The feeling of being truly alone

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018
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My heart beats deep and erratically; it moves around in my chest like someone reaching through my tight skin and clutching it like a stick shift. With every movement, my body revs and shakes like an engine. My eyes are heavy, the bottom lids pulled down by my slouching spine. No other posture feels more comfortable than making myself as small as I feel. Chills crawl down my neck and into my shoulders, irritating the knots that will not abate, every pinprick of stress lies within them. I want to drill augers into them until holes form where they used to be.

I try to breathe, but my lungs are too close to the surface. Every breath feels like an average-sized airbag going off inside a Polly-Pocket-sized car. The edges puff over the windows, and there’s not enough room to hold everything inside. My lungs can’t take in enough air; my body is too small. Layer after layer of skin is peeled off my lips as I stress and fret over them with my fingernails already coated with a bad spray paint job of dried blood. Each healing wound on my lips etches across like a discolored design waiting to be removed and refigured again. It’s the first thing people notice about me. I’ve learned to live with that.

For a person who is alone most of the time, I do not deal with ostracization well. It’s merely the difference between thinking I am different and setting myself outside compared to knowing I am different and not a part of the group.

I can sit at a lunch table alone and not feel insecure. I can watch people in my life go out together and have fun without me and not get jealous or spiteful. I can do things that kids my age don’t understand and watch them stare at me as I do them. I can handle that without giving up. I can talk in class and hear myself being unheard and not get embarrassed. I can be singled out in front of a mass of people, speak in front of hundreds, see them see me, and not be scared. I am a strong and truly independent woman.

But when someone I love is speaking, and I can’t follow a single word because I don’t understand how someone could think that way? It’s the most lonely feeling in the world. When the people around me talk future, and I can’t see myself in any of them. When my friends tell me it’s hard to spend time with me because I have so many responsibilities. When I just get raised eyebrows and an averted glance when I explain my tattoos. These give me the sense that I am an anomaly in this world. Someone incapable of connecting because I can’t see anything to connect with the way the world is.

There is nothing worse than feeling like the first apple on the tree to fall. Alone and unknowing, nobody understands what you’re going through. Until they go through it themselves, then they want sympathy and acknowledgment. I have little compassion for those who don’t understand, and that just happens to be most people.

“I have little compassion for those who don’t understand, and that just happens to be most people.””

But when I reach into the dark abyss of the “world” and “me” that I’ve separated everything into and slapped a name on, and a hand reaches out to connect. I am elated. My organs are no longer in my body; they are weightless ghosts dancing beside me as I walk. My hands and eyebrows move as I speak because my body is excited to be a part of something. My chest expands to make room for my lungs, and the knots in my shoulders release. My body is my own and not a conduit for stress and responsibility to carry me through the world.

I am love and life regardless of whether I’m an anomaly or not.