomfortable amount of vulnerability or maybe wishing the vulnerability had a soft place to land. Oversharing calls out our boundaries, and makes mutual connection difficult. I do it when my thoughts see me as awkward. Awkward is one of the worst things I could think to be, a thought I cooked up long ago. Oversharing is the song and dance that distracts people from my vulnerability, a cacophony of words to keep you from noticing that I have just asked for what I really want, I have just shown you who I really am, that my heart is on my sleeve. The strange phenomena is, at the same time I'm asking for what I most want, I'm also trying to destroy all possibility of getting it. It's the thought that I don't have to be disappointed or hurt by you if I take care of it myself. In the immortal words of Janet Jackson, we're exercising (an illusion of) control. I have noticed that the longer I sit in it and accept it, the more possibilities appear for action and the more freedom I have from thoughts of having any control.
I played a bit of Russian Roulette that night and was lucky, he leaned in and kissed me just like I asked. There are times the song and dance have gone really... sideways. The thing I am reminding myself is that vulnerability takes courage, and that oversharing might feel like courage but it is a circus sideshow. True connection begins with trust, sharing just one sparkly bit at a time.