Hold Your Own Hand: A Bedtime Story

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I’ve felt alone for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t matter how many humans are around, whether I’ve excused myself from the crowd, have a close interpersonal relationship, or not; I am always alone. One hundred people or zero, it feels the same. Rather than a physical manifestation, it’s more a state of mind.

Different, odd, strange–call me what you like–I have existed as an outsider my entire life, sometimes looking in, sometimes feeling trapped and looking out, sometimes not looking at all, but always alone.

It is often said that we are born alone and we die alone, but for some strange reason, people who say that leave out the middle. Perhaps it’s too painful to face the truth. Because the truth is, we’re alone for the middle, as well.

Some fill their time with activities, and their lives with people; surrounding themselves with things they believe to be the opposite of alone to numb the sensation of solitude.

Some stay in relationships that don’t make them happy to avoid loneliness, never realizing that feeling lonely in a relationship is the most painful kind of lonely there is.

I felt alone as a child, during my teenage years, during my young adulthood, and the feeling remains as I enter middle age. I thought by now I might have shaken it, that I might have discovered the secret to finally shedding the cloak over my soul that seems to be keeping me at a distance, but it never happens.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels alone. I also recognize the glorious absurdity of wondering if I’m alone in my feelings of feeling alone.

As a little kid, I would sometimes clasp together my hands while feeling scared in bed at night, pretending someone else was holding my hand, because it (falsely) made me feel safe.

But as pathetic as that sounds, there’s beauty and truth in holding one’s own hand.

Beauty, because even when truth may look ugly on the surface, it’s real and pure inside, and that’s beautiful.

Truth, because even when a different person is holding your hand, you can still feel lonely–you can still be alone.

I sleep alone every night now. I somewhat sheepishly admit to occasionally holding my own hand to self-soothe, but more often, I pretend someone is hugging me as I fall asleep. It helps me fall asleep faster because I pretend I’m safe. I pretend I’m not alone.

I pretend.

We all pretend.

Sleep well.

 

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