“You’re so strong,” you say. “You deal with things so well. Have the best attitude.”
And I do my best to accept the compliment, but I know that you didn’t see the part where I cried alone. Usually in an empty room. Feeling hopeless and helpless until the tears washed everything clean.
The part where I sulked in silence about the inconvenient reality. Where I wished it weren’t happening. Sighed heavily, staring at the wall.
I didn’t move straight to acceptance. There was a time when I wanted to accept something a lot more than I did. And I was a mess then. You just didn’t see it. Because I typically do that part alone.
A lot of people say they want to be part of it, but they really don’t. Not the worst parts. And I get it… it’s hard. It’s hard to watch — especially as you’re sitting there and there are no magic words you can say to make the person you care about feel better. And it’s hard on me to watch how powerless someone I cares about feels at a time like that. To see how they blame themselves for not being able to quick-fix me.
In the end, it’s usually not worth it. Not worth it to show people the part where I cry like that. That’s usually why I do it alone.
And at times like that, it’s tempting to sink further into that isolation. To stay isolated. But I know that’s nothing healthy either. That people — including me — do better with social support. So there comes a time when I’m done crying alone, and I need to take the risk of talking to someone about it.
“You’re so strong,” you say. But you didn’t see the part where I cried alone. It’s like handing a third draft to someone and having them think you’re a great writer. They never saw the rough work.