Back when I had depression, one thing I did was detach from the world. From everyone, except a very, very few family members, and about two friends. Instead, I just curled up in a proverbial ball (sometimes I curled up in an actual ball) and hid away from everyone. I was sick, and I couldn’t deal with the world, and so I withdrew to the extreme.
I actually developed extreme social anxiety too. I remember once being out shopping, and a random boy started chatting to me, and sweat started to pour off me in such rivulets (dripping down my back, my legs, my arms) that it actually looked like I had wet my pants. Didn’t matter whether I’d known someone for two minutes or two decades, I didn’t want to engage with them, I didn’t know how to, and I would have extreme physiological and emotional responses to such situations.
The reasons and scope and extent of my social detachment are a story for another day. But let it suffice to say that my world became very, very small. Immediate family, two friends, that’s it. Everyone else I completely cut out. (Which, I will freely and honestly tell you, is one of my biggest regrets. I lost a heap of wonderful people from my life. When I Got Better and tried to reconnect, a bunch of them totally understood and graciously welcomed me back into their lives with open arms. Others did not, which I found very difficult to accept at the time, but which I came to understand. It was gut-wrenching, but eventually I was able to accept their decision with love and understanding. Albeit still with a wish that one day in the future, we will somehow become friends again…)
So, now that I am Well, and have been for some time now (about three years maybe? Four? Either way, it makes me happy and proud and still a little bit sad). But despite all this time being Well, social connections are still something that I have to actively work on. I have to actively cultivate them and nurture them and occasionally force myself into them. It still doesn’t come entirely naturally to me.
However, I was struck by an image the other day. I had spent three hours having coffee and awesome conversation with my Dad on New Years Day, then the next day had a similar length coffee and similarly awesome conversation with another awesome friend, then the next day had got this amazing email from my best female friend who lives faraway. All of these interactions made me absolutely glow in my insides. They filled me up. They made me so very, very happy.
And I was struck by this image of string. Sometimes I feel like I am tying string between myself and those around me that I love. Connecting us. Giving us a relationship. Positioning myself with reference to the other. And I realised that I have so many strings now, connecting me to the world, and to people and to life. More strings than I have had in at least ten years. Maybe even more strings that I have ever had.
And I am so heart-burstingly grateful for them. At one stage, it would have made me feel panicked and trapped and burdened. And lost.
Now it is what fills me up, and makes me so very, very found, so very much here. I don’t define myself by my relationships, but they certainly help. And there are so many amazing beings out there who I am connected to and who are feeding and lighting up my heart-strings, as I hope I do the same with their strings.
So now I am tied up and tied down and attached. String is my new thing. And I love it.