We all long, deep inside, for a place of safety. That sensation of coming in from the cold, closing the door behind us, and knowing we are safe, loved, and okay. There are different layers of safety in this world. There is physical safety, which is first and foremost, because if we aren't fed and clothed and don't have a roof over our heads to protect us from the fickle nature of the weather, the rest of our safety needs don't matter very much. We can be physically safe and cared for, but miss out on emotional and psychological safety and acceptance.
There is a need inside of all of us to be seen and validated for who we are. In the parenting course I'm attending, it's called "an invitation to exist." I love that phrase. So simple and so very beautiful, and it holds the key to feeling safe with other people in a psychological way. If you matter to someone, and you belong with them, and are accepted by them, you will feel safe to be yourself without playing a role.
Pretending can get you far in your relationships, but at a certain point you realize you are exhausted, and you see that you've never actually been brave enough to expose other people to the person you genuinely are. You fear that you won't be considered acceptable to others if you show your true face (in fact, it can be challenging to even know what that true person looks like because he or she has been so carefully hidden for so long) and therefore you hide yourself away, so far down that no one can access you.
It's always a risk to come out of pretending and deal in the real you. Being rejected when you are playing a part is a hell of a lot easier than being rejected for who you really are. But the rewards of being your true self in all situations are incredible: instead of putting your energy into figuring out what someone else wants from you and delivering it, you are simply who you are, making your own decisions for your own reasons, and the other person has to decide if they accept you or they don't. All of the games and the stress and the anxiety you used to experience simply fades away, and eventually ceases to matter.
Your circles may shrink, and you will most definitely lose some people you once believed to be very important to you. Some of this may be temporary. Some of it may be forever. There is a shifting of all roles when you change your side of the interaction. It's uncomfortable and difficult and many mistakes will be made. But if you persevere, and believe in yourself, and hold the real as more important than the fake, when the storm is over there will be a rainbow, and a promise to never return to the old way of doing things, and the belief that everything will work out in time.
Not being tied to the consequences and outcomes of every situation is a good way to free yourself from the expectations of others. You are responsible for yourself, and not for other people. If we all had those boundaries and lived within them, we would hurt each other less, and the world would be a happier place to be. We all want to be invited to exist in each other's presence. Some people may not be ready for that, and it's okay, but we have to find ways to let ourselves out into the light, and find a handful of people who will accept us as we really are.