Sitting on the well-worn, blue speckled carpet, she laughed at her friend, Anna, who’d just said something off the wall, as usual. Laughing wasn’t at all uncommon, she laughed all the time, but for some reason this laugh had left her feeling this recurring empty feeling, a sudden jerk into reality, as if the laugh was fake and didn’t belong, even though it hadn’t felt like that. It occurred to her that maybe it wasn’t emptiness she was feeling, exactly. Then it hit her like an unexpected tidal wave, throwing her instantly off-balance.
She felt alone.
Holding her smile so no one could tell what she was thinking, her eyes scanned the room from face to face. Scattered about the room were the six young women who knew her better than anyone ever had. Yet, that made her sad, all of the sudden.
If she were to describe them to anyone, she’d tell them they were her best friends, her sisters. She’d do anything for them, that’s just the way she was made. Even if any one of them might not do the same for her.
When she’d met them all four years ago, it was like a whole world opened to her. She’d had best friends before, but living independently with and amongst these young women provided opportunities to see them every day, any hour of the day. In happy times and bad times, and all the in between. For the first time in her life, she had a place to belong.
She was likeable. Loveable, even. It was just her personality to mean what she said, and to say what she meant. People could count on it, and often did. She was dependable, passionate, and caring. She was open and accepting of others, even when people around her were not. Standing for what she believed in wasn’t something that was negotiable. It just was. Caring about people and having a genuine interest in getting to know them wasn’t an act. It just was.
Some were drawn to her for those reasons. Yet, those qualities also scared many people. Most, actually. She shared of herself, but not everyone did the same, or with the same depth.
Some didn’t want to receive that offering. Often, it was too much. She was too much, at least that’s how it felt.
Over time, she learned that many people wished to keep her at arm’s length. They wanted the benefits that came with being her friend, but didn’t always wish to reciprocate. Some would only take. And take.
The thing was – she never pushed people away. Especially the ones sitting in this room, even if it felt like they didn’t always reciprocate. Not only could she not risk causing people to feel abandoned or rejected…..she needed them. That was twisted and made no sense, and she knew it.
But, they were all she had.
Except, as she scanned the room, looking at each and every one of her ‘best’ friends, she felt so alone. It wasn’t the first time this feeling had hit her, but this time it was like an anvil on her chest. It was hard to breathe. In the pit of her belly, there was an aloneness that squeezed and knotted the muscles, rising like bile, choking her.
She knew these women. She had spent the last four years listening, even to all the things they didn’t say, helping even when they hadn’t asked, and giving them everything she had to give.
She loved them.
But, in that moment, she knew they couldn’t possibly love her, not in the same way. They didn’t really know her; they hadn’t allowed that to happen.
And you have to be known to be truly loved.
-image found on Tumblr; fictional situation, but based on real life