Many people, including your family, will think that what you describe is only shyness and that you need to get over yourself.
It’s ok to stop trying to get them to understand. It’s ok to feel like it’s not worth the energy. They don’t know what “going away” is like. They don’t and can’t know that you became too good at pretending the present isn’t real when it got to be too much for you.
I know what you want. You want the type of comfort and true understanding of those around you—the acknowledgement and understanding that being forced to be social when you’re not in that space is physically, mentally, and spiritually painful for you.
You want someone to know simple things, like that the reason you don’t wear your cute clothes to school is because you sweat through them and can only wear hoodies.
You want someone to know and understand the real you on a fundamental level.
You want a type of understanding and emotional connection that most people around you simply are not capable of, which will leave you discouraged.
Most of the friends you have during this time won’t understand or be able to relate. Don’t give up.
When your head feels like it is splitting in two because your voice squeaks during your presentation and you can’t breathe, know that you’ll get through it. There will be people who take advantage of you, but you’ll eventually shed them. There will be days where you will feel like you’re constantly choking. There will be days that you will press yourself into the comfort of your bed covers and shake. That’s ok.
Know that I understand, even if it seems like no one else in your current world does. I know what you desire, and yes, you will get it one day. Let that hope sustain you.
It’s ok that you cling to people who may not be the best for you because you feel like you have nothing else and that’s scary.
Try to forgive yourself for that. You will one day.
You will overcome.
What you struggle with now, will not always rule you and your thoughts.
You will break free from people who have limited your growth and your spirit with their misery and chaos.
You’ll help so many people both personally and professionally with all sorts of different struggles because you’ve been there in the dark with demons.
You’ve been to the precipice and stared into the dark void. You know what it’s like to not want to be around and feel like things will never get any better. You know what it’s like to feel as though just mere existence is some cruel form of exposure therapy when all you want to do is just be comfortable in your own skin. That day will come.
From someone who deeply knows and understands you, know that I am proud of you.
What you have to offer people is beyond measure.
One day you will begin to see that, own it, and no one will ever be able to tell you any different again.
Natalie holds a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and is a licensed counselor in the state of Pennsylvania, US. She is pursuing her doctorate in counselor education and supervision, and writes a mental health blog with tips, reviews, and research, etc.