I isolate myself so often. Too often.
Not necessarily because I like it, but because I need it.
I need it in this deep way that worries me.
I need it because it feels good to cut myself off from the world. In this isolated bubble, I can finally feel only myself. Only my own wants and needs, without any invasion or interruption from anyone else.
Maybe it sounds selfish, and maybe it is.
I don’t know for sure.
Sometimes, I even like how it hurts both to connect and to retreat. It feels like a no-win situation, which is so oddly seductive.
No matter what, I have my pain.
At least my precious pain is a familiar security blanket that I can hold close at night.
Even if it surreptitiously bites me as I slumber, I’m accustomed to its poison. I’m accustomed to the way my body almost craves and cries out for this toxic elixir, this sad medicine I seem to require.
It’s not okay.
To live like this, is not okay.
Sometimes, just the idea of seeing another person feels so terrifying. It immediately puts a knot in my stomach and a suffocating, pulsating lump in my throat. My body starts to tremble, on the inside first, and then my hands join in, quivering in time with my hummingbird fast heartbeat.
Why am I shaking?
Because I don’t want to feel vulnerable. Because I don’t want anyone to know me.
And, I really, really, really don’t want anyone to see my scars, my wounds, my weaknesses: these seemingly pathetic things I even try to hide from myself.
I just want to disappear. I want to teleport to some incredibly exotic island where no one can find me, where I can bask in turquoise waters and drink copious amounts of the most decadent pina coladas until the warm sun rises above me.
Being alone is a strange sort of comfort for me, and it really does feel magical sometimes. It’s this special place I retreat to when I’m feeling scared, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. When I feel too transparent, like a piece of gossamer cloth that can be easily ripped or torn and therefore seen through completely.
I can’t possibly let anyone perceive me like this, can I?
I don’t even want to look at these parts of myself.
But, today I am feeling adventurous and I want to see more, more than I’ve let myself see before.
Will you dive in with me?
If I get really, really painfully and brutally honest with myself and travel directly to the site of this deep, throbbing wound, I can feel part of why connection hurts:
It’s because I don’t like to compromise.
I don’t like to be flexible.
I want everything to be my way.
I want to be as free and independent as possible, even to my own (and others’) dismay.
F*ck, this hurts to see. I’m grimacing.
But, let’s see if we can dive even a little deeper still…
If I allow myself to go there, to that dark and silent chamber I usually keep locked, I see that I’m afraid of being taken advantage of. Being walked on. Being a perfect little doormat for someone to trample on with their big, dirty feet.
There is so much grief about this, in my body.
But, mostly in my heart.
My heart wonders why I have at times allowed others tell me how to live my life, who to be. It wonders how I could possibly abandon myself that much.
How can I forgive myself for this?
Until I’m able to accomplish the grand act of self-forgiveness, connection will hurt.
It’s this wound deep inside me that isn’t quite healed yet. The hemorrhaging has mostly stopped, but a few drops trickle from time to time. Usually, when I least expect it.
Sometimes I’m brave: I can reach out to others, and peel back my armor a little bit. But, sometimes I can’t.
And that is okay, too.
I’m not going to rush my recovery, because the only way to heal from feeling trampled and abused, is to take things slowly. Very, very slowly and tenderly. So slowly and tenderly that sometimes you forget you’re moving forward at all. But, you are.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Image: Jody McNary/Flickr