Find a nice guy. Someone you can depend on. Someone who will take care of you.
So, she did.
Buy a nice house. In a great neighborhood, with the best little elementary school.
So, they did.
Have a baby! It will make your family will complete.
So, they did. Two, in fact.
You still feel empty…incomplete? You should talk to someone about that. It’s not normal, what, with everything you have.
It didn’t take long for her to absorb their words, so deeply and completely that she herself began to believe them as true.
She blamed herself.
How could she have everything and still feel nothing?
So, per their advice, she did talk to someone, and once she started she couldn’t stop. She talked and talked and talked, and then she waited and waited and waited, both terrified and exhilarated to finally have someone tell her why she was so broken and ruining everything.
Oddly, though, all that talking and listening and waiting led her to a place unexpected. While searching for ways to fix herself, so she could stop failing everyone else, she kept dead-ending at the same conclusion – that she didn’t need to be fixed, because she wasn’t broken.
Regrettably, and for far too long, she’d somehow let others convince her that out of the 1,000 parts she was made of, 999 made her weak. But, for the fist time, she’d finally stopped second-guessing herself and started second-guessing others.
Take a look inside and stop running from your feelings.
So, she did.
Taking out all her parts, she laid them neatly on a table and, one by one, inspected them for what seemed like hours. She stared at them. She picked them up and put them back down. She observed them from every possible angle – top to bottom, left to right, backwards and forwards. She wanted so badly to understand why some thought these parts were broken and, in turn, breaking everything around them. But, no matter how many different ways she looked at them, she simply could not see what they did.
Your heart is too soft and you take things too personal.
And, they were right. Her heart was way too soft. It bled and it ached, sometimes a million times a day, over things most deem inconsequential. They said it made her crazy. They said it drove them crazy. But, crazy or not, she loved that heart, and was proud that it was her’s.
You’re too opinionated.
Fair point. But, what else did she have if not her voice? Besides, she had given up most everything else.
You’re way too sensitive! You have so many emotions.
That wasn’t exactly something she could argue with, either. Indeed, she had many emotions. She felt the world around her and everything in it, taking on its feelings and making them her own. When others hurt, she hurt with them. Some thought this made her weak. But, not her, she thought it made her strong. Because, even if these feelings weren’t always pleasant, they made her feel alive. Even more so, they made her feel connected. And, that was something she desperately needed. Because, in her nice house, in the great neighborhood, with the cute little elementary school, lived only disconnect.
In it, lived shadows that spent their days coexisting. They crept around quietly, heading anywhere and everywhere, but never in the same direction. Because, moving towards one another meant having to act out the same script and play the same part – a part they’d both grown tired of playing years ago.
And, although there were two people living in that house, for so long she only blamed one of them – herself.
The closer they got to one another physically, the lonelier they felt emotionally. Even so, they made sure to smile, and be polite, and say things like how was your day oh that’s good mine was fine too. And, with each pleasantry exchanged, and each forced-smile shared, they both died a little on the inside. They existed like this for years – slowly dying so that others could live.
They died for so many reasons.
They died for their kids.
They died for their friends. Those friends who thought they were the absolute cutest.
They died for their families, because not doing so meant disappointing them, and that was much too great a weight to bear.
In public, they laughed and held hands and offered to get one another a drink. They were the perfect couple when everyone was looking and complete strangers when no one was looking.
And, she blamed herself.
Her friends, one by one, asked where she had gone. Something that confused her, at first, because what did they mean? She was right there. Then, one day she looked in the mirror, and everything made sense when she saw a shell of who she once was staring back at her.
For years, she apologized for laughing too loudly and for talking too much. Saying I’m sorry had become an automated response. For years, she’d tried to fit into a mold that others had decided was right for her. The thought of this made the real-her cringe with shame and anger. The girl who didn’t give a shit what anyone thought had become the girl who cared what everyone thought – a weak shadow of who she used to be.
She tried so badly to make her perfect-to-others life work – to live life like everyone had decided she should. So much so, that she’d all but sold her soul to accomplish it. Worse, she was so wrapped up in trying to be who he wanted her to be, she was unable to see that it didn’t matter. He didn’t want her to be anything, he only wanted to be without her.
But, to be fair, she took off her shoes and slipped into his. And, in them, she realized that she was crushing his spirit the same was he was crushing hers. He, too, had sold his soul, and given up himself to make his perfect-to-others life work.
So, if he wasn’t to blame, and she wasn’t to blame, then who was to blame?
It was almost impossible to tell because a decade had passed, which made it hard to remember what even brought them together in the first place. Until, they did remember. It was friendship.
These friends made a common mistake of trying to love each other as more than that. But, in their failed attempt to be more than they were ever meant to be, they made two beautiful kids. So, really, who could call it a mistake?
As friends do, they finally made the decision to stop hurting each other and just let go.
It took a while to unlock and process the years of unspoken pain, but eventually they did. And once the waters calmed and the anger subsided, she could finally see who was to blame for all that emptiness.
She wasn’t broken.
And he wasn’t broken.
They were broken.
But, by breaking themselves in half, they were whole again.
* * *
Find yourself. Be stable, and take care of yourself all on your own. Live life the way you want to, not how others think you should.
So, she did.
And, for the first time since she could remember, there was no more emptiness.
She was complete.