While my cousins were running around, playing tag and pretend and hide and seek- I was sat with my nose in a book. When my family went on vacations- I was sat with my nose in a book. While my peers were listening to the teacher’s lecture- I was sat with my nose in a book. Whenever I had a chance to read, I was reading. When I shouldn’t be reading, I was reading. If I wasn’t reading, there was a book in my hand.
Now I do describe my books as shield, but not in a way that shut out the world. I made sure that the cover of my book was always visible to those around me. I wanted someone to come up to me and ask me about what I was reading. I wanted someone to come over and say they had read that same book and enjoyed it. I wanted to talk- but about my book. Talking about my book was safe. No one corrected me or told me my opinion was wrong. I knew everything there was to know about my book. The world inside my stories felt safe. Exploring the topic written on the pages I clung to didn’t hold any vulnerable opinions or personal feelings that could be attacked and upset me.
If I wanted to shut out the world that was much too loud and painful, I could use the book to do so. I could dive into my story and loose myself in an entirely different world with my friends who made me feel brave enough to fight dragons or smart enough to solve a murder. My friends in these books, I could get to know them- especially if it was a series that always made me feel included and part of the group.
My friends in these stories taught me how different people can be. My books taught me about social skills- what was appropriate and not so appropriate. I watched these characters get into fights and make up. I watched these characters and get to know themselves and loose themselves. I watched these characters care about the wrong things and then care about the right things. I learned what traits in characters I wanted for myself and which traits to stay away from.
Eventually, I was able to set my books down as I relied on them less and less. I still disappear into the pages of a book from time to time, but much more sparingly than before. I have found friends out in the real world that I spend more time with than my fictional buddies. I have shelves filled with stories that are important to me, that sit in the background of my set while I play the starring role in my life. These pages bound together were a lifeline in my life that I am grateful were there to do so much for me in a time of need.