There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m still the same person I was a year ago. They aren’t expecting me to turn up and look like I’ve been dragged out of Bedlam. Nobody is judging.
I told myself all these things yesterday because I had to visit friends I haven’t seen since last Christmas. I was nervous about it. I feel as though I’ve managed to destroy the image I wanted them to have of me.
I worked so hard in the past to seem strong, capable, confident. I was the one who made conversation to save everyone from awkward silences. I made the jokes and poured the drinks and energised the party.
When we saw our friends yesterday, I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I felt like an alien, like I had been air-dropped into someone else’s life. The whole event seemed to be dragged down by my quietness, my unwillingness to make the effort. I could manage it for a short while, but after a couple of hours I was exhausted. I had to just sit in my own little pool of silence and let the conversation wash over me.
It was different. They were different with me. Nobody asked how I was, probably because they were scared what the answer would be. Or maybe they just didn’t feel comfortable asking. Either way, it felt hurtful.
Our friend who lost her sister around this time two years ago talked about how horrible Christmas is for her and they responded to that. I have a huge amount of sympathy for her, but she upset me by saying that she thought people who moaned about family issues should just be grateful they have a family.
I felt like screaming when she said it. Because I’m so grateful I have a brother who sexually abused me and a dad who is hardly talking to me because I finally swept this dark secret out from under the carpet. I can’t wait to spend time with them. In fact I’m going abroad this year just to escape having to be in the toxic atmosphere that hangs over my family right now. Yeah, I’m really fucking grateful.
It is hard to think people care when they don’t ask. It’s hard to be around people who aren’t willing to make themselves that little bit uncomfortable when they know I’ve had an awful year.But they are friends we’ve known for ages and I do love them. And maybe I’m just being oversensitive, because I’ve spent a lot of time with the friends I made in hospital lately and they are incredibly compassionate and not afraid to know what’s going on for me.
When you’ve had a breakdown, spending time with ‘normal’ people can be bloody hard work.
Photo credit: Koshy Koshy, Creative Commons