It Is Human to Struggle

By Bre D’Alessio SouthMarch 18, 2024

I read something recently that sounded so normal but was rooted in a sense of feeling abnormal for so long.

A woman referred to her partner as someone who treated her like a fully functional human. A fully functional person amidst her anxiety, and all the piles of flaws she buried herself beneath.

For the first time, in her adult life, she didn’t have to defend her sensitivity or the way she reacted. In short, he treated her like a person.

How simple but so loaded at the same time. 

The idea of someone treating us exactly as we are. To let us be without adding a definition or reasoning behind it. That’s the opposite of gaslighting someone, right?

My husband often stands on the other side of each emotional breakdown or mental unraveling.

He doesn’t lament about the mess. Or complain that this would be a whole lot easier if I just didn’t let that wheel of intrusive thoughts get in the way of my thinking.

Those are the conversations I think he’s having sometimes when I dislike myself the most.

Anyone with anxiety will tell you how ridiculously silly it is, and how it doesn’t make any logical sense. But the twisted part is that anxiety feels like logic.

And we know you know we know this. 

But it’s like that switch in your garage that is permanently taped over, forced to the on position. Flicked upwards indefinitely. Don’t touch written in marker as a constant reminder.

He can read it in my eyes, the way my face scrunches, like when you’re trying hard not to cry. It feels like you’re holding your breath underwater and counting how long you can last.

And you would happily refuse to exhale so long as no one saw you unfold. He’s able to touch, even when he knows the warning signs. It’s peeling the tape back when you were told to just leave it be.

You can only hold your breath for two minutes underwater. That’s the amount of time your body gives you to find air. Just two minutes before your body gives up.

Two minutes of a panic attack often feels like two hours. And two minutes of sadness can feel never-ending.

Your partner (friend, companion, therapist) knows even after the panic subsides, even after you’ve gotten through the bad patch, you’ll still feel the effects of it. The way your lungs would gasp for air once you breach the water’s surface.

It’s life, our life, and this is what happens when the wires become short-circuited.

He’s not complaining about how the plugs don’t fit into the walls properly. He doesn’t shake the cords hoping they reboot back to a normal existence. He knows they were always a little worn and their outages can be unpredictable.

After over a decade of not knowing how to explain it, and recognizing that explanations weren’t mandatory, he accepts those emotional waves just as kindly as the shore accepts its tides.

Yes, to be treated exactly like a human.

To have someone just let you exist and hold out a hand when you’re a little too close to the edge.

Kindness could never be overrated in moments like this one. Because sometimes when you’re so far under all you want to be reminded of is how totally human you are. Of how human it is to struggle and to cope.

People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (1)

  1. Shelby

    This brought tears to my eyes. In a good way.
    I just recently got back into a relationship with someone I had been with before. This time is different. This time it’s pure love. He treats me as if I am a human. These words are some of what I wish to express to him. Thank you.

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