treat me like a mimosa pudica or i’ll wilt

Tbh I kinda’ like being alone. It’s not always out of choice, but out of necessity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s nice meeting new people and hanging out with friends.

But… people can also be really exhausting. Careless. Fickle. Insensitive.

Blame it on a shitty childhood or a series of flaky, unreliable individuals, but for me it takes a concerted amount of energy to interact. When I don’t sense that energy being reciprocated, I just feel over it. I’d rather not.

It’s not even that I’m introverted. I just hate the emotional contagion, the performance of it all really. It’s the wondering if I’m connecting with others or if I’m just a means to an end. Or, the trying to decipher whether people really care or if they’re just being polite—like when someone asks you how your day is.

I was always a sensitive kid, sensitive to people’s wants and emotions. To survive, I’ve been primed to anticipate others’ needs before they’d identified them for themselves. That’s what happens when you grow up walking on eggshells. Others can sense that. It’s like blood in the water, attracting the worst type of people you can imagine.

At some point, I bought into the idea that the price of admission for love was being available at all times, being willing to pick up the pieces and make other people’s lives easier. If I were just more kind and empathetic, somehow the emotional wasteland and volatility I’ve been surrounded by all my life could just be overcome. Someday, someone out there would return the favor. In reality, it was a shit plan borne out of a wishful childhood healing fantasy.

Vulnerability: it’s never been safe. I know it’s not safe by definition. There’s a reason why cats don’t readily let you pet their stomachs—leaving yourself open to attacks goes against our survival instincts. The twisted part, though, is those closest to us can also be a threat.

We live in a trauma landscape.

Parents, society, colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, you name it—it always seems to be right around the corner. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

The world is full of people with unmet needs. It’s a war zone out here, guarding myself against psychic attacks, manipulation, and control. Oftentimes, it feels like I’m trying to keep my head above water, but I’m someone else’s life raft.

While I’m out here toiling away and nourishing others, I can’t water my own garden. It’s just me, myself, and I—famished and bereft—battling the usurpers of my time, waiting for the moment I can finally set down my shield.

The people I thought I couldn’t live without—people I desperately clung to and poured into—yeah, they’re all gone. Poof.

It used to make me feel inadequate. Now, I only feel relief. I pray for more of these interlopers to disperse and see themselves out before they cause harm. It’s the kind of satisfaction you get from a dwindling Facebook friends list. How did I ever think that I needed you?

By comparison, solitude’s not such a big deal. I can chill out naked. Be the main character in my own story. Give myself the grace to do nothing. Release my sadness and resentment.

Solitude is the ultimate euphoria. My heart is light, and my mind is clear. There are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives to guard against. It’s when I feel the closest to myself. If that’s not divine, I don’t know what is.

I can’t pretend I have all my shit figured out, though. Half of the time, I don’t even understand what I’m supposed to be working towards amidst the relentless cacophony of demands by forces outside myself. I’m wistful for a future where I can outwardly be me without all the violence—without my autonomy feeling like a transgression. I’ve come to accept that this road will most likely be paved in complete solitude.

The thing is…I don’t want to have to be alone all the time just to be myself.

Maybe I’ve been surrounded by the wrong people. Maybe I’m a sap, or maybe it’s just the basic human need for connection—but, I need that oxytocin. I want sappy. I want gentle. I want to be nourished and loved. I just have one condition.

Approach me sensitively—or don’t approach me at all.

Treat me like a mimosa pudica, or I’ll wilt.

Let me be sensitive in peace.

If you’re not willing to treat me with care, then, at the very least, keep your mess out of my garden. Tend to your own. This shield is weary. I can’t keep holding up this fortress around my heart. I choose to be free.

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