For so very many years I felt like I was sleepwalking through my life. I experienced things but it was as though I was doing so from under water. You see the things that are going on but everything feels muddled. You can’t actually hear what is going on around you but you know that there are people talking to you. You move through the day feeling as though you are dragging your legs through the sand, making so little headway. And then one day you wake up.
Not all at once. But in bits and pieces. Slowly you begin t see that the sun is still shinning and it is as warm as you remembered. I remember waking up. I remember the day i decided that things were going to change. I told my therapist that as of June 1st great things were going to happen and big changes were going to take place. This was in March. It gave me some time to get things in order. It was probably the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I enrolled in college.
I had been to college before. After I finished High School I went for almost four years. But I never really accomplished anything. I went through the motions. I went to class and did the work. But as time passed I stopped going to class and stopped doing the work. I was falling even deeper asleep. I had bouts of wakefulness but not really awake. You know you have finally woken up when you realize so much time has passed.
Back to waking up. I enrolled in college and started moving through. I met some amazing people. Some who were very accepting and others judged without knowing me. But I kept moving and finally graduated with my BA in Health Arts from Goddard College. And now I am struggling through another program and working towards my Masters degree.
So where am I going with this? I am saying that we all wake up at some point. Maybe not completely. But enough to see what is in the world. I still feel like life moves around me at a different speed.As though I can see that people are talking but I can’t always understand it. But I know that I have survived things that I would never wish on anyone and still carry all my scars. But there is always a time when I can look around and feel the sun. Even though sometimes I am still asleep.
In my journey I have found that community is an amazingly beautiful place to heal. I have set up various safe places where there are loving and accepting people. One of my favorite spots is the library. The local library lets me hang out for the day and study. They ask after me and are always kind. Kindness is such a balm on a sad day.
The coffee shop, where they make the most amazing hot chocolate, allow me to sit and use their internet and always have good conversation. The thing is that in all theses places there are people who have stories either like mine or similar. And so many people struggle through their own darkness.
But, one of the most amazing places of community that I have found is at Goddard College. My Alma Matter! When I showed up in 2010 for the Health Arts and Science program I was so new to being around large groups for extended amounts of time. And I don’t care what people say, orientation is almost hazing for people like me. At one point in the midst of the orientation day long session my brain had enough. I was falling headlong into a major anxiety and panic attack. All I wanted to do was run out of the room and find a place to hide. I turned to the person next to me and said “I have to go. I am having a really bad panic attack.” Then to my surprise the person looked at me and said, “What can I do to help you?” Not the usual “Well, take care.”, but how can I help. I told them what I needed. To not have to talk anymore.
In the circle, which to me are insanely unsafe things, that we were sitting in became claustrophobic and I pulled my chair back slightly. Making a “Q” instead of a circle. Then when the conversation moved around the circle and people took turns answering the current question the woman on my right answered and the woman on my left seamlessly responded. There was no pause. No uncomfortable silence while people waited for me to talk. Safety.
I had found my tribe. My safe people who expected me to be myself and to come out of my shell slowly. There is community everywhere. And we should never suffer alone. Though we often choose to. We really are not alone, though we often feel that way. It is easier to heal with someone than alone.