This is the screwed up person’s version of the timeless game of “Hide and Seek.” See, with “hide and seek,” you KNOW someone is going to come looking for you. They want to find you. And they will search relentlessly, looking in the most improbable places until they find you. That’s how the game is played. Discovery is the ultimate goal. Hiding is part of the fun and it’s all in fun. You want to remain hidden the longest, but you don’t want to hide so well that you are never found. The mad dash for home base after you have been discovered is part of the excitement you look forward too. It’s a thrilling moment when you’re finally out in the open racing for home while trying to avoid being tagged!!
With Hide and Wait, the ultimate goal is to remain hidden…forever. Discovery is failure and there is nothing fun about it. And no one is going to try too hard to find you since “finding” is not really what the game is all about. It’s about keeping distance. About not discovering much of anything about the person you are talking to and not letting them discover much about you. Keeping it shallow. Keeping it light. Keeping it safe.
If you are the hider (which is most often my role), one tactic that is particularly effective is to get the other person talking about themselves. This accomplishes a couple of goals. One: You can easily hide because all you have to do is sit back and listen, asking an occasional question to keep the dialogue going. Two: Other people think you are interesting. More importantly, they think you are NORMAL. This is ultimately what the game is all about for the hider; appearing normal. Because when you are the hider, you are decidedly NOT normal. You’re hiding for a reason.
My reason is that I was abused as a child and it did a lot of damage. I’m different. I’m damaged. I’m broken. I’m also a little shy and introverted, which doesn’t help. And then, there’s this eating disorder thing that I battle daily. (Can you believe how much of our social interactions revolve around FOOD!??). It’s rather awkward to excuse yourself from the table after eating so you can go throw it all up. I’m also divorced and don’t have any children (or, gasp, grandchildren, as is common among my friends now), so I don’t have any of the common connectors that most others have. As a result of all of this past “yuck,” I don’t want people to know exactly how messed up and lonely I am. Therefore, I try very hard to keep all that “garbage” hidden away inside of me. I hide and wait until the conversation is finished, then critique myself afterward to determine how good of a job I’ve done at hiding. I sigh a big sigh of relief if I’ve managed to keep it all fairly well camouflaged. I kick myself a hundred times if I know they caught a glimpse of my mess. In which case, I figure they won’t want to talk to me ever again. Which makes me feel more lonely and more like a freak.
You see, when you play hide and wait, you’re playing because you’re a messed up lonely person who craves a little human interaction. But you know if they see the real you, they will flee, screaming as they go, because you are so horrid! So you hide all the “ickiness” away in hopes of getting a little touch, albeit a shallow, insignificant one, from another person. Then you pretend it was enough to get you by until the next time.
On the other side of the proverbial coin, they don’t really WANT to know (me) the hider. They don’t want to go deep. They DO want to talk about themselves because they find themselves to be endlessly fascinating (and they are, in most cases, very nice and interesting people). So they aren’t really seeking. In that sense, they are hiding too. They have stories they tell about themselves, but they are very light and amusing and…shallow. What I’ve found in my experience is, most people only need fairly shallow interaction. Those deep connections are not something they crave the way I do. So not only am I hiding myself away to avoid discovery, my heart is longing for something the other person is ill-equipped to give. It’s a stupid game, truly.
I’ve been a master hider. Used to be astoundingly good at it. Then I ran out of energy and tenacity. More often these days, I find myself hiding by isolating. Social interactions are torture…just can’t seem to muster. Can’t even pretend to be normal. I’ve become more and more awkward, more odd, more filled with raw sewage (the smell is difficult to disguise!). The side-effect of isolation is that you become even worse at interrelating as time goes on because you’re so out of practice. Isolation does icky things to a person. Psychologically, you become less fit and less capable of relating normally because you are broken down piece by piece by piece until there’s not much left. When you’re broken to begin with and you are being worn down through self-imposed isolation, the end result is dust. That’s what happens to your heart and soul. If you’re fortunate, the mind survives, but survival isn’t the exciting option it’s made out to be. Survival is just that…barely surviving…alive, but not so much. Which provides you with even more garbage to hide! Yippee!
The most scary thing about the game of hide and wait: it’s not really a game. It’s deadly serious. And losing is not an option. Losing means exposure; it means you’re found out, rejected, labeled, avoided, judged. There is no “Olly, Olly, Oxen Free (all in free).” You’re a freak and people know it. And being an “it” really sucks.