Days Without Skin
So I was on the phone with a friend this morning and I asked how she was to which she replied “skinless”.
I laughed because I could so relate. I don’t have many days that feel like I have no skin but I do have them every now and again. Our conversation got me thinking though. Why do we have those days where it feels like we have no barriers to the outside? Why are there days when nothing really has changed in my life except my ability to deal with forces outside myself? What is one to do when one is forced to go out into the world sans skin?
To my friend, I suggested she wear a sign today that reads:
Today I am having a day where all of my feelings and nerve endings are on the outside. Tread carefully...I will be better tomorrow.
She laughed and said that it wasn’t a bad idea. I laughed because I can totally see me posting something like that on my door...
Most of my days, I sail through seemingly covered in teflon. Lots of shit happens all day long but nothing sticks to me...just slides right off and onto some other poor sap. But I do, on occasion, wake up feeling vulnerable. Like I am transparent and all my thoughts, feelings and emotions are not only on the surface but visible to any passerby. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing except that I really do not want all of you to know exactly what I am thinking and feeling all the time. I will share but I prefer to do that on my timetable and agenda...not yours.
So what gives with days where my skin is like an overcoat that I forgot on the kitchen chair? Besides being horrifically uncomfortable, these days give me a greater and deeper access to myself. For me, they give me a chance to really see me, not as my head likes to tell me I am (all put together, a badass and hot) but as I truly am (broken, sad, confused, lost, hopeful). Days where all my nerve endings are on high alert give me a chance to watch myself very carefully and see exactly where I get triggered. These days are replete with opportunity too - when I am forced to endure the day sans skin, I am more sensitive and reactive which allows me to observe myself going through all kinds of shit. On my best skinless days, I laugh a lot because my heightened emotional state gives rise to all kinds of absurd bullshit and I know it. On my less than stellar skin-free days, I more likely resemble a bag lady on state street having an argument with no one but herself. I am there but totally not really there...and I am very, very upset about it.
In truth, being skinless would be fatal. If all my protective covering were to suddenly dissolve, I would most likely get an infection and be dead inside of a week. So my take away is that barriers are important. Also important are proper barriers. This is not a static thing. It is going to change. Sometimes I need a skin barrier and sometimes I need a Fort Knox kind of barrier. Sometimes for your protection, mostly for my own.
What my friend was really saying today is that she is in a heightened state which allows her access to all her feelings whether she wants to feel them or not. They are all at the surface and she is not able to escape them and neither are others that might have to deal with her today. Our conversation made me realize that if I have these days and she has these days, probably every other human out there walking around has these days. It occurred to me that I have never, not once, considered this as I went about my day. I walk out my front door expecting to run into fully skinned people but in reality what I am more likely viewing are a bunch of jangled nerve endings without cover or barrier to the harsh elements of daily living.
So to my most amazing skin-free friend of the day, Deya and to the hordes of others walking around out there today feelings on high alert, I say I see your skinlessness and I promise to do everything that I can not to cause further harm....but my degree of harm will be closely proportional to my own layer of covering. If I am having a teflon day, chances are you should probably avoid me. I won’t be worried or concerned about my own external coating so I will likely not be particularly respectful of yours. If I too, have no skin, I am likely going to be really upset about the fact that you are not acknowledging my transparency. So I pray that you catch me in the middle. Somewhere between Fort Knox and skinless...