We are not alone. None of us are. We’re stumbling in the dark trying to figure out how to be it or do it. Hold on to it or let go of it. Sometimes we don’t even know what it is – except we’re sure that everyone else does.
Voices whisper that there is no one like us. No one would understand. We are lonely and afraid to be ourselves. We live expecting someone to come through the door and tell us we’re not doing it right.
If it’s not we, at least it’s me. My childhood was soaked through with confusion. Life was a puzzle with the box missing and it was never clear which picture we were trying to assemble. I prayed, went to the library often, and wished I knew who to talk to.
As far as I could tell, talking wasn’t what people did. It took years for me to understand that this was because most people assume that they are alone. That they believe their feelings of inadequacy (and all the proofs thereof) are unique to them alone. Life was, I discovered, a great deal of pretending. Performance and appearance are some of our world’s most sacred values.
I’ve made some new friends who don’t have it all together. They don’t try to hide their struggles. No one has any energy or interest in pretense. My friends are giving me something that I want and without meaning to, I find myself studying them, trying to understand it.
This caught my eye in a paragraph from writer, Heather King talking about what we have to give each other. We have, she says, “our wounds, our holy longing, our groping in the dark.”
What we have to give each other is the truth that we are not alone. Despair and shame assail, but against the sharing of “our wounds and holy longing,” they are rendered mute by the voice of love.
It’s like we live in ditches, sitting up to our armpits in mud with the garbage of every car that’s gone by squishing up against us. We can see neck and shoulders of the person across the road. We’re equipped with a washcloth, a voice, and a curling iron. Standard etiquette is to keep your face clean, your hair curled, and make frequent reference to the sunshine or the birds.
One day the unthinkable happens. The woman across the way stands up from her stretch of supposedly manicured lawn. The ear rings you’ve admired from afar are the last nice thing about her. Not only is she muddy, she only has one leg. A diaper and a squashed coke can are stuck in the mud on her.
Relief floods you. Tears wash down your face. You are not alone.
In your ditch, there might be diapers and coke cans. In mine, there is a winter’s worth of dog poop, some very frustrated dreams, uninvited levels of emotion over little things, a lot of uncertainty, some recurring unhealed mess that is completely fine until the days it isn’t (which really ticks me off unless it makes me cry), shame, self doubt, and an abiding loneliness. My bounce backer function is also behaving rather erratically these days.
We are not alone. This is the truth that we have to offer each other. These are the words of our gift until the final word which is love.