Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scarred and Alone

In life there is pain. In life there are struggles. In life there is immense sorrow. I am not going to sit here and blow smoke and tell you life is all about rainbows and unicorn farts. Obviously that is not the case. But there is beauty. There is love. There is acceptance, hopes and dreams. Life is hard but it is everything that we have. It is in fact all that we have. This life and what we choose to do with it.

We are all afraid of something. We are all scarred and broken in places. There are tiny cracks in our swords. Small chips in our in our chain mail. Chinks in our armor. Places where life has thrown something at us that we deflected but not quickly enough to avoid all damage. We have splinters and they fester. We are the walking wounded each and everyone of us.

We all at some, point have felt alone. In today's world having mental illness is deemed as being unworthy, unemployable, and unsafe. Mental illness is a now dirty word and all of us diagnosed with one are looked upon as being somehow less of an individual. We are thought to be overacting, attention seeking, and over dramatic. We are seen as the cause of our own issues.

The result is people being untruthful with us. Walking on eggshells or not walking with us at all. Avoidance and secrets are not helpful and if anything it makes us feel even more alone. We feel alone always. Even if placed in a crowded room full of family and friends. There is always a feeling of difference between us and them that makes it hard to feel like part of the crowd. Especially, if we have self esteem issues or are awkward in our movements, speech patterns, and thought processes.

Imagine being at a pool party with everyone you know. Everyone is dancing and swimming around in their swim suits and having an amazing time. You want to join in but under your clothes you have long, deep, red scars that you feel embarrassed about. You feel ugly. You feel unacceptable. You feel like you are hiding something. And so instead of being there to have a good time and socialize you sit in the back and watch others with all of your clothes on even though it's hot. Even though your sweaty. You are too afraid of what other people will say if they see your scars. If they see the real you. You miss out and even though you know these people are your friends they have no idea who the real you is. The complicated you. The scarred you in all it's glory. The you that is not just a pretty face or a silly smile.  They don't know your secrets or your feelings on the matter. They only know what is easy for them to process. And so you sit out because you always sit out.  You do not reveal the real you.

Are you in a crowded place? Yes, but you still feel so very alone. Imagine this being everyday of your life only the pool party is the office or your dinner table. Your clothes hide no scars but your smiles do. Your scars are inside your mind. There are broken bits in your soul. You can be with the people you love the most and yet you feel totally lost and alone. They are not like you. They are not scarred in the way you are.

When we are honest we tend run across four types of people. The first is the fair weather friend. They avoid and walk away. Let them go. Grieve the loss and walk away with your head held high. They are not worth the time and effort. Do you deserve half assed friends with half assed attempts to support you or understand your pain? No, you deserve the kind of friends that are there for you like you are there for them. If they don't make the grade cut them away like the cancer they are. No one needs fair weather friends.No one.

The second group is a little more complicated. They are the egg shell walkers. They are aware of your issues and are unsure of how to proceed around you. They don't want to bother you with stress or issues that may rise. They fail to include you in decision making. They try to make everything seem perfectly fine when in truth the walls of your life are on fire and falling down around you. Now, these people are not like the fair weather friends. These people care and want to be there for you but they are misguided into believing that somehow your mental illness has turned you into a child incapable of dealing with life and all it holds with in. These people just need to be educated and you can do that by simply sitting them down and explaining it to them. They may have to be monitored and reminded from time to time that they are falling back into old habits. We have mental illness, we are not stupid, ignorant, and most of us can take the truth as it is given to us. After all don't you think we know what we can and can't handle better than you? I mean we tend to be more familiar with truth than the average person.

The third type is the dearly loved ones that are the bad advice givers. Ugh God, really these ideas are so crazy sometimes I wonder who the one with mental illness is. These people love you. They want to make it better but since they have never been mentally ill they give you advice like you have never experienced mental illness either. Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing, seriously. They have no idea that their advice is ridiculous and obvious. As if something simple is something we had not thought of before and that doing it will automatically make us well. They try and although their advice can be slightly insulting and laughable with sarcasm, at least they have decided to help the best way they know how. You can either try to educate them, warning these types tend not to understand what you are broadcasting, or you can let it go and just feel good that they love you enough to keep trying. They are practical and offer only practical advice. As mental illness sufferers our minds might be practical but our emotions are anything but. Telling me that my fear of germs is irrational because we have millions of bacteria on our bodies and they are helpful, doesn't make me any less scared of germs. If anything I feel like I now have to wash myself with bleach and a s.o.s. pad. I do appreciate that you love me enough to give me your time and advice.

The fourth type is what I affectionately call the crazy cousin. It is as if mental illness and bizarre circumstances had children and they are a product of that weird dysfunctional relationship. They either suffer from mental illness or have had so many in their family that they get you in a way that no one else does. They can be relatives, internet friends, coworkers, or neighbors. These people are the kind that would wake up at three a.m. to discuss why you should not be afraid that you have accidentally poisoned yourself by the shampoo dripping into your eyes. They are the people that will drive through a foot of snow to come over and have tea with you when you are lonely. They are the kind that would send you an email from work just to check up on you. They make it possible to laugh at not only how screwed up you are but how screwed up they are in turn. They support you wholeheartedly. They are there for you at your best and there to hold your hand at your worst. They are crazy. They are beautiful and if you find one of these do not take them for granted. They make it possible to go to a pool party and take off your shirt and swim because they are equally scarred and they will dive head first in with you. They don't care how scarred you are they love you not just in spite of them but because of them.

So whether you have fair weather friends, egg shell walkers, bad advice givers, or crazy cousins there is no reason to feel lonely. I can assure you are not alone. There are so many of us that suffer. So many of us that are scared to reveal our true selves. We have no reason to be ashamed of our scars. We have no reason to hide in the back of the room and not participate. We are not alone. You are not alone.