In truth, I think I’ve always been wired for vulnerability. I think that was exactly what my peers saw in me, what made them attack. Maybe my vulnerability made them feel uncomfortable. Maybe suffocating me made them feel strong and in control. Eventually, I had to learn to hold it in, to exert control, myself. To project a cold, unfeeling exterior to make myself less prone to catching attention. In some ways, that worked. Most kids started to bore of tormenting me when it seemed all I did was agree with their taunts. Only those who were in the most pain themselves continued to poke and prod at my outer shell. Maybe they knew well enough that I was only hiding my pain – that I was dying inside – because that was their reality, too.
I couldn’t keep it up, though. A year or two of repression resulted in the most obvious of explosions. I spent the last quarter of eighth grade sobbing openly at school. By then, many of my classmates had matured out of their cruelness. They felt bad for me. But they couldn’t really do anything to help me. My need for love had destroyed me. Because I was looking for it in the also wounded. And truthfully, not many eighth graders could process my intensity, wounded or not. (And we all are, to some extent.) They couldn’t understand the deep, bold love that I had always yearned for. A love that even many adults struggle to give and receive.
I don’t know why I’ve always had this – at times, excruciating – longing for deep, soulmate love. I’ve looked for it in friendships as well as in romantic love. The kind of connection that feels almost otherworldly. And in some friendships, I have brushed against it. The vulnerability I believe it takes to feel that kind of connection. These friendships were often ones that had the longest, bumpiest roads. We’ve fought and hurt each other. We’ve been through things that break most friendships. And yet... as adults, we’ve found a level of connection and trust that we wanted as children, but maybe weren’t entirely prepared for. We were the most wounded ones. It took time for us to understand how to love each other. To be there for each other. We’re still always learning.
In the last few years, I’ve been afraid to say what I want most of all. Those who I’ve known the longest, they already know. And I’ve expressed it publicly, too. When I talk about Jane. But I've kept it at a distance from current me. I’ve danced around the words. Because it makes some people uncomfortable. I want a soulmate. A romantic soulmate. Someone who can understand and love my wounded inner child. Someone who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and bare their soul. Someone who believes in the same things I do. Someone who gets me on a level that nobody else has entirely reached. I want this, as I’ve always wanted this. From the age where I can remember wanting anything besides the love and attention of my parents. I don’t care if this sounds impossible to some of you. I was made with this yearning for a reason. Same as I was made to put my thoughts into words. To tell my soul truth through both fiction and fact.
But I want vulnerable and deep friendships, too. It is a classic introvert trait to want deep conversations over small talk. To feel more drained from a conversation about the day-to-day than about the core of who we are as humans. But we need to have safe relationships in order to do this. We need people who understand and relate to the desire to talk about what’s under the surface. And not everybody is in a place in their lives when they can talk like that. Some people probably never will be. And it’s hard for us – the most introverted – to feel seen and heard if we don’t have those safe relationships.
I think that’s why I have been writing these long entries again. I’ve come out of another period of repression. And I’m still struggling not to fall back into that hole, where no one can hear you because you're too afraid to speak. But I feel the need to reach out – to call out – to those like-minded people out there. The naturally vulnerable. Or those who have finally realized that nothing is real if you can’t be who you truly are with the world. Or at least with your soul tribe. Start there. And if you can't find your soul tribe, just know that you aren't alone. Speak your truth, even if you have to start with whispers.