Somewhere Between Thank You and F&%# You.
To all those who did not help me when I needed it the most, I am caught somewhere between wanting to say Thank You and F&%# You.
Between hoping for an apology and wishing for nothing at all. You allowed me to feel as though my realistic and valid needs were over the top. That they signaled neediness and desperation, and that existing in a sad or angry or grieving state — depending on the moment — was too much for you.
That was how I felt, how I continue to feel. An unintended consequence perhaps, but a consequence all the same.
My pain was not convenient. It never has been, and it likely never will be. For anyone. There is never really a good time for loss or tragedy or devastation. But it is in those moments that we are called to step up, to step forward. To offer something, anything — be it words or support or simply presence. Things that can make a world of difference to anyone aching and longing for a glimpse of compassion and empathy.
Those who I thought would be with me through thick and thin allowed me to all too quickly learn that I was sorely mistaken, that the trust I believed I could place in them was as fragile as a spider web and I would come crashing down quickly and suddenly to an unyielding ground.
My feelings are an inconvenience. Inopportune. Unfortunate. And I have been forced, for the most part, to muddle through them alone. Blinded and gasping for breath. My downfall was not scripted right. The timing was off. The characters not cast well. The parts poorly acted. I didn’t look like I should, and I went completely off script, saying far more than what was anticipated. Except when I didn’t.
Except when I said absolutely nothing at all. And that was easier for everyone else.
I never planned it this way. I had no intention of finding myself in this place. At this time. Living this life. The pieces around me waiting to make some semblance of sense. Yet amongst the brokenness, I am not shattered. Cracked perhaps. Bits falling to the side. But that may be where they belong. Nevertheless, here I am. Breathing. Or at least trying to. Even in the stifling air. The suffocating silences.
The continuous pushing aside, pushing under, pushing away. My head continuously seeking air as I resurface for a few breaths before I am pulled under again. Chin up, my friend. Chin up. I see the hands that clasp tightly over ears as soon as I do not indicate that all was fine. That it is fine. That I am okay. And that an all clear had been sounded.
But that was where I found myself. Where I still find myself. Sparing the feelings of others. Protecting them from my pain. My sorrow. My suffering. The ache I feel deep within my bones. I don’t speak my truths, so you don’t feel uncomfortable. So you don’t have to worry about wringing your hands and staring down at the floor rather than meeting my tear-filled eyes.
Do not get me wrong, there are those who have emerged from the shadows, some entirely unexpected, and stepped in when I was plummeting to the ground at astonishing speed. And it is those people who have quite possibly saved me from myself.
Lighthouses that have dotted the shores as I struggled to swim, buoying me with words and light, compassion and a willingness to continue to look for me even in the dark. Offering presence as I was ensconced in loneliness and despair.
I remain unbroken. Perhaps a bit worse for wear. And beaten down. I am exhausted, and oftentimes I feel utterly and completely alone. But maybe this is something I should thank you for. Because within an unanticipated dearth of compassion, behind the diverted eyes and the stony silence, I have had to stand tall.
I have been forced to find my voice. To pull strength from depths I had not plunged to before, reservoirs I was not even aware I embodied.
You do not get to define how I should be, how I get to feel. What matters and what does not. This is not your life. I would have hoped that those I considered closest to me would be willing and able to trudge through this alongside me, but I also know it is asking a lot. Expecting too much. Or maybe just exactly as much as I deserve.
I feel things. Deeply. Into the marrow of my bones. The footprints that are washed away for others leave impressions in my mind that are often still seen after an earth-shaking storm. But this is who I am, who I have always been. And if that is too much, then so be it.
I no longer have room in my life for those who cannot live out loud. Who look away from tears. Who will not hold a hand or offer a kind word in the moment it is needed. Those who can are my people. They are who I need in my life, who I want in my life, and who I will continue to hold space for. I refuse to continue to compromise myself or to remain unseen for the comfort of others.
So while your silence speaks volumes, mine no longer will. I have things to say. I have a voice. And it needs to be heard. I deserve to be heard. I will no longer be that child sitting off to the side, fearful of telling her truths, or that woman being told she says too much. I will step into myself. Tiptoe by tiptoe. With or without you here. I am not too much. I am me. And that, I am finding, is completely enough.
So Thank You. And F&%# You. Without your help, I stumbled upon my own resilience and realized how much I don’t really need you.
Jill Dabrowski is an empathetic introvert who feels too much and sleeps too little, but is rather accustomed to the imbalance. She is in the midst of a delicious state of upheaval that is allowing her to find her voice and create her own safe place to land. Jill lives for the pause between the inhale and the exhale, and has a tendency to become enamored with people who make her heart come alive. She spends much of her time trying to keep up with her progeny — twin ninja monkeys and a mini Dalai Lama — as they come into themselves. She runs and writes and meditates, yet still tries to find time to wish on dandelions and falling stars as she strikes random Yoga poses. She is actively working to become more comfortable in her skin, scars and all. Jill has written for Upworthy, Be You Media Group, Rebelle Society, This is My Brave, The Tattooed Buddha, and Some Talk of You & Me.