Ever have those days when you feel so very alone and wonder if anyone aside from the people in your house think of you or would notice if you just quietly disappeared? Ever have those days when just the mere thought of something else going wrong is enough to bring you to tears? Ever have those days when you feel like throwing your hands in the air, dropping to your knees and screaming at the universe that you cannot take one. more. thing and to please, for the love of all that is good, stop testing you?
I have. A lot of them lately, to be honest.
The other day I was sitting on the couch, home alone for possibly the first time since school got out in June, when things just hit me. Like a sledgehammer to the side of my head, the weight of the world came crashing down around me and in that moment, I just how much more I outlooks be tested before I cracked. I felt raw and broken and empty, like there as just nothing left for me to give, either to myself or to anyone else. I was exhausted, in pain, and just so very, very sad.
I missed my dad, I missed the things that I could do before the injury took them all away from me, I missed the feeling of not being in pain. I missed myself.
As I often do when I need a pick me up, I started scrolling through pictures on my phone. Usually seeing the faces of the people that are most important to me helps snap me back to reality and reminds me to focus on the things that I have and not the things that I don’t. I found a picture that I took of the three of us, the weekend before school started. We had decided to take Q on a mini-holiday to Vancouver to go to Science World and see the dinosaur exhibit, and then spend the night at our favourite hotel. The next morning, I decided that I wanted a picture of us. Now, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, M hates getting his picture taken. I’m totally a picture person, so this has created a bit of a problem on occasion. He usually humors me, which I appreciate, and in turn, I try to keep the majority of the pictures I take of Q and myself. Fast forward back to the hotel, and after about what seemed like 20 tries to get a picture where everyone was looking the right way, no one had a stink face or bunny ears or a tongue stuck out, eyes open, that kind of thing, I got one. One.
As I looked at that picture, I was reminded of what is important to me. I also knew, however, that since they weren’t there, I needed to suck up my pride and reach out my hand, hoping that someone would notice it and grab it. I don’t like asking for help, my pride gets in the way too much, and I would rather help than be helped a lot of the time. Because of my injury, I feel like I need to ask for help a lot, so would much rather try to tough it out when at all possible. Sometimes, though, you need to put on your big girl pants, swallow your pride, and say “I need someone…”
I posted the photo to Facebook, noting that I felt, in that moment, like I was alone in the trenches, and was reminding myself what was important. Within minutes people started to respond. A friend, who I adore but haven’t had much of a chance to get to know really well but would like to asked if I could meet at the park to play and chat. I got a message from someone I used to be close with but haven’t been for years, letting me know that she was thinking of me. People reminded me that I was strong, and that whatever it was that was going on, they had my back.
I had reached out my hand and someone grabbed it, held it tight and said “you are not alone. None of us are alone.” I bawled.
In my quest to be more real, and cutting out a lot of the veneer and gloss that we put around ourselves to make it look like we have it all together and know what we are doing all the time, I’ve found that I’m a lot more relatable. Not that I have ever had a lot of gloss and polish, I’m a pretty what you see is what you get kind of girl but when I have allowed myself to be more vulnerable and say this is what is going on and this is what I need, I have been pleasantly surprised. In the age of social media, we want to out our best foot forward all the time. We want people to think that we have it all, do it all, and know it all. It is like a suit of armour that protects us and keeps us safe. Maybe it is my years spent in male dominated professions. Maybe it is the fact that I have always been a slightly rough around the edges, tomboy girl. Maybe I just don’t like feeling exposed, although really, who does? I’ve always looked at vulnerability in myself as a sign of weakness. I don’t like to to cry. I don’t want people to think that I am an attention whore or a drama queen. I’ve felt that if I could just tough through everything, things would be ok. Never in a million years would I look at someone else like that though. I see people who allow themselves to be vulnerable and know when to reach out as the strong ones, so why couldn’t I?
Today I saw a video promo trailer for The Bloggess Jenny Lawson’s new book Furiously Happy. It totally made me cry again and reminded again me that none of us are in this thing called life by ourselves. We don’t need to suffer in silence, alone and sad. It takes strength to be vulnerable and it takes strength to ask for help.
I allowed myself that moment of strength, of terrifying courage, and was rewarded deeply for it. Although I am still struggling, and feel sometimes like I am putting on a smile because the show must go on, I know that if I reach out my hand, someone will be there. It might not be the person you expect, but someone is always there. If you need someone to hold your hand, stretch it out and I will take it. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we walk this path together, and I deeply, from the bottom of my heart, thank those that reminded me.