I have lived somewhat of a mystery. Part of me feels as if I have gone through much of my life acting accordingly. By which I mean that I have not always felt emotions or held beliefs with the same confidence as I believed others to have done and often times would behave as I thought I was meant to behave. For years I was unsure of how I was supposed to act as if there were some sort of template that could guide me to the correct end. My confusion seemed to know no bounds and to many people that know me personally, this may sound a little far-fetched. Or perhaps it will seem spot on – what do I know of what other people think?!
Often times I look back on my past to try and figure out who I was. I think that in many ways I was pretending to be somebody that I believed people would respect and admire. Much of my 20’s seem to go unaccounted for – not in terms of my memory but rather in terms of what I was feeling. It is difficult for me to believe much of what I was selling to people, though during that time I believed myself to be selling a true version of myself.
But when I look back with clarity I realize that so much of my identity was a lie. If one paid close attention it would become very noticeable; my actions did not support my claims of love, passion, excitement, friendship, etcetera. It is difficult for me to say if I have ever truly loved the way I once told people I had. If I were put on the spot and ordered to name the things to support my claims I could not, then or at the present. I don’t believe I was capable of the type of love I see other people display towards one another, simply because I had never loved myself. It is important to say that nobody could have done anything differently to strengthen my emotions, I simply didn’t know what it meant to be in love with somebody. But I wanted to be. I wanted so badly to be seen as others were seen. I wanted to be somebody to depend on and I wanted to feel that longing that other people spoke of – but I didn’t.
One thing I believe to be true however is that I have always been a good judge of character in others. I saw something in other people that I knew I wanted to be a part of, and I had hoped that it would bring me happiness. But I never found that happiness, it never wore off on me. I behaved much the same way in my friendships, which can be a more forgiving relationship. Essentially, I had become a person that nobody could depend on. I believe that my calm demeanor made me bearable to be around, but I don’t think I was gaining any momentum with anybody. If anything I was always moving away from people, until eventually they would be gone from my life or they forced me back into their life.
And on life went, forever leaning in and out of people’s lives, always careful to not stay too long. I had pictured myself as the hopeless but lovable character, never one to take home to mom and dad but always up for a late-night talk. Over the years I began to notice a development that I wasn’t prepared for: I had become so distant from others that I could never be a permanent fixture in anyone’s life. I had become so fearful of other people knowing to what depths I had fallen that I was no longer accessible. People had tried for years to love me but I had been so foolish in my pride that at once it seemed I had lost it all. I realized that love can wear people down, specifically when it is not shown back to them. I had taken this love for granted, forsaking, and exhausting the very thing I wanted most.
I had love from those closest to me, but love wears tragically on these relationships. It is a love that one feels tethered to. At some point, this love becomes painful, difficult to show day in and day out. I had been so incredibly selfish and careless with the love others had shown for me because somewhere in my mind I knew I didn’t deserve it. I had a feeling that it didn’t belong to me anymore; it needed a new, more grateful owner. It didn’t make sense to me because I had been without true emotions for such a long period of time that I didn’t know how to react to it. All I could figure was that people were wasting their time.
And then, one evening in January I broke down. Maybe it was a spiritual awakening or maybe I was just beaten down but I had finally decided to give up the fight, I had been losing for years anyway. As I started to change I could feel these emotions come to life in me: love, pain, remorse, guilt, anger, sadness. I hadn’t felt these in any meaningful way for many years and they all hit me at once like a savage dog let loose in my mind. I didn’t know how to handle these emotions correctly, I just had to let them overwhelm me.
As I continued on I began to awaken to a new life, a new perspective. People had told me to be patient and I had listened. I started seeing the beauty in the actions of others – what was once a blank stare was now an idea. I had the drive to give love back to the world – I had a passion that I hadn’t known at all. I found that inside of me was a wealth of love to give to those who had shown me the same, and it wasn’t forced this time around. It feels natural, like the warmth from a fire. What had become of paramount importance was the fact that I finally found the ability to love myself. I knew how to give freely what for so long had been freely given to me.