If there’s anything I’ve learned from writing extensively online it’s this: None of our experiences are entirely unique.
We’re all fighting our own battles, and no two are the same – that much is true. We’re all facing down personal demons, struggling to conquer our psyches and trying to become better people. We’re all afraid to share what’s going wrong. And yet, there isn’t a single personal article I’ve ever shared that hasn’t been met with at least one email lamenting, “I’m going through the exact same thing and I thought that I was the only one.”
Many of those messages come through Facebook. Most of them come attached to a shiny, polished photo of a person who seems to be radiating joy. They’re on a beach in Mexico holding a Mojito. They’re at home holding a young, happy child. They’re in a wedding dress kissing their partner or they’re in running shoes, finishing a marathon. They’re the last people you’d expect to be scared, reeling or lost. And yet they’re there in abundance – claiming their deep insecurities and expressing utter relief over learning that they’re not alone.
Here’s the truth about how we’re all doing, as far as I understand it:
We all feel like we’re pretending more often than not. None of us are sure that we’ve got it together. We’re all a little bit lost, a little bit inadequate, a little bit broken and a little exposed. We’re all disenchanted with some portion of where we’ve been. We’re all scared shitless of what comes next.
We’ve all been hopelessly in love with someone who doesn’t love us back and heartbroken over someone who we thought we could trust. We’ve all lost ourselves a little inside of a relationship that consumed us too fully. We’ve all traversed through the dark, barren wasteland of heartbreak. We’ve all felt betrayed and blind sighted and broken, and we all blame ourselves for it in some way. We’ve all, in some measure, been dishonest in love ourselves.
We all think that we’re horrible people, deep down. We’ve all done things that have forced a pit of shame to pool in the bottom of our stomachs and for most of us, that shame has been festering for a long, long time. We’re all worried that someone we love is going to discover our dark parts and then cease to love us. We’re all desperate to cover our tracks. We’ll all do almost anything to hide the parts of ourselves that we think are impure and unlovable.
If there’s anything I wish we all understood a little more fully, it’s this: We are never, ever, ever alone.
You’re not the only person with a broken family, a broken spirit or a broken soul. You’re not the only one who’s scared of things that other people don’t seem to be scared of and can’t figure out why. You’re not the only person who’s depressed or anxious or compulsive in ways that make no sense to you. You’re not the only person who’s scared to ask for help. We are all a little broken. We’re all insecure. And at some point, every single one of us is incapable of handling it all on our own.
You’re not the only person who’s been lied to or cheated on or abused. You’re not the only person who didn’t know how to defend themselves when they needed to most. You’re not the only one who’s still hurting from a wound that was inflicted on them long, long ago. You’re not the only one who thinks that they’re taking too long to heal. You may be lost and confused and desperate but if there’s one thing you are not, it’s alone in it. We’re a collection, a society, a nation full of broken hearts and fractured parts. And yet, we are all still here. We’re all still struggling through every day. And we all somehow think that we’re the only ones suffering.
We beat ourselves up over the secrets we keep. We hold ourselves back through them. We loathe and hate and scathe ourselves for what we haven’t done yet, what we should have figured out by now, where we haven’t gotten to in life and where everyone else around us has. We forget that we’re not the only ones keeping secrets. That we’re not the only ones harboring shame. That if we’re liars, cheaters and fakes, so is everyone else that surrounds us.
We forget that it’s okay to be a little bit broken. It’s okay to be shameful and fractured. That it’s okay to not have it all figured out. We forget because nobody tells us. Because we collectively choose to put a brave face on and push those secrets down.
And perhaps there is no easy answer to any of it. There’s no quick fix, no life hack, no single way to pick our fractured hearts up off the floor and piece them back together. But what we can do is show a little more patience for ourselves in the process of doing so – a little more care, a little more understanding and a little less disgust.
We’re all harbouring shame. We’re all holding onto secrets. But we’re all still here, simply doing the best we can.
And no matter how much it feels like it, we’re never, ever alone.