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.