(Edit 12/13: it took me almost a week to write this post, and another five days to decide if I wanted to share it with anyone. My main concern is that people who know part of what happened in August will read this purely to satisfy their curiosity. If that was your goal, I’m sorry. I won’t be publishing or answering questions about specifics, and I will delete any comments that I feel are too invasive, including any that mention names.
The social media age is odd; I feel that I need to address that this happened to me rather than sweeping it under the rug and continuing to post happy little pieces about running. That approach just doesn’t feel right or genuine to me as a human. However, I also feel that I need to respect the privacy of the other people involved in what happened, so I trust you will too. Thank you.)
This is a post I have been trying to write for a long time.
But every time I sit down to write it, something holds me back.
I guess that something is probably fear: fear of rejection, fear of retaliation, fear of appearing weak, fear that the people who personally know me will read this and think less of me.
Yes. I’m scared.
But here’s the thing: I’m also tired of being scared. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of deleting my social media accounts because I don’t want people to know what’s going on with me. I’m tired of staying home on the weekends because I’m afraid I’ll see someone I know. I’m tired of making excuses to explain why I didn’t answer a text or a message. I’m tired of holding this fear inside of me, and letting it slowly sap all my energy and strength.
I’m tired of this fear, and I think it’s time to let it go.
Last year, something bad happened to me. It does not matter what it was. That bad thing left me broken. Battered. Alone. Feeling unable to trust many of the people I’d considered to be my closest friends.
I worked through it, somewhat. I made changes. I got a new job, I moved somewhere I felt safe, I started dating a great, supportive guy. I ran a half marathon. I pushed myself to recover, harder and harder, until I felt like I could breathe again. Until I felt like I’d found some version of peace.
A few weeks before my 25th birthday, that fragile peace was shattered. The original “something bad” turned into something unimaginable. Unthinkable. Unreal.
If you have never experienced grief, I cannot explain to you what the last few months have been like. If you have never grieved for someone who hurt you profoundly, you will understand even less. It’s a tricky situation; it resists explanation. But I will try, for the sake of telling the truth.
It sounds cliché, but the day that it happened, my life splintered. Just like that. There was “before” and “after”. Before I sat at work stressing about a marketing meeting I had to run that afternoon. After I couldn’t believe how much I cared about something that now seemed so trivial.
It felt like something shifted in my very foundation that day: not enough to knock the house down, not enough to notice with the naked eye, but enough that it sways in a hard wind. Enough that it’s no longer safe to inhabit.
My mood began to swing bizarrely. Some days I was manic, accomplishing my whole to-do list before 10am, dancing in my room, cooking myself a three course meal. Other days I didn’t leave my bed, unless it was to go to work, where I was unproductive, listlessly staring at my computer screen.
Sometimes I am still intensely, acutely afraid to be alone, and I cry like a little kid when my long-distance boyfriend has to leave me. Other times I want nothing more than to lie alone in the dark with a lit screen.
I’ve lost interest in many of the things that used to drive my day to day. I rarely run. I don’t really care about politics. I haven’t seen most of my friends in months.
I feel like I’m living a double life. I paint on my face in the morning; put on my makeup, force myself to smile, answer that I’m “doing fine, thanks!” even when I am sad, tired, depressed, feeling the crushing weight of the guilt that is present during every one of my waking hours and many of my sleeping ones. It’s a relief to be alone, to remove the mask.
Because you know what? It’s exhausting to wear that mask. It’s SO exhausting. And for someone who has always striven to live authentically, it’s also deeply uncomfortable. For someone who values truth above almost all else, it’s downright debilitating.
I have struggled to figure out how to navigate this. My first instinct was to retreat; to stop posting, updating, sharing, cease all communication with almost everyone I care about.
But unfortunately, that wasn’t and isn’t sustainable. I can’t hide forever and I’ve found that I don’t want to. I also don’t want to have to follow some completely arbitrary rules anymore about what I’m “allowed” to feel and do. I’m allowed to be happy, and I’m allowed to be sad. I’m allowed to be angry and frustrated, and I’m also allowed to be hopeful. I’m allowed to feel all of these feelings, sometimes all at once, and I am not obligated to hide them or apologize for them.
I’m also not obligated to pretend that I’m doing fine.
Here’s the truth: I’m not doing fine. I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable but…I’m actually not.
Because this guilt that I have, the pain, the grief that I feel…you may think these things make me weak, but in reality, they make me human. Sitting with them, refusing to dilute them with alcohol or pharmaceuticals, makes me brave. Choosing to believe that there is a distant day where I am ok – where I have found peace, despite my lingering sadness – makes me resilient.
Writing this post, telling my story, makes me free.
And while I don’t know if sharing this will make me feel better, I do know it will make me feel more honest. I know it will make me feel more brave. I know it will make me feel more human. And if that can help even one other person do the same, then it’s as good a place as any to start.