Sienna (Pt 4) – I’m A Miracle
Another quick recap (but really, go back and read the other parts if you haven’t for this to make complete sense): I was a child dealing with crippling shyness, which meant I had real difficulties finding friends and a sense of belonging growing up. That led to a lifelong struggle with loneliness. Yet here I am – surviving, thriving in fact. Simply put…a walking miracle.
But the struggle kept building. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. You can’t talk to people other than your family and maybe one or two others at school every now and again. For everyone else, it’s a smile or, if you’re feeling brave, a “Hi”. You have people, your family, saying things like, “why don’t you just speak when people talk to you?”.
As if it was just that easy! No one would choose to live like I was living. No one would choose that pain, but then again, no one knew the pain I felt. All they saw was someone who didn’t speak. They probably didn’t understand it. I mean, I didn’t even understand it!
I was alone. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I couldn’t connect with anyone. But fundamentally, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something inside of me was the problem – I was just wired differently. In fact, as an adult (who now speaks, by the way), I remember speaking to someone who knew me as a child growing up. They said how amazing it was to see me now, as they genuinely thought something was really wrong with me as a child. I’m not sure that’s the nicest thing to hear, especially as I was at their house doing their child a favour at the time, but it was nothing that I didn’t grow up thinking myself, so I’ll forgive the comment!
No one else seemed to have issues talking to people. Everyone else had friends. And why wouldn’t they? They weren’t weird like me, I figured. It got deeper though. Every failed social interaction where I couldn’t force my brain to think of something to say, had me thinking more and more about how strange I was. How no one would ever have the patience to keep trying to befriend me and how I would be alone forever.
With every night that passed, with the tears running down my face, the dull ache of loneliness sat heavy on my heart to the point that I started to internalise everything, over and over again. I hated being different. I hated being shy. I hated being alone. Then, because I was the problem at the centre of it all, I hated myself. After all, what was there to like? I cried a lot behind closed doors. I was awkward and shy. I was just so different and so alone. Who would ever want to be around me?
I truly believed something was wrong with me. Something that I could, and would, never be able to fix. I couldn’t see the good things about myself. I couldn’t see my worth. I felt like nothing. However, on the surface I got good marks at school and I played in all the sports teams. I was a model student. All very good cover for what I truly felt but could never share with anyone. I hated ‘me’, but I was ashamed to say so. How could I? The only people I talked to was family and I thought they would never understand – they loved me after all. Wouldn’t it just hurt them to say I didn’t love myself? Having grown up in church, we learn that God made us; so how could I say I hated what He made?