I’m an Alien.

“Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won’t tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they become the worse type of person. Unfortunately, they end up hurting themselves in the long run. They don’t want to hurt other people. It is against their very nature. They want to make amends and undo the wrong they did. Their life is a wave of highs and lows. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings. They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing, and the ones that often become activists for the broken hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved.”
Shannon L. Alder

For the majority of my life, I have felt alienated.

I can recall moments on the playground, unable to navigate complicated friendships and instead seeking solace in my books. I attempted to trick myself into thinking this was my choice – to stick out like a thumb tack, alone and propped against the brick wall of my elementary school; re-reading the same sentences over and over again to maintain composure and grasp a semblance of invisibility. The truth was that I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to spend time with me. I tried to maintain a friendship in which I only saw the friend during the summer. By the school year’s start, she seemed to forget I existed. Every single year. I became tired of pretending I didn’t know the girl who I’d shared midnight laughs and Dollar Store candy with. Words on a page were safer than any human contact.

Before I understood that normality wasn’t a necessity, I used my preteen fingers to claw around, searching for stability, acceptance, and understanding. My own mother was strapped with stress that couldn’t be added to, so I often suffered in silence. My mother did the only thing she knew to do in response to a sensitive child…she left me alone. I was allowed to ride my bike to and from the library of my tiny town in Illinois. Sometimes, if it was a special day, I could stop at the DQ after retrieving my freshly-ordered literature. I learned sugary foods triggered the feeling of love, and for that, I went through a chubby phase for several years. The other pleasure chemicals were released while reading books. Subsequently, many summers were spent inside, reading at Speedy Gonzalez frequency ( a Goosebumps book a day) and checking the back of the book for other titles I could order. I moved onto Fear Street a year later. I had a fixation for darkness, for I couldn’t verbalize or connect that I had my own darkness inside of me yet to be released. I learned to cry until my throat ached, a flood of peace following thereafter. I did not learn to regulate my emotions.

In 8th grade, I found momentary acceptance in a crowd I didn’t belong to. These people had parents who were addicted to drugs. The peers learned the coping mechanisms of their parents, and were participating in things too mature for their age. I finally had a place to release this darkness. I threw myself into macabre literature and poetry. Anything below the status quo spoke to me in a way as if to say “you are not alone.” I could never measure up to the demands that normalcy placed onto me, so I rebelled instead. I learned my emotions were burdens to those who didn’t understand (which were the mass majority), so I repressed through cutting and solitary crying spells.

I remember feeling a comfort in my alien nature when I became a Christian. I’m not so sure now that Christianity was what made me feel better, but the fact that I finally found friendship that gave back. Christianity always created an emotional conflict inside of me — for one moment, I could feel I was god’s daughter, perfect in his sight. However, a convicting Sunday morning message would leave me feeling like chewed up bubble gum on the bottom of a shoe. I could never regulate the two. So I seesawed between loving and hating myself, sometimes simultaneously. Most people didn’t even know I was going through this, for to confess it would alienate me further. I also thought feeling perpetual guilt was a healthy symptom of heavy conviction, so I didn’t think to try and correct these cognitive distortions. If I was ever aloof as a child while apologizing or meeting consequences for my actions, my mother would often unintentionally use a certain tone or words to manipulate my emotions and give her the reaction she thought I should have: shame and guilt. I learned through this that every negative experience was associated with these same two traits. This made it difficult for me to bounce back after a personal defeat.

Adulthood has a way of bringing on certainty, or at least the illusion of it. Things finally seemed to be falling into place by my early 20s – a stable job, a husband who appeared to be good for me, and minimal financial struggle. Following my heart into foreign missions put a major strain on my finances. Though I felt connected to Thailand and Asian culture more than my own country of the United States, I couldn’t linger there for as long as I’d like due to income. I returned to the states, and the alienation seemed to return as well. Marital issues in the midst of intense involvement with my church was enough to make me feel like that little girl with the bookmarked Goosebumps again. I did just enough to “fit in,” but I never felt connected.

Shortly thereafter, alienation by stillbirth joined my many foes.

Some of this alienation I pursue by myself — not having energy to exist in a world without my daughter, staying up all night watching Netflix on the couch, unable to go to sleep in a bed that once held my pregnant body. Isolation was also placed on me by society and PTSD — expectations for me to return to work before I was ready, flippant sentimental quotations and half-hearted advice, pressure from my husband to have sex when I couldn’t even think of getting out of bed, guilt for my rage toward god and anything to do with that belief, anger for the abandonment I felt, nauseated any time I walked into my bathroom and remembered all the blood on the floor, haunted with images of her paper skin ripping as the stress of her tiny, formed bones poked through its barrier, the moment of  giving her back to the nurse for the last time echoing over and over until I was driven to insanity by my grief. I wanted to die, and I’m still not sure that’s gone away. I think when you lose something so precious to you, death is always a welcoming thought. My alienation continues — a mother with PTSD returning from the battlefield of loss. I lost a significant piece of my innocence, which I will never regain. I can’t pursue anything significant in my life without the echo of it possibly failing.

The next phase of alienation is a time I still linger in. I was abandoned by my husband, and left to deal with my grief alone. The fear I clutched in childhood was now made a reality with his absence. No one is permanent. While object permanence is something we learn as children, I always understood this didn’t carry over to relationships. However, being an idealist, I always hoped for more. The rise and fall of expectations verses reality was debilitating.

My belief system no longer brought me comfort. It tormented me instead. Each time I couldn’t agree or believe what I was reading in the Bible or hearing in church, I felt the voice underneath it all telling me what a horrible Christian I was. When I could no longer connect to what I felt was god, the voices in my head from Christians expecting me to persevere were deafening. I would be tortured with the thoughts of Christians who went through far worse, and could somehow bounce back. Why wasn’t I that strong? Why was there yet another thing wrong with me that couldn’t be fixed? Why couldn’t I pull it together?

Friends lessened the frequency of interaction while I went through this time. I don’t blame them, and not all of them disappeared. Their absence is understood to me. It is difficult to comfort a hurting soul when there aren’t words or actions to make things better. I myself am guilty of this. And I’m sure I pushed others away, for I knew my own burden would curl its adult fingers around the neck of the comforting friend and pull them under with me. I didn’t wish this pain on anyone else. I had grown comfortable in my alien nature, so it wasn’t anything I didn’t expect. The choices I made might’ve sped up this isolation as well. I’d grown so used to harboring these feelings and emotions inside of me, that I didn’t tremble at the thought of being alone. Not for a little while, anyway.

I’m reaching a new age of alienation. This is the alienation of living in the South and no longer believing in god as a being. If Christian friends ask me to explain this, I’m left fumbling for words and looking like a cult-following idiot. I’m still in the beginnings of this transition, but it has been just as difficult as the others. It’s difficult for me to accept invitations to talk or hang out if I know the person will use that time as a way to witness to me, as the person who has “fallen away” or is “back sliding” from god. I also develop social anxiety at the thought of explaining, as when I became a Christian at 15, I didn’t have all the answers — and yet I’m expected to have all the answers if I’m leaving the Christian faith. I don’t. Not at all. There are times where I even doubt if this is the right thing to do. Though meditation and healing crystals offer me more comfort than any organized religion, I am left alone in this journey. Christianity has the wonderful appeal of immediately connecting you with a support system. Not so when you are exiting the Church. I had someone in my life who kept pursuing me and checking on me until I told him I wouldn’t be attending a Bible study anymore; a Bible study he held at his house. Suddenly, I never heard from this friend again. I suppose I was checked off of the list of ‘people to pray for’ and introduced into the pile of ‘ will revisit when she reaches out for help again.’ There is no built-in support system when you say you don’t believe in god as a being. If anything, there is a wall of opposition waiting on the other side.

I have never felt more alone, in many ways. I’m an alien belonging to the highly sensitive, young divorcee, bereaved mother, and former Christian mothership. I know this place is not my home. I understand that I am a starseed, which makes things more challenging. I feel as if I have been tossed with the waves of this life — constantly searching for the shore of stability, yet never quite finding it. For this, I find myself increasingly tired and homesick for a place I long to return.

Above all, I desire, without any doubt or misconception, to be understood to my eternal core.

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New Beginnings

“Living with him is like being told a perpetual story: his mind is the biggest, most imaginative I have ever met. I could live in its growing countries forever.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

It started quite oddly, really, about a year ago.
In the midst of an impending divorce, I joined a dating website. I fooled myself into thinking the dates would somehow rid me of the emptiness I felt as my life slowly collapsed. Let me clarify – I joined the dating website for friends only. However, I quickly realized this particular website didn’t accommodate such mature themes. I found myself frustrated when people thought I meant I desired a friends with benefits relationship. Was it not enough just to be friends with someone of the opposite sex?
In my dating profile, I’d quoted the movie Fight Club. “You’ve met me a strange time in my life.” I cited Tyler Durden as being the source of this quote. I received a message from KyleChaos. “The narrator quotes that; not Tyler Durden.” And that was it. The comment piqued my interest, as it was clear he was also a fan of the film. I replied something along the lines of “Oops, you’re right! I’ll change it right now. Good catch.” A couple of weeks went by before this user graced my inbox with their presence again. Numbers were exchanged after prolonged conversation, and pretty soon I was meeting Kyle for the first time, in my apartment that felt lonelier than ever before.
I liked Kyle. I was attracted to him from the beginning. It felt like there was this chemistry I couldn’t quite put into words. This man was intelligent, dripping with witty sarcasm, and provided me the best conversation I’d had in months. We watched a movie on Netflix, and then he was gone.
The second time, we watched another movie. Dahmer, which is still an inside joke between us to this day.
He told me he did feel a connection to me, but he didn’t want to date. I told him I understood, and was the same. However, my loneliness soon crippled me into a dysfunctional relationship. Kyle met my ex once when he was visiting, and Kyle told me that day that Jason wasn’t a good person. I ignored it. Jason didn’t like me talking to Kyle, even as a friend, so I kept the conversation few and far between. After the second time I kicked Jason out, Kyle was looking for a place to live. I offered him the possibility of being my roommate, but again, my pathetic need for affirmation trumped a healthier situation, and I invited Jason back into my house. Kyle told me how it was a mistake, and how I would regret it. He was right. But at the time, I fought it. And Kyle and I didn’t talk for a period, again.
When Jason and I finally broke up for good, low and behold Kyle was looking for a roommate after just moving into an apartment. Not able to afford my current living situation, I happily obliged. Kyle offered the contingency of this: “as long as you don’t develop feelings for me. Nothing will ever happen between us.” I told him that while I had feelings for him, I would never let it get in the way of our friendship.
Crazy, right? Willingly moving into a housing relationship with someone I have feelings for who didn’t reciprocate them? But somehow, by all accounts… I had the hope that he would come around, eventually. And I didn’t necessarily want a relationship at the time, so I could be patient.
Our nights were usually the same – congregate in Kyle’s room, watch a various choosing of shows (The Office, Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, Hell’s Kitchen, to name a few) and talk about all kinds of things. The plethora of conversation in each sitting never ceased to surprise me. We could go from talking about The Universe, to meditation, to favorite memories from being overseas, to performing random quotes from Fargo. My feelings grew, but I hid them away with two locks and a key. A part of me was terrified to have such feelings for someone else, as the last person I offered these to completely annihilated my heart.
I don’t know when the dynamic changed, really. I could say it was the day we had an argument, and he sent me a link to a youtube video apologizing for being a jerk at the time. The song was I Never Meant To Hurt You, and I melted with every word. It made reference to feelings, and I knew he did care about me in that way. But Kyle was scared of labels, and I taught myself patience.
Kyle and I celebrated Halloween in New Orleans. I didn’t understand the affect alcohol would have on me after not drinking for a long time. I made the mistake of drinking shots, and Kyle had to take care of me for the rest of the night. I am not proud of this, but I want to reiterate what this man did – at one point, I was puking in the bathroom. I couldn’t muster the courage to get up. A few girls tried to come in the restroom as I laid my head on the porcelain altar of regret. He stopped them from coming in, and waited for me to feel well enough to help me stand up. I later threw up in a bar, and they told Kyle he had to get me out of there. He defended me, saying he would as soon as I was well enough to get up. There was a man cat-calling me and making me uncomfortable. Kyle got him thrown out of a bar and armed his pepper spray when the guy tried to come near me again. We lost the parking garage where we parked the car, and he tugged me along as I was whining about the cold and eventually got us back to the car without having a nervous breakdown. While visiting my family, he sat beside my ill uncle on the couch and engaged him in conversation for over three hours. I texted him, offering him a way out to sit next to me, but he said he didn’t mind.
It was after this trip – after seeing me at my worst in months – that he decided we were a team, and there is no reason we shouldn’t label the relationship. I was ecstatic, humbled, and comforted.
I remember the first time I knew I loved him. It was a trip we took to Burgess Falls. I noticed we both followed the same pattern of behavior, without prompting the other. We both went off to the side of the trail and took pictures. We connected with nature by taking our time, while whirs of families raced past us to get to the end of the trail. This was someone I could explore the world with.
Nothing is ever perfect. Kyle is more thinking-minded, and I am motivated more by feelings. This can cause misunderstandings and disagreements. But you know the greatest difference between Kyle and most guys? He will research what it means for me to be an INFP. He will try his hardest to understand my feeling, the F in the Myers-Briggs. He has looked up my life path number, zodiac, and natal chart, all with the desire to understand me better. I have always done this in relationships, but rarely has it been reciprocated. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve the relationship. I am ever thankful for this.

Meet Kyle, my life partner.

kyle2kyle