The problem with being a 20 something girl in a world that values indifference is probably having to constantly suppress the side of you that is fighting this exact numbness. On one hand, we are constantly being shoved this romantic ideal and on the other hand were constantly being told to be ashamed of the things we secretly desire. When the world is telling you that the only way you will retain your value in the eyes of another is to pretend like their opinion doesn’t matter to you, that your emotions flow like a breeze, calm and collected, what happens when you get tired?
I’ve mastered being that girl for more than 20 years now. As a child, when I saw my mother pass out drunken on the marble floor I learned quickly that somehow I was expected to be the adult. I was expected to be the one who cleans up, I was never allowed to create a mess myself. When I saw my father cry because he was tired, I was expected to stay calm for the sake of preventing everything else from falling apart. And so I did, I became proud of it too. This ability to suppress and somehow invalidate my own feelings became a sort of weapon. The first time I watched my mother almost die because finally the alcohol had broken down her body, I called the ambulance and patiently waited for it to arrive. I called my father who was in a different city for work and he asked me to stay calm, be an adult and handle it. I was 17.
I never had a strong stable supportive relationship. I watched someone I loved walk out on me because he didn’t want to “deal with” my emotions because I hinted I was upset. The next night I stayed up till 5 am helping him navigate his own emotions. I didn’t complain, I didn’t feel like I had the right to. I kept searching for my safe space, and I found it in places and books, cried by myself alone in my room placing an exact 10 minute time limit for tears. Instead of feeling safe with the people I was with, I felt anxious, desperate and constantly on the edge of losing control, and control was so very important to me. If I lost control once I would spiral, I wasn’t going to let that happen, I wasn’t going to turn out to be my mother.
I eventually got tired of being “strong girl”. I considered it a compliment before, I don’t anymore. All I see are years of suppression, only I am to blame for the havoc I have created in my insides for refusing to acknowledge what I was feeling.
Then I met him, and for the first time I felt safe with someone. I didn’t feel like I had to hide and that I could finally speak and it wouldn’t just be white noise, but actually be heard. The safety I felt with him has been a feeling I have craved my entire left and a kindness I felt like I would never receive. Of course he had to live on a different continent. And of course I will never see him again. I feel stupid for feeling this broken when I knew he would leave from the beginning. But I’m tired of invalidating my feelings or somehow thinking that my emotions don’t matter because others have bigger problems. Though my mind constantly reminds me that I am no princess and life isn’t a fairytale, I find myself craving him asking me to follow him. Ridiculous ideal I know but when did needing a safe place become something to be so ashamed of.
So after all the ghosts, the cheaters, men I pushed away because I never did learn how to open up, this person became my almost. For this I am grateful because tonight I cried and for once I didn’t feel ashamed and I am sorry I chose not to see him tonight but I will wake up tomorrow morning and sleep will have washed away my longing for you, it always does.
Anonymously submitted to ArtParasites