Updated: Sep 18, 2021
I used to think I might be cursed. Cursed by a legacy of being alone. Sliced, cut, by a repeated rejection. I wanted to temp fate. I wanted to beat it. I used to think I could protect myself from the world’s desertion. I thought, maybe if they didn’t see me, they wouldn’t reject me. I thought by hiding myself I could somehow break the spell.
If I was cursed to be unlovable, then I had to become someone else to be loved.
I went through life guarded, hidden, protected. Always thinking before I spoke, before I laughed, before I admitted. Going against every instinct. Instead, I would observe those around me. Those who weren’t cursed. Who were accepted and loved. Watching their reactions, their feelings, in hopes they would either mirror my own or I could act as a way to regulate myself into how they felt. I could morph into who they were. Into the enchanted land of normalcy. Where people were surrounded. Had others that cared. I could trick myself into becoming them. I could trick them into loving me in the process. In my perception, I could change into who I thought the world wanted me to be instead of what I was. I could become what I thought the world found acceptable. Into what I thought the world loved.
Not trusting my own emotions or thoughts were valid. Being alone for so long, I believed, I feared, it was my destiny. The only way to not face the piper was to become them. They couldn’t reject me if I never showed who I was. If I acted just as they did.
I wouldn't argue, or speak, or state an opinion. I would stay quiet. People began to linger on the outskirts. However, the more that came, the lonelier I felt. A loneliness that was palpable. Overwhelming. Borderline unbearable.
What I once perceived as my destiny, I had brought into fruition. I had manifested into the here and now. Now surrounded, but by people who had no idea who I was. Without the love, the acknowledgement, the emotion that went with being noticed. Of being myself. Of being free.
My silence didn’t break the curse. Instead I gave it strength. Power. While removing my own.
I held on as long as I could that way, until I recognized the prison I put myself into.
Until I saw while trying to avoid the inevitable, I created it more quickly.
Until, one day, I met someone who asked me a simple question. A simple question no one else asked. No one else thought to. No one else saw.
In this question, he revealed that he saw me. He recognized my discomfort. He saw my guard. My wall. He revealed he wanted to see past it.
It terrified me.
At the same time, it was everything I always wanted.
Petrified, yet aware this could be my only chance to show who I was. Right here. Right now. Gripped in fear. Behind my wall, the fragile mess inside me pulsated. Thumped against my chest. I could feel the need inside me reaching out to be grabbed. This person who I stood in front of somehow saw through my facade. As if I were translucent to him and his hazel eyes. This person could be the only person to ever want to ask me this question. This could be my only chance to expose who I really am.
He asked, “Why do you keep people so far away?”
I felt my cheeks flush as if he could see right through me. He could see the shame and fear that transparently showed behind my not so thick wall. I wanted to quickly, frantically, rebuild it right then and there. Defensively answering, “What?”
“It’s obvious.” He said back without blinking an eye. As he stepped one step closer to me, my heart rate increasing. Looking through my eyes and into my fearful soul. He continued to ask, “But why?”
That moment was my moment to break my personal prison. With or without the curse. I could find the courage to stand up to everything I was so desperately scared of. To dare to trust someone enough to show who I was. How I thought. What I worried about. A chance to admit my loneliness. A chance to release some of its power.
I thought to myself, he could run, if I tell him. Or I could stay silent and watch him walk away.
Either way I would be as lonely as I was before he asked. But I also would have a regret I didn't have the bravery to meet the moment. If I wanted anything to change, I had to be stronger than my fear. I had to do in that second what I was most fearful of. I stood before him and mustered up the courage to speak.
I looked into his hazel eyes and said, “They can't reject me if they don't know me.”
I remained standing in front of him, cold, bare, as if removing everything that covered me. Feeling the blood leave my face as I awaited his reaction to my frightful truth.
He nodded and his hazel eyes grew softer as he asked, “Who rejected you?” “Everyone.” I shamefully answered.
He stood there, gently shaking his head and said, “They don't know you enough to reject you. It isn't you they are rejecting.”
I kept standing there before him in my discomfort, letting his words marinate, as he stared into my fearful eyes and as I embraced releasing my secret out into the cold air between us. He didn’t walk or run away. He calmly sat down next to me. He didn't look at me. He didn't speak. He didn't leave. I stood there, feeling the curse slightly fracture. Just enough to see, to question, to hope, for the possibility it could one day break.
Then, I slowly sat next to him and I watched him stay.