I’m sure it started decades ago when I found myself literally surrounded by darkness while I hid terrified for my life in a closet. That phrase, “terrified for my life in a closet,” it still cuts me deep. My pessimistic past probably wouldn’t much care for my current seemingly outgoing nature. It’s funny how some people change over time.
Back then I was bound. Bound at first by the limitations pushed on me by adults, then by the voices of others who told me different was not okay. Then shackled by my own voice which always discolored the world with a dismal grey. It was the “it won’t work,” “you can’t,” “why bother,” voice that made me never even think of trying. Don’t get me wrong, I dreamed. I dreamed impossible dreams, but I told myself then that those dreams were not for me to know. I made mantras of those things to keep me safe because it was all I felt I deserved. It sounds pitiful, but it simply is.
I can’t recall how it presented itself or even a specific time. It’s more of a blanket feeling of anguish that aches to this day when I look back. Maybe it was just my somber nature. Or it could have been that swelling heat that started in my chest spreading across my face when the anxiety tried to overwhelm. I remember when it became apparent that something in me was more than a little not normal. Perhaps it was the fantasies that this life should not include me, partially because I had felt outside of, for so long. Outside of conversations, outside of activities, outside of what people called normal. That word, again. Then the fantasies began to eat into me at first by filling my chest and pressing outward. Cracking my ribs open while also caving in around my strangling heart. Oddly enough the pain, made me feel something and that was more than the nothing I had been filled with for so long. So I grasped at my shallow agonizing breaths, first out of curiosity, and then because it was all I had to hold onto.
It worsened around anniversaries. Empty days flowed into empty weeks where I would long to fill them but didn’t know how. Then the seasons changed around me and I found myself tired. Not just a physical exhaustion, but something much deeper, in my heart, in my soul. Interactions tore at me, they drained me and I didn’t yet understand how delicate I was around certain days. How around those times of the year I simply couldn’t deal with the world. I didn’t understand that some parts of me went back into that now metaphorical closet to hide until the coast was clear. I didn’t understand that other people sometimes took my absence personally. I never meant anything by it. I wasn’t intentionally neglecting them. I simply hid myself away until I could muster the energy to come back out when I was strong enough. Only, when I finally could come out, I found that many of the people I knew were angry with me because they didn’t understand. How could they when I didn’t? Many of my relationships were tested and most of them broke. I hurt in new ways because of a pain that I couldn’t make sense of or make go away. I was not a good friend to them because I was doing all I could to keep myself in one piece. If only they had known. If only I had understood myself better then.
But in the midst of my confusion and struggle to survive, I was blessed. Somehow I eventually stumbled upon a few who simply accepted me. They accepted me in my bright moments, in my stupid moments (which are most of my moments), and in spite of my need to sometimes be absent. Their acceptance, without explanations, without expectations, without pressure, it brought me something I didn’t realize I so desperately needed, Comfort. They brought me comfort knowing that if I needed them, they would be there. And that when I was ready to re-emerge, they would never act like I hadn’t been there all along. They do accept me flawed, they would accept me flawless, they simply take me as I am. We are some of the funniest, most sarcastic, strongest, driven, sleep deprived, depressive, and utterly exhausted human beings you may ever encounter. The truth is, I wouldn’t have survived without them.
After everything, I finally know, I am not alone. And that is all I ever really needed.
For my number 1 Hot Stuff, all my Bitches (on Earth and in Heaven) and Perrulli the Honorary Bitch.
P.S. Don’t make this weird. You’re welcome