You are not alone. I want, need, you to know that.
When that feeling starts behind your eyes, when the pins run through your chest and up your spine, when breathing gets hard…you are not alone.
When you tell yourself you can’t do it, that you have to run, to flee to safety (though where that is also eludes you), when you call yourself names and want to hide…you are not alone.
I am right there beside you. I too am quaking inside with a smile held in place by the panic of what ifs…what if I say the wrong thing, what if I come across as stupid, what if they’re just being nice, what if I don’t belong here…what if they see what I see when I look in the mirror?
And I am not alone. You are there beside me. And another is across the way, talking too fast because she doesn’t want the mask to slip, for us to see her pink underbelly of frozen fear that she’s had to thaw, just a little, to even get here.
And beside her, and beside her, and across from her…
We are not alone. And even more so, we understand. We know that when the tears rise and the hands shake, to let go and let you breathe and pull yourself together in the quiet. We know, and our hearts ache for each other because we are not alone though no one else should have to swallow their terror at being found an imposter, at being found lacking at…everything.
No. We are not alone. You are not alone. And in our own ways, we are here for one another, quietly strong in our trembling vulnerability, and if you reach out, you will find a hand, a grip to keep you from sinking until you can stand on your newborn colt legs once more. You are enough. You are wonderful and wild and unique and yes, people do actually like you. No, they’re not just being nice.
We live with this stuff. You, me, she, her. We live around it, stride over it, sometimes get run over by it. But we live. And we’ll keep living, refusing to let it take life’s beauty, even if sometimes it gains a little ground. We can, we must, be gentle with ourselves and try to outmanoeuvre it when we can, and be ungracious hosts when we can’t; refusing to engage in its rhetoric of spinning annihilation. No tea for you, mangy black thoughts. You are not welcome.
You are not alone. Know that.