I’m very good at hiding. Videogames were always good for that, head down and lose yourself in someone else’s vision. Books often, though not so much recently – something engrossing, interesting, colourful. Escapism. Podcasts. Gadgets. Porn, I guess, to a degree. The internet, limitless timesink that it is, packed with useless wonders.

Hiding gets you nowhere, unless of course you want to live your whole life in the dark, out of sight out of attention. Especially if the attention you get otherwise makes you feel awkward or made fun of, lessened somehow by the misunderstanding of others, the failure of others to buy in, to value, to see what you see. Hiding avoids that.

But, eventually, you can’t hide because you’re not 12 years old any more. You are your own person, in the world, trying to make your life mean something – except that what you want it to mean is shadowed by misunderstanding. Surely no one could understand what you feel, how you are, what you want to express and why. No one has so far.

It isn’t that you’ve been mistreated, you’ve just been misunderstood. Perhaps slightly petulantly you almost wish you had been mistreated, that there was a bruised skeleton in some dark closet, that you could find a concrete and reasonable body of evidence for why you still act, still hide, still fold like a schoolchild. But this only makes you feel guilty, feel unworthy, feel bad.

You meet people, of course, many who feel as you do or have ambitions similar to yours, or think sometimes in a way not unlike the way you have always thought. It’s exciting, it’s affirming, but it’s never enough and it can’t give you what you need to stop hiding, to become you and bear your heart for the impact of those slings and arrows. You are, crucially, still misunderstood where it matters.

And you find that one person who really understands, who sees you, who knows you and who supports without hesitation the way you are and how you express this. And you go a million miles together, you break barriers, you discover undiscovered territory. You challenge the old and you welcome the new and you create and you are understood.

Then. At a point where you understand yourself, accept yourself, value your self, you are misunderstood once again, by the people who have always misunderstood you, and despite knowing this you burn again because you had hope that if you understood yourself they might follow, they might finally change. And you see that they are hiding, too, that you’ve been taught how to hide. How to escape.

But you resolve that won’t be it for you. Some where, some one will always fail to understand you. But you have the understanding of the one person who matters anymore. You have your own understanding, though you still question sometimes, you still doubt, you still reach for reasons – only to finally remember that you are what you are, to accept you. To understand.

What else can you do. You replace those who cannot understand with the one who can only understand. You accept those that understand and that they will always fail to understand, accept that they are who they are, and that this is no bad judgement on either of you. And you accept that if one person understands you, truly, wholly and without reserve, then you are blessed.

You accept that you have found what amounts to a miracle, and that you can’t find miracles in puddles. On featureless streets. Under meaningless similes. You have your miracle and there are no other miracles, and looking for them is just hiding, again, just escaping again. And you see that you are still hiding. And you ask yourself why. And you must never stop asking. And you walk out, into the light. And you say, ‘I will be taken seriously’.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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