Full Display

Dammit, I forgot to order tea.

I did the whole online grocery order thing today. It was great. Someone named Mario shopped in the Super Store for me, sending me updates through the app, like “Replaced Honeycrisps with Pink Ladies. Approve/Disapprove”. How wonderful. Thank you, Mario. But please go back and get the tea.

Anyway. I’m finding it very hard to be alone.

And I’m not just alone physically. For a year or two I’ve been struggling to stop overthinking how I’m perceived in friendships and not convince myself that I’m unlikeable. I’ve never really had that issue before… I’ve typically been pretty confident and love being around people. But for some reason around 22 or 23 I started to think things like “Huh… why hasn’t so-and-so reached out to me lately? Do they think I’m too abrasive? Why does no one text me out of the blue? Am I not approachable?”

Then, very recently, I was told that I was, in fact, problematic. Some sort of behaviour I’ve been exhibiting has made a few people uncomfortable. I have no idea what I did or who those people are. This information was brought to light in an attempt to contextualize someone’s decision to turn their back on me and side with someone who was uncomfortable with the way I express myself.

To make a long story short: I expressed myself to someone (let’s call them Belinda) in the most respectful and honest way I knew how, Belinda got upset about that and couldn’t tell me their boundaries while also respecting my own, they instead turned their emotions towards other people in an explosive outburst, the other people decided to ostracize me, then the other people used this method of “the invisible army” to justify their decision. “There are others like Belinda who came to us. So obviously you’re a problem.” Even though the situation with Belinda is so unique in my life and I have never had to go through anything like it.

Now, not only are these confabulations running rampant in a circle of people I thought “got” me, but I also have to deal with it in silence. Since they no longer want to talk about it with a third party to guide us through a mutual understanding, apparently I just have to sit it out and not express myself at all. In fact, some options for therapy have been offered to me. To recap: Honest self expression -> unpreventable outburst -> losing friends -> former friends confirming my worst fears -> having no way to find peace in that.

The point of telling this story is just to say that now I’m even more alone than I was before. This group of people formed a sense of community in my life at a time when I was finding it hard to feel welcomed. When this all started happening I tried my best to see where they were coming from, since I didn’t understand Belinda’s (real and genuine) hurt. I would try to encourage conversation and come to an emphatic understanding. But that was a problem too.

There are a few useful strategies that I’m using to cope with all of this and mantras I’m repeating to keep myself sane. These include “this is just a small blip and will heal in time” and “what’s happening here is just one small facet of your life: you are an expansive being and can’t be tamed by those who refuse to recognize your potential” yada yada yada.

But a realization that I thought particularly important to share here is that I’m a frickin’ storyteller.

One of the biggest things weighing on me is that I feel silenced. I can’t tell my story in a way that will change the situation. I’m getting closer to accepting that that’s just the reality, that I can’t convince them to empathize with where I’m coming from, but what I do know for sure is that story will find its place in people’s hearts someday soon.

I’ve had some great conversations with friends about all of this and they have been immensely helpful. And I will eventually find inner peace and heal through that process of storytelling. One thing that will be incredibly useful in that regard is including some version of this story in a play. That’s for sure going to happen. Because I’m a creator, and what I create is shaped by the experiences I’ve had in life.

And the feeling you get as an artist when something you create resonates with others is so powerful and uplifting. I’m currently worried about not having a community and being alone in this pain, but I do know that when I’m able to get back up on my feet and start creating again I will find like-minded people who will empathize with no judgment. That’s one beautiful thing about being an artist: putting your full self on display in such a way that attracts the people who actually matter.

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