So here it is, my raw, unfiltered, honest truth: I have felt isolated by rejection and have experienced love through forgiveness. I have been misled by expectations and had them restored with honesty. I have lived through crippling anxiety and had it dissolved with trust. It’s been raw, it’s been rough but it’s my truth.
I have a resurfacing personality that is hard, difficult and sharp. I say I “have” and not I “am” because I am a firm believer that what we do is not always who we are. We are all primal beings at the end of the day and if you’ve ever seen a scared dog, you know what I’m talking about. The way we handle adversity is to either curl up and become a hard rock; cowering away, letting people step and jump on us because we develop an outer shell hard enough to withstand that.
However, the problem with this method is that our shell ends up being so hard and impenetrable that we never soften up, allowing others inside. The other way in which we deal with adversity is to rise up on our hind legs, and scare the sh*t out of those we perceive as a threat. This method doesn’t work out too well either because we end up losing any semblance of being relatable and just like the first method, we end up alone.
I’ve learned that there’s a difference between being lonely and being alone. I like being alone but I hate being lonely.
Situations change us, people change us and time changes us. At one point in my life, the dialogue between me, myself and I within my head was loud enough and harsh enough that I decided I was living in a self-created hell and needed help.
I’ve been overly self-critical to the extreme, struggled with inaccurate understandings of myself both internally and externally and have felt isolation colder and lonelier that the feeling I got while watching Tom Hanks stranded by himself on that island in Castaway. Although I never resorted to befriending a volleyball, I did learn that my two biggest support systems were within my reach the entire time: my family and myself.
It’s a weird phenomenon when you say you “can’t stand yourself” because it almost implies that you have a subject-object relationship with yourself and the voice in your head is the subject and you (your physical being) are the object. There have been times when I couldn’t stand myself; the way I looked and the way I felt. These feelings usually came when sitting in a quiet hallway at school, eating lunch by myself or when I would be walking ten strides behind my “friends” because there wasn’t enough room for me on the sidewalk.
I grew up in a home that was immeasurably loving, forgiving and providing. However, I saw my external environment as a place where everyone belonged except for me. My home was my safe zone which is why I went six straight months in middle school without ever spending the night out or socializing with “friends” on the weekends. Though not by choice, every weekend during that time was spent with my family or at the barn with my horse and in retrospect, I was living my life according to the exact plan I was meant to follow.
As a result of the trials and tribulations that I’ve been dealt, I came to a certain understanding earlier in life than most do. I understood that I already had the superpower I always wanted: to love myself, to love being with myself, and to love knowing myself.
Though this understanding would often get lost in the wake of further rejection and loneliness, I think arriving at this understanding at such an early age was part of the reason why I felt so isolated from my peers. And it was made glaringly apparent that middle school, or high school for that matter, was not a place where “people like me” fit in.
One time in a 7th grade English class my teacher shared a quote by Dr. Suess that read “you have to be odd, to be number one” to which a classmate of mine leaned over and said “Sophie, you’re totally going to be number one.”
A compliment? Sure. A back handed one? Definitely.
One of the most soul-crushing experiences in life is when you experience rejection without reason. When you hear through the grapevine that you apparently said terrible things or did terrible things to people you love, yet you had zero awareness that you ever did any of it because the truth of the matter is that you never did do any of it because you were too busy putting your head down, sticking to yourself and trying to tread water without drowning.
It’s a deflating feeling having your closest friends turn their backs on you, even calling you to say they didn’t want to do this but “they can’t talk to you anymore” while you somberly erase your already frail mental-friend-count down to “2” instead of “3.”
I suppose my self-inflicted hell was a result of emotionally hurting myself before anyone else could inflict further hurt. The more you hurt a wound, the more scar tissue builds around it, making it harder and less susceptible to further hurt.
I must have built up a lot of scar tissue over the years because it’s taken me until this year to wear it down and open myself up.
Today, I feel freedom. I feel a warm, intense, enveloping feeling of love, acceptance and appreciation. I have an army of friends who I would go through every hurt and hard time all over again if I knew their love and acceptance would be waiting for me on the other end.
I no longer avoid looking at myself in the mirror, I no longer feel a dissociative urge to punish myself through harsh words and being mentally too hard on myself.
Instead of being covered in scars, I feel raw which is how and why I can share my raw truth: I was once rejected, but now I’m accepted, by me. And that has made all the difference.
Find your freedom,