Talking about Healing: Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.Ephesians 4:29

“Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?” by John Powell (Niles, IL: Argus Communications, 1969) is one of my favorite books.

Powell suggests that people are afraid to tell you who they REALLY are because you may not like them, thus, we reveal ourselves in “levels” or stages: According to him.

The lowest level is cliché.

“Hi, how are you?” “Whazzup?” When you met that special someone, did you really care who he or she was or was it because you had a hidden agenda and maybe did not even know it? Did that first conversation sound something like this? Do you come here often? So you’re a whiskey sour lady, let me buy you a drink. ‘I thought you was somebody else’.

This level is safe. There is no sharing of the human experience. You do not know anything about me and I don’t know anything about you. What you don’t know is she might be going through a heated divorce. He could have just got out of prison for armed robbery.

The second level is

reporting about others.

I call this level gossip. Talking loud and saying nothing. For instance, she might say ‘I heard Ann sells some good meth’. He might say ‘I know a guy who sells his cheaper.

On this level, they still do not know anything about each other. He did not give any real information about himself and neither did she. They just talked about someone else. All he knows is she knows a drug dealer. All she knows is he knows a different drug dealer.

The third level is judgment.

This is were things start to get risky. On this level, they try to get to know each other. She might say something then listen and watch for a reaction. If it seems like he did not like what was said, she might apologize and say, ‘I did not mean it,’ change the subject or tell him what she thinks he wants to hear so he does not abandon her emotionally.

The fourth level is gut level.

On this level, communication gets personal because the individual person is revealed. This level of communication requires two things in order to happen. You have to tell a person how you feel and how you think. In dysfunctional relationships communication on this level happens by accident, through anger or not at all until there is a crisis. Drugs and alcohol numb your feelings and cloud your thinking so there is never any real sharing of the person. Hence, the expression frozen feeling. The addiction makes a person try to skip this level and go straight to peak experience…getting high so they do not feel or think at all.

The highest level is PEAK.

This is never permanent. Addicts and alcoholic try to make it permanent by using. Here, life feels great and there’s not a care in the world. The addiction makes people believe this is reality when it is a delusion based on frozen or hidden feelings.

Open communication in recovery help to reveal that some of the choices were not really choices. They were situation where both people were emotional hostages. One day at a time, you can come to terms with the fact that the hidden agenda was about abandonment, insecurity and making poor decisions to numb the reality of the emotional pain drugs and alcohol cover. Remember that in God’s, own time your change will come.