I wrote this as a reminder that strength doesn’t always look strong. Sometimes vulnerability is courage, giving up is succeeding, breaking down is progress, not getting what you want is what you need, standing still is moving forward…
To everyone out there who is trying to ‘stay strong’, may you have the courage to give yourself what you need, regardless of what it looks like to other people ❤️
Over the last few years, I’ve gone into social hibernation. I’ve shied away from meeting new people, I’ve let relationships lapse. I felt hopelessly lost, and if you don’t know yourself, it’s hard to figure out how to relate to other people. I thought it’d be difficult for people to accept my ‘weirdness’, but it turns out that the one who couldn’t accept me was…myself. I felt constantly judged…because I was judging myself.
I felt like it would be too difficult to explain why I spent so long in the washroom (repeated handwashing), or why I was always late (repeated checking of windows, doors, locks and electric sockets before leaving the house + starting to get ready late because leaving the house felt like too big a task), or why I repeatedly checked the seat I’d just vacated for anything I might’ve left behind, or why I kept checking the zips on my bag, or that I didn’t like to walk close to bins. (But look, I just explained it in less than 100 words!)
I felt like I was an inconvenience and I couldn’t expect people to understand, because I myself didn’t understand. But I’ve come to realise that no matter what we are facing, social isolation makes it worse. People need people. I certainly do. Now that I’ve started to open up, people are being more supportive than I could have ever imagined. I find myself wondering why I thought I had to keep all my struggles a secret. Feeling alone only amplified my despair. Admitting my ‘weakness’ to my friends and family helped me see that it isn’t weakness at all, just the way I’ve been wonderfully made.
I wasn’t getting the help and support I needed, not because people didn’t want to give it, but because they didn’t know what I needed. Because I didn’t know. Once I became better at articulating what I needed, love was there to give it.
In order to feel accepted, I had to first accept myself. In order to feel loved, I had to first love myself. And now that I do, I’ve been reconnecting with old friends. It’s been joyful. And when I experience intense emotion, I write. This poem celebrates love rediscovered; love that was always there.