The Burden of My Very Being, Or the Fear of Being Vulnerable?

I’d like to say 2017 has been a journey of self-awareness, reflection, and tying up loose ends thus far. After several random spells of anxiety with accompanying fatigue, nausea, and a general feeling that the weight of the world was falling down on me, it became clear that I was holding a lot of emotional shit back. As much as I preach and praise vulnerability, I hate being vulnerable myself. I share things about my life like a third person narrative, often omitting the emotions and insecurities that are buried beneath my actions and reactions.

But what makes a story relatable if we don’t talk about the feelings associated with it? How can we authentically connect with others when we can’t even be honest with ourselves, nevermind with those around us? How can I be the beacon of light I’ve longed to become when I feel more like an anchor, dragged down by the weight of my suppressed emotions and worries about everyone around me?

When I became intrigued by the idea of the Lighthouse, one of the first quotes I came across was “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” I couldn’t understand this quote. What do you mean they don’t go running looking for people to save? That’s all I felt that I was capable of doing, finding the broken and carrying their emotional burdens while I save them. I once mistook this for love, but “You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love.” I’ve grown up always giving and putting others’ needs before my own because someone was always worse off than I was. Yet, I convinced myself that I was a horrible human being and that my very existence was a burden to everyone in my life. I suppose this is why I became especially obsessed with this idea of saving growing up, because who would consider a saviour a burden?

I’m a people pleaser. I want to make people happy. Is that care-taking, or just me acting on my fear of abandonment? I made everyone’s emotional well-being my responsibility. Offering a helping hand became offering a whole arm and eventually my entire body. I masked my brokenness for the sake relieving others. I’ve always been more of a caretaker, my amiability is a gift, but what happens when you run out of pieces to give?

I ran out of pieces recently. A lovely alopecia flare up came unexpected and I was terrified for what the future could bring. I isolated myself, refused to reach out for help, and felt myself falling back into old bad habits that I swore were gone for good.

My therapist once asked me “Who are you if you aren’t helping people?” and I immediately said “nothing.” She then asked me the question “What if you were in some awful car accident and had to be taken care of? How would you feel?” Guilty. Burdensome. But why do I feel this way when I know there are people who love and support me in this world? I am blessed with light around me, words of encouragement, and hugs of validation. I’ve found my calm in the chaos, and it’s kept me from completely drowning. However, everything is temporary, and that is terrifying. If my candle is being lit, I should be lighting every candle I possibly can right? Perhaps if I light every candle, I won’t lose the love I desperately need, even though I believe that I don’t actually have it. I’m one big hypocrite, my own worst enemy, trapped in a fear that immobilizes me from getting what I want.

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