For Those Who Are Drowning: Here Is How I Learned To Swim.
Shut out and shunned again.
Even when it is unintentional, it is a pattern I know all too well. There are parallels that I have explained to you in the past. And they are being reenacted again, now, with actors I never imagined. I feel lost, and alone.
I talk, but none of it matters because the words aren’t getting to you. You cannot hear what I am silently screaming. My tears are merely looked at and acknowledged with sidelong glances, but not felt in the same way. I am just another lost soul.
They see me as damaged or broken. Things you never saw me as. Words you would never use to describe me. You saw me — all of me: my strengths, my courage, my tenacity and stubbornness — the resilience that kept me alive day after day, year after year.
You let me disagree with you and fight with you and encouraged me to look you in the eye and tell you when I was angry or disappointed or worried.
How do I find that again? And is it even worth looking for?
I feel like there is still so much of me that I have to hide. I rattle off facts about my life because they are easy. I know them. I lived them. They are etched on my skin. But I still cannot quantify our relationship, our connection, to others. I cannot adequately explain how you taught me to heal, and how I implicitly trusted you to do so.
There is nothing big enough to hold that.
There are no words that can convey the immense sense of loss I am feeling. I cannot offer an explanation for the emptiness that has consumed me — intentional or not. It may seem unimportant, but it isn’t. It matters, because you mattered.
You still matter — to me and to my healing, to all the things that are significant in my life and on my path. When I first met you I wasn’t sure I would survive another year. I literally thought I might be taken under by the demons of my past. But you refused to let go.
You would not allow the horror of what was in the past to continue to impinge on the beauty of the present.
There were times you tossed me into the deep end and told me to just trust that I could swim. And when I floundered and gasped for air, you taught me to flip over on to my back and float. Just trusting that I could take it all in until I was able to regain my strength enough to keep swimming.
I could always hear you from the shore, shouting words of encouragement and reminding me that you were indeed still there.
If I had heard you explain some of these things beforehand I would have immediately turned on my heel and walked away as quickly as possible. Because in all honesty, they were terrifying and horrific and gut-wrenching.
You knew it, you always knew it; but you also knew that you were willing to be completely in it with me. Standing beside me in a way that no one ever had been before because you saw something worth salvaging. Beneath the pain and the sorrow and the self-loathing, you saw the flicker of light.
You could sense that beacon of hope that was deep within me. And you kindled it as best you could until I started to learn to do it for myself. So now to know that you are suffering and I cannot offer you the same is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. You deserve all that you have given to me and so much more.
I will be that someone to stand on the shore and remind you that no matter what may come, you already know how to swim.
Jill Dabrowski is in a constant state of flux. She is mom to a mini Dalai Lama and twin ninja monkeys and spends much of her time chasing dogs, children, chickens, and the occasional dream. She writes, laughs, runs, and climbs as she embarks on the continual process of learning how to appreciate her scars, breathe deeply, perfect a few random Yoga poses, and be comfortable in her own skin. Jill tries to strike a balance of being satisfied with life as it is in this moment, while continuously striving and actively working for it to be even better tomorrow.