you and me

I’m Tired of Apologizing for My Pain.

I’m so tired of saying I’m sorry.

I’m tired of constantly apologizing for the emotions I feel, the struggles I fight against every day.

I’m tired of apologizing when my pain makes others uncomfortable.

I’m tired of the uncomfortable gaze, the sudden quietness of conversation. How my guilty admittance of pain has soured an otherwise pleasant day. How they wish I hadn’t said anything.

I’m tired of the others who dismiss my pain as a dramatization. They wave away my feelings with a murmured placation or misplaced advice. Just go for a walk and see how things feel. You’ll be fine in no time.

Dismissing my pain as a shallow wound hurts just as much as the discomfort. Maybe more.

Reducing my pain to a minor passing discomfort is cruel reminder that the pain I experience is not what most go through. And the patience and understanding it would take to truly begin to understand is more than most anyone is willing to do.

And so, I have learned to swallow it, like a bitter sip of wine, acidic and burning as it chokes past the knot in my throat. I swallow it, because the alternative is to sit in a shameful silence while you know your presence is unnerving. To hold the pain of rejection in this palpable tension. The pain of knowing that what you have, who you are, makes other people unnerved.

The shame that washes over you, like a hot flood. Shame that this is my story, and it is not happier. Shame that even the basic most unassuming questions make me cringe, because I know the answer will only make us both anxious. The minefield of getting to know someone is fraught when you have grown up in a broken place.

That the horrors and traumas that I underwent as a child, the story, my story, makes people wish they had not started a conversation with me. It is knowing how people will react to my story, and so I learn to downplay, or to avoid the questions altogether. To pretend that I too had a charmed childhood, that I don’t sit at home and cry until I feel my chest will quite literally burst open from the pain.

I have learned to cry silently, to hold my body still, and hold back the cries in my throat.

I’m tired of being ashamed of feeling this pain. I live in a pain so old, it has helped raise me. While my friends tackle everyday challenges, I am trying to break free of years of emotional abuse. I was raised by people who made it their mission to break me. Instead of love and affection, I was taught worthlessness and shame. I can’t even begin to explain this kind of pain. It doesn’t have words.

I wish I could just let it go, be finally free of it, but when pain has wormed its way into your being, it doesn’t relinquish control that easily.

For anyone who has a traumatic past, they know how to pinpoint that exact moment when the other person’s eyes begin to shift, looking for any other point in the room, a way to extricate themselves from the conversation.

We live in a society that preaches the acceptance and beauty of real honesty, but when honesty is presented, and that honesty does not come tied up in a beautiful package, when it is rough and dirty and broken, and has not been mended, what then? Then honesty becomes too much, out of place, unbearable.

And so, we learn to sweep it up our messes, to sandwich pieces of our pain up with mindless platitudes folded around them, to downplay the pain ourselves, just to be able to express something, even if it is not the whole truth.

I know what it’s like, my dear friend, who has also undergone unspeakable pains. And whenever you want, I am here to listen, with my full heart. With me you will never be a burden, with me there is no shame, no discomfort. Because dear friend, we are one and the same. Bonded. And I will always be here to listen, and to feel with you.

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Zoey Ilouz is a traveler who is searching for the right place to land. She has a degree in Creative Writing and Conflict Resolution, and still hopes to save the world when she grows up. Zoey is a lover of yoga, music, good food, painting and writing. Bike-riding is her therapy. She hopes to continue her travels, and explore as much of the world and herself as possible.

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