Last year I fell during an obstacle race and I ended up with a fractured tibia. For a while afterwards I hobbled around in a complicated brace that protected the injured part of my leg and I longed for something similar that I could velcro-strap on my insides, which were, frankly, falling apart. A cracked bone was nothing, just the cherry on the giant emotional shit sundae of early 2016. My life was crumbling and I could not keep it to myself: I had to talk about the pain or the pain would eat me alive.

So I wrote about what I was going through. I wrote publicly. I told my truth as best I could but the story was messy and revealing and I regret sharing it the way I did.

I can tell you from experience there are lots of reactions you’ll get if you decide to expose your yeesh-laden personal train wreck to the world. There will be kindness, support, and empathy. There will be people who tell you they don’t approve of the way you’re behaving. There will be people who tell you they don’t know what to say but you’re worrying them. There will be silent staring bystanders and you’ll probably never know what they were thinking. There will be people who sever ties. There will be carrion birds.

My life looks nothing like it did, for which I am deeply grateful. But sometimes things don’t heal perfectly. My knee isn’t like it was. My heart isn’t like it was. If I had social anxiety before, I have something different now, something that grips me like a vise. Just like that internal brace I once wished for.

I don’t reach out to people now. I did not try and repair those lost relationships, except for the one that was most important. On the rare occasion someone tries to connect with me, I shut them out. Aside from long-distance emails and calls, I don’t have friends. My family lives 339.4 miles away from me.

There are two stories I tell myself about this. One: I’m doing okay. I love my kids and my husband and I am an introvert who genuinely enjoys alone time. I have a new volunteer position that will involve plenty of human interaction and I have lots of things that keep me busy.

Two: I’m lonely. I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely.

Comments

52 Responses to “Airtight”

  1. Katie on May 24th, 2017 7:51 am

    Oh I’m so very sorry……We recently moved and I couldn’t WAIT to get away from some people that I couldn’t shake. MOved across the country and loved having no friends for a LONG time. like 9 months or more. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t loving it. I felt isolated. I am perfectly happy with my husband and kids and online FB connections with old friends and occasional texts/emails from old friends. But…i guess that isn’t really enough for us humans, even though it seems easier that way. I decided my “word” for 2017 was “Connect” (Instead of a new year’s resolution…just a word to consider throughout the year.) It has helped a lot. I’m venturing out more. Asking people (new people I don’t know!) to meet me for lunch, or to meet me and my kids at a park with their kids. Its been kind of awkward, but I’m hoping this will lead to connections. i’m just worried it will be a connection I will want severed later (see also: wanted to move to avoid people!) Ah. So difficult. I think its brave you shared your life and people who don’t get it–you’re better off without them. Find some new people. Find a new tribe of truth tellers who accept you. Easier said than done….but maybe you could find a word or phrase to focus on. Like “truth tellers.” Or “Non-judgers.” Those are the best people. I’m still looking for mine!

  2. Bec on May 25th, 2017 9:00 am

    I hear you. We’re coming up on a year since we moved halfway across the country, back to the hometown where I grew up. Much less stress in my work, a tiny commute, better schools for the kids, and theoretically a community in friends I’ve known since I was in preschool and family. But the last few months have been hitting me hard. I miss my life. I miss the people who were our family in our old hometown. I miss our house, our shops, our rhythm. I’m lonely too.

    And I don’t “know” you other than e-mails sent years back and what I’ve read here, but I want you to know that I admire you. Your words help me realize I’m not all alone in this. You are brave, even in the broken spots. Especially in the broken spots. Thank you.

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