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Why Getting Close to New People Is Scary

You can’t actually know me unless you know my past. But I don’t want you to know my past. I’m afraid if you do, you’ll see me differently. I’m afraid you’ll think that’s who I am rather than who I was. But I need you to know because without all that stuff, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

It’s hard because the new people who enter my life don’t know why I am the way I am. They don’t know that in the past I wouldn’t have taken their jokes so lightheartedly. I wouldn’t have been able to talk to them the way I do now because I’d confuse them with my back and forth thoughts and feelings. It’s interesting to watch myself interact with new people and see myself so comfortable, laughing and being myself.

But how am I supposed to pretend like my past doesn’t exist? What if we decide to go somewhere and we all get ready together? What will you think about the marks on my thighs? Do I warn you before or try my best to hide it? Do I risk letting you think I’m unstable? And how do I explain to you that there is still pain in my heart and the marks are not completely healed and honestly, I don’t know if they ever will be? How do I tell you that the insecurities (now less than ever) still persist because all of my life I was told I wasn’t good enough?

I don’t want your pity. I don’t want you to think I expect you to hold me up. I don’t. It may be hard to believe, but I have worked so incredibly hard to figure out my mind and my body, so I can recognize what I need and when I need it. Really. But I’m not perfect. I don’t know if I ever will be. So yes, there will be times where my anxiety is so debilitating I can’t leave my bed from the constant panic attacks. And yes, there will be times where my depression reoccurs and my mind is numb and my heart aches constantly. I can’t promise it won’t happen. It’s hard to figure out if I should tell you in advance or if I should wait until it happens. I’m afraid if I wait, you will witness my little changes and think I am simply “overreacting,” but at the same time I am afraid if I tell you in advance, you will assume I am unstable and “crazy.”

I’m just human. I can’t pretend like the mental health issues I faced in the past don’t exist and I can’t pretend like they don’t affect me. I promise I want to tell you about it. I hate hiding it from you. But I also don’t want to lose another friend who is afraid I am someone that I’m not. Mental illness doesn’t mean “crazy.” Mental illness doesn’t mean unstable. Mental illness means struggle, as we all do. I hope you see me as more than that.

Getty image by fizkes