I really like being alone. I'm the kind of introvert that comes with social anxiety and shyness, even if you can't see it. After a long day, I can't wait to get home to be alone in my own space. It's like a deep breath out.
Maybe this is why I like to do things on my own. Maybe it's some deeper reaction against a fear of being dependent or needing someone (and the terror that they wouldn't come through or that I would be too much for them). Regardless, I have always kept the most difficult parts of my life to myself. I don't share when I need help. I don't say the things I think would put my weakness and neediness on display. I go home and sit alone. I think about all the people that I could call, who would probably feel honored for me to trust them with my tears. And then I cry alone anyway. This has always been my default, and I have always secretly believed that this was the right choice.
The people in my life that have been honest about their shortcomings are some of my favorite people in the world. I prize authenticity above almost everything else. And yet, I hold myself short of it out of fear. Fear of what, I'm still not sure. But I know it has something to do with the way I want others to see me, and what I want to believe about myself.
Why in the world am I writing this? Many of you have been with me since this journey of vulnerability started a few Lent seasons ago, on this blog. I've been experimenting since then with measured risks and honesty (even the kind that doesn't paint the version of myself that I want to believe is true).
Recently, some difficult things have happened in my life. In the grand scheme of things, probably not a big deal. But they were big enough that I literally couldn't handle them alone. I was forced with the choice of asking for help or facing consequences that might ruin my life. And this is what it took.
Honestly, I probably still wouldn't have had the guts to do it if a friend hadn't pulled it out of me. But that moment changed things. I began to take real risks with real people and be truly authentic in a way that scared the hell out of me. I was desperate and in a place of pain, and I didn't shield it for fear of what would happen. I was sure that I was going to sink, and I just needed to make sure I'd checked everywhere for a life raft.
And then the most amazing thing happened. People started helping me. Not in that "I'll pray for you and never talk to you about this again" way. But in the, "I'm going to call you every single day even if you get sick of me" way. In the "I can do something about this problem, and I'm going to" way. In the "You are not okay. Stop lying to yourself and to me" way. In the "I am going to take care of you for the next few moments and make you a bowl of soup" way. In the "Go ahead and talk about whatever you fear is annoying for the next 16 hours and I will still ask you follow up questions" way.
Suddenly, the world seems a little bit different to me. I'm trusting a little bit more. I'm feeling a little bit better about who I am. I'm a little less concerned about how much I might be annoying the people in my world.
I have long believed in the idea of community. But I guess I didn't really believe in it. This post is just to thank you, the people who have loved me, wooed me out of my fear-corners, unceasingly told me that I am worthy of space. My vulnerability journey is giving way to life lived in real community.
If you have loved me, thank you. If you share my fears, I can relate to your desire to just be Superperson and do it all alone. But if for a moment we can consider together that we might be missing out on something better - messier, but better - then can I tell you this? I've only just dipped my toe in, but the water isn't that bad. In fact, it feels pretty refreshing.