I see you. There are so many of you, everywhere. I see you when I get off the bus and I pass you on the sidewalk. I see you at school pickup and I see you in the church pews. I see you as you check out my groceries and as I eat dinner across the room from you. There is a look in your eyes that I know was once in mine, and I wish it was socially acceptable to walk over and to tell you that I know what it’s like.
For I remember well the darkest days of my own life’s journey, days when the sun went down at night with red lines on my arms. I think about my husband’s “dark night of the soul” long ago and how he Googled ways to end it all. They say life is short, but for some of us it seems far too long.
Maybe that’s you?
You’re lonely and hurting, aching and throbbing with the wounds of not belonging. You’re both too much and not enough for the circles you intersect with. You’re family-less. You’re different. You sit on the margins of society and peer in. You don’t know why you can’t just be like everyone else, why you can’t will yourself to become more palatable. Your square edges don’t stand a chance of sliding into all the damned round holes that surround you, and day to day you waver between giving it all the finger or dropping to your knees begging to be let in.
You find ways to escape it for awhile. In drink or in sex or in micromanaging or in eating or not eating, or in any number of other ways we’re so good at medicating the pain of our otherness. But it’s never enough. Of course it’s not, and some days you think about how good it would feel to just slip away into the Nothing.
I know there is nothing some stranger on the Internet can say that will heal all the wounds or wrong all the rights. But I’m going to say some things to you anyway; things that probably won’t change your life but will be true nonetheless, because sometimes truth has to be spoken regardless of the likelihood of its being believed.
You are a gift. You see things that others don’t, and we need your vision. You see the injustices of the world and maybe right now it feels like they’re breaking you. But one day, indeed, you will break them. The very places where society has failed you are the places that you’ll have the chance to rebuild, brick by brick. You have the unique perspective to be an advocate, and when you emerge from this haze, you will be a tiger defending the defenseless. It’s in you.
You are not alone. Sounds like the cruelest of lies, doesn’t it? But it’s just the opposite. Do you remember in Harry Potter, how Luna told Harry that if she were Voldemort she would try to isolate him, because on his own he wouldn’t be much of a threat? Hate and despair dwell in isolation. There are people with whom you can be stronger together, with whom you can link arms to push back the darkness. Find your people. They might be in a support group of others who share much in common with you, or you might stumble upon them in an unlikely place you never would have thought to look. Find them, whatever it takes. Push back the lie that you don’t belong, because you do. You have much to give.
Help is out there. I know what it’s like to doubt that counseling will do any good, or to think that you can sort it out on your own. But the truth is sometimes we need a fresh pair of eyes (with a lot of experience to boot!) to look at our hearts and situations and give us some new perspective and new tools. A good counselor can help you turn your life around. If you’re willing to take the chance on being vulnerable, you won’t regret it. We weren’t made to travel this life alone. We all need help along the way.
I can’t say for sure how your story will end if you hang on here. But I believe that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in our world, and I believe they exist for you. Please don’t give up; your presence here is a gift. You are a part of us, and we are all the better for your being among us. I hope that one day you can believe it.