I’ve spent most of my life feeling “messed up.” I have used humor as a way to deflect some of my feelings about that, and I struggle with the pressures to make light of the pain and shame that often accompanies it. I cannot be funny or “on” all the time, and I know this. That mask gets in the way of my ability to connect on a deeper level when necessary.

It’s important to not let certain aspects of my past get in the way of my present, but sometimes I take “fake it til you make it” too far. I have come to this realization too many times to count, and although the level of vulnerability it requires to be open to those feelings out loud is never easy, it’s vital to my healing process.

Pretending is what I have always done best, and writing my heart has broken down much of the wall standing between me and freedom. Today I understand it’s not who I am that I’ve been hiding, it’s all the things about me I don’t want you to see.

But here’s the thing: I’m not even afraid of those things anymore, and the wall has been unnecessary for quite some time.

What keeps that wall up, these days, is my comfort in its presence. It was built to protect me from all the things, and it has, in many ways, saved me. When I’m feeling disconnected, it serves as a piece of old furniture that might remind me what home smells like or provide the safety of “ghouls” during a game of tag.

Except there aren’t any skeletons left in my closet to play with, and the only feelings that stupid wall provokes are loneliness and mourning — a longing for what it might actually have been like to ever just feel safe because it was my right.

It’s like a heavy sweater I know I probably won’t need, but bring to the party, “just in case.” Awkwardly, I carry it from conversation to conversation, trying not to focus on it while it weighs on me. I want to set it down, to ask someone to take it from me, but I’m also terrified to let it out of my sight. Because even though I can’t remember the last time I needed it, even though it doesn’t even fit me anymore, I can’t imagine being without it.

It lands me in this space; the space I’m in today. Because I wanted to feel better, so I did that thing I know better than to do; even though I knew all it would do is make me feel like shit. I’m in that place, activated somewhere in the trauma of yesterday, and so anxious I wish I could set myself on fire to feel anything else. I would give my left arm to settle somewhere between too much and too little, and just sit there for a moment before oscillating back.

Alcohol helped me fake elation and lie to myself, cigarettes gave me a corporeal excuse for feeling lousy, binging and purging or self-harming in some other way to escape this feeling that never seems to go away. I have no more vices left, and it sucks huge-ass donkey balls to know better.

Sometimes I wish I could just un-know the fact that nothing will ever fully take the sting away. I just have to hum along until the song changes. Time and experience has taught me that it will…eventually.

I know that everything is okay — that I’m not in any of those horrible places right now. I’ve self-talked myself off the ledge and reminded myself 1000 times that I’m safe and surrounded by love. But my system doesn’t always trust me, and I’m wired for sound just in case.

Just in case something terrible happens, I’ll definitely be prepared. Just in case I’m not 100% safe — in case he’s not who I think he is. In case there is danger lurking where I can’t see; like so many many times I let down that guard and didn’t see — until it was much too late.

So even though I know I’m okay, somehow I’m not; just in case.

Because trauma has changed me, and my reality is not always reflective of what’s real.

Writing these truths has has shined a brilliant light on the sick circles I run, and helped me realize the amount of work still to be done.

Today though, I’m exhausted by awareness. I wish I could let go for just a second to just actually BE anything beyond the fucked up broken doll I see every time I look in the mirror. No matter how many times I change her hair, her clothes, or her scene. No matter how many times I’ve taken stock of the damages or action to fix what’s broken, there always seems to be something more.

“Doesn’t matter how tough we are. Trauma always leaves a scar. It follows us home. It changes our lives. Trauma messes everybody up but maybe that’s the point. All the pain and the fear and the crap, maybe going through all that is what keeps us moving forward. It’s what pushes us. Maybe we have to get a little messed up before we can step up.”

Maybe we have to get a little messed up…before we can step up. Maybe messed up is where I’m meant to be in order to fulfill my purpose. That is what keeps me moving forward, pushes me, and (ironically) what often keeps me from giving up.

Some days, all I can do is show up; and trust in the universe to do the rest.

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