four women looking down and holding each other with a comforting hand on one another's shoulders.

I am going to share something profound that happened to me last week.

No matter what I did and where I went, I felt a glass ball in the pit of my stomach releasing filthy grey exhaust from within me and out into the world.

From the height of my brain, up in the heavens, the view last week wasn’t great. I could hardly make out the landscape down on earth. It all looked very chaotic — too chaotic to even begin to navigate.

My body — tired, weak, heavy, collapsed. That and a drawn-out cold rendered me helpless in the face of life’s demands.

Breathing deeply didn’t seem like an option.

About mid-week, I felt utterly stuck in my helplessness. I didn’t know why or what to do, and I feared speaking to anyone because I didn’t know what kind of help or support I could ask for, and I didn’t want to just complain.

Wanting to find a way to move on, I went out to a coffee shop to try and get some work done — productivity as a remedy for stress, perhaps. I took a small table near the bar and asked for a decaf cappuccino with soy milk — we all have our coffee quirks, don’t we?

I order coffee because, for some reason, it gives me motivation to work. It’s probably cultural conditioning from having lived in so many coffee-centric places. But caffeine creates unnecessary jitters and cow’s milk makes me sick to my stomach. Thus, I always order a decaf cappuccino with soy milk.

Coffee in hand, I opened my laptop expecting to get some work done, but I couldn’t begin. I began to spontaneously pour my heart out onto “Notes.” Just getting it all out onto the page — making space for whatever it was I was thinking and feeling.

The thoughts were toxic. Expressions of anger, hatred toward myself and toward life overall. Really hearing them, I heard the voice of a five-year-old girl, who, no matter how much she screamed in protest, no one really saw her. I felt so sad I began to cry. Yes, in the middle of the cafe. Yes, it was embarrassing!

The next morning, I was blessed with a phone call from a therapist. She really wanted to know how I was doing, and I said I was doing terribly. I cried my eyes out. She listened, and she understood. She validated my feelings. The relief I felt from being able to be the five-year-old girl saying, “I’m having a hard time” — and being heard — made all the difference for me.

In the days that followed, I realized for the first time that I have been holding the belief about my life, since I was very young, that I am alone. And this belief affects me even in the presence of good friends and people who truly love and understand me. I have had several opportunities in the last few days to catch myself red-handed when I feel alone and I am not. To mourn the lonely feeling. To let it go and to embrace the opportunity to feel supported and connected.

Going through life knowing I am not alone — even if I am strong and independent — makes all the difference. So, I am dedicating this week to reminding myself that life is not sad and lonely. That I don’t have to prove that I can look out for myself. I know I can. And I know I don’t have to do it alone.

If anyone feels the same way (no matter what country in which you live), I want you to know that you, too, are not alone.