known sickness

When I was a younger sort of girl, I frequented the camp circuit throughout the summer. If I was home for more than five consecutive days, my sanity became questionable. I loved adventure. I loved meeting the new. I scoffed at those who were homesick. I didn't need my mom or my safety blanket or the chirping of a certain kind of cricket in my windowsill. Homesickness is for the weak and wobbly.

October was difficult for my older sort of girl self. I spent a good part of every weekend praying for people somewhere else, dreaming about the memories they were making, the laughs that they were sharing, the joy they were creating. I distracted myself as best I could. I surrounded myself with laughter and food and beautiful sights and even some hefty homework assignments. But as much as I tried, I was plagued with the longing to laugh with someone who has also shared my tears, borne my exasperation, and held my hand when words failed. Laughter is magnified with it knows pain.

This longing feeling gnawed at me through every weekend and into the weeks in an unsettling way. I was happy in my new home. I was thankful for the blessings of house, and school, and work, and friends. I didn't want to return home--home is full of its own challenges and its own problems. I wasn't sick for home. But I was sick.

I was sick to be known.

Known-sickness is the heartbreak I feel when I long to be with someone who just knows. It isn't the need to be in a certain place, but is the need to say four words (like, "remember loud laugh boy...") and receive a perceptive nod in return. The void can happen anywhere--your hometown, your college dorm, your new home. Its struck me in places I've lived for ages in moments of acute loneliness.

Feeling unknown tears at my inner self. I question if I am knowable, if I am worthy to be known, if I am inaccessible to my friends. I believe that it is known-sickness that drives us to unhealthy relationships and excessive hours in darkened rooms. If I can't be fully known, I want to maintain a fa├žade of known-ness or give up trying. 

I don't have a cure or remedy for known-sickness. It comes and goes in my life. This time, it eased with an acknowledgment of its existence, explaining it to those who know me and those who don't, and in creating new definition of known. Knowing me is not understanding the abyss of my emotional landscape. Knowing me, knowing you, is acknowledging that we probably won't journey through all things together, but we can love one another anyway: acknowledging the limitations of knowing, embracing what we do know, and creating a new known together.


Juli said...

You are not alone my friend - I'm glad to know there is someone else out there who feels like I do amidst the craziness that is Duke Div. It's hard (and sometime exhausting) being in that strange space between old friends and new but I love your honesty and hope. Keep it comin'.

Amanda said...

Alaina...you are such a gem. Thank you for giving me words to the way I have been feeling for the last year and a half! I am going to re-post this if you don't mind.

Gretchen said...

You put into words so beautifully what I feel every time we move! And yes, it always happens around October - the excitement of getting to the new place is over; I've met some nice people but it is still somewhat superficial; I don't want to go back to the old but it is time to wait.