A constant state
I do not consider myself to be a reclusive person, but I have a hard time feeling connected with others. I am an ambivert, so I feel energetic whether I am among friends and family or tucked away by myself. Despite this, I still find myself feeling lonely. Among my loved ones, there is a flicker of fear that my own feelings are not reciprocate, or that their feelings are pretentious. When I am alone near groups of others, I envy the connections they have. Their families are closer than mine. Their partners show more passion. Their friends seem closer than I am with mine. I attempt to replicate these behaviors in my own life, but it only serves to make me more isolated. If it doesn't work, I feel like I failed to please them. If it does, I feel like they only care about this false version of me. When I force myself to stop and think, I realize that I only feel alone because I am too afraid to belong to someone, whether romantically or not. I do not trust that I am worth loving. I self-sabotage without realizing, and wake up knowing that everyone I had has left. That's the way it's always been. Lately, I've felt close to more people than ever before. I'm starting to believe that I am really loved, and the isolated feeling I've always had is slowly fading away. But the fear of loneliness lays just behind my waking thoughts, and I worry it may come to claim me again one day.
The Unwanted Ring
My parents were young when they got married. I'm told that it was rushed. No ceremony, no extravagant gifts, no gowns or suits to be worn. They had instead decided to put that money aside for the child they were expecting- me. I was the inspiration for their promise. Every broken word they spoke to each other, every fight they endured, and every day they spent hating each other. Whether they had planned to or not, they had bound their lives together. They spent years sharing a roof, sharing a room. Their passion for each other always ran deep, but as I grew, I watched it turn from a desperate love to a burning mutual hate.
I was young when my parents got divorced. It meant nothing to me in the moment, but it changed my life in ways I am still discovering. I have had no real example of love- what it looks like, how it feels, how to express it, how to receive it. These are all foreign concepts to me. But I am glad they are apart. It helps me realize that they did not love each other, just the idea of belonging to someone. From the moment they split, my mom has tried to purge his existence from her life. Old belongings were sold or gifted to friends and family. Among all of their items, I received my mom's unwanted wedding ring. It has a dull gold band, and two curved rows of gems around either side of the center. The outer row, like the center, is a pale white diamond. The inner rows are sapphire. The ring has long since lost its shine, much like their companionship had lost its luster.
Several years later, this piece of my story showed up once more. It was found in an old moving box that had never been unpacked. I sat there for a while, watching the light reflect off of its many surfaces, and I thought about my history. I was made from two people who had never really loved each other. Expectations brought them together, and obligation kept them together. I set the ring down on my nightstand, thankful that I have not found myself in the same situation. It may be my history, but it does not define me.
My Sister’s Sunrise
Although the hours are dark and late, I find myself still laying awake. I think about the life I've lived, the people I love, and my moments with them. I collect these memories in little bottles. The feelings dance and the spirit sings in each treasured vial. Today my favorite is my sister's sunrise. The lavender water has such a gentle glow. Flecks of silver weave through the waves, and a feeling of peace settles against the seal. With a sweet waft of nostalgia, I put the bottle to my lips.
I close my eyes, and I am taken back to the back porch of our father's house. The gentle nip of the early spring air, the cold metal of the lawn chair against my legs, and the feeling of knowing that somebody else is there with me. Not a word passes between us as we sit there, but we have never been more connected.
The nights are worse for her. Uneasy feelings creep into her mind. They look around and settle, and they make themselves comfortable. Her thoughts eat away at her, and she cannot be alone. Her eyes refuse to let her rest. Our world changed drastically in such a short time, and so, for tonight, I offered to sit with her in the dark.
We sat on that porch, exchanging memories and emotions. Her hands calm their trembling, and her breathing slows. Her mind seems to grow quiet. Hours pass, and the morning sun breaks through the horizon. The grass gleams, and the critters greet the new day with their songs. The warmth of the sun starts to graze our skin, and we laugh at the time we just shared.
Although little had happened that day, I find peace knowing I could offer her such solace. When her nights start to feel long once again, I will be there. She knows now that, despite this changing world, she is not alone.
I wish I could tell you that you're going to survive this, but I know you wouldn't believe me. I've been there, on that grassy ledge on the edge of the world. You know that you're still standing, but any move you make threatens to send you down into the chasm below. You can hear the water rushing against the rocks, and consider taking the dive. Your mind is racing, and you wonder how you wound up here in the first place.
At first it seemed like a good idea. You felt safe and secure as your feet brushed the ground beneath you. You climbed higher and drew on farther, eyes bright and mind chiming with hope and excitement. But the further you climbed, the more dangerous it got. The ground behind you crumbled before your eyes, and you were powerless to stop it. And now you stand at the top of the ledge, with nowhere left to go but down. You know you have to take that step, but your body is frozen in fear.
You cannot make this jump by yourself.
You cannot leave the world you knew, or the people you loved.
You cannot see yourself on the other side of this.
But I promise, you will make it. One day, you will feel like yourself again. One day, you will laugh and smile the way you used to. You will feel safe. You will feel loved, and you will learn to love. If you fall, I will catch you. If you need a push, I've got your back. I know how it feels to watch everything fall apart. I know how it feels to stand on the edge of the world. But I promise you, this is not a dead end.
Growing up, my family didn't celebrate birthdays. There weren't any cakes or gifts. I never got any parties, or even family visits. I missed every age based milestone that I was taught to expect from television. When I turned 16, I didn't get to drive. When I turned 18, I was kicked out of my home. When I turned 21, I didn't drink. I've always lived my life in the same way. I didn't look forward to the years to come, and I don't miss the years that have passed. My age means very little to me, it really is just a number. I understand the holiday is important to people, and it can bring in a much needed morale boost. But to me, it's just another day. I don't want to count the years and think about what I've lost or what I've yet to gain. Instead, I keep living day-to-day, doing what I can to form a life I love.
P.S. You can't have a bad birthday if you don't have a birthday.
Why do spiders build webs?
Spiders didn't always build webs. They used to live under leaves or piles of twigs. But one spider in particular was not content with her home. She wanted a safe path to see the world. Every time she tried to step outside, her feet would be blown out from under her. "I need something sticky to secure me," she thought. She stuck sap to her legs and began her journey across a narrow piece of bark. However, not far from her home, the wood gave way under her and she tumbled to the ground. Unharmed and undeterred, she turned back the way she came and starting planning once more."I need something more sturdy," she said. As she crawled back into her home, she remembered the silk that mother spiders use to protect their young. "It's sticky enough to stay put, and sturdy enough to hold the eggs." She began to gently weave her own silk, and lay it out in front of her. After many days of work, she had developed several delicate paths that she could venture with ease. The spider could travel wherever she wanted, and she could always rely on the strings to keep her safe and lead her back home.
My mother taught me how to breathe.
It may seem like a simple thing. So trivial, in fact, that we all do it constantly without ever giving it another thought. Thousands of times each day, we cycle the air through our lungs. But sometimes, our emotions overwhelm us, and we find ourselves suffocating. When you're crippled by your own tears, or blindsided by pain and fear, you forget how to do the very thing you need. No matter how uncontrollable the world feels, just pause for a moment, close your eyes, and breathe.
I am anxious
I am happy.
For the first time in my life, I am genuinely happy. Not for a second, not for a breath, but a genuine, persistent happiness. Things are going well, and yet . . .
I find myself worrying. Every moment is spent on the edge of my seat, with a shaking body and bated breath. When will things go wrong? What could happen that will send it all downhill? Do I deserve these positive feelings?
I am anxious. I am afraid. One day, my entire world could start falling apart.
But for now, for today, I am happy.