I want to talk about something here that my friend texted me.
Me and this girl—I’ll call her Kristen—went to school together from K-10th grade and became attached at the hip in 7th grade. Sometimes I think we know each other better than we know ourselves, including crap we’ve been through.
Kristen comes from a… not a bad family, that’s so ambiguous, but a myriad of tough situations involving family. Only parcels of (not too happy) memories of a mother that gave her away, an alcoholic father, a jealous step-mother that easily disowned her, and the list could go on. These situations never ended and, in fact, still haven’t upon her moving six hours away for college.
I receive texts almost daily and at least weekly of new happenings involving her parents and occasionally the extended family, but this wasn’t always the case. Though I have known her since playground days and shared secrets with her since the awkward years, Kristen rarely shared what happened behind closed doors with me until the last few years of high school. And even then, it was fragments. Not until last summer have I really understood the extent of her emotional abuse, and not until this year has she been telling me what’s really going on as it’s happening.
For many years this frustrated me to no ends. I was her best friend; why wasn’t I the one she was going to first?! Eventually, I accepted this as part of who she is: private, strong, embarrassed.
These descriptions are all true, but they only circle the main idea. The text I want to bring up is the bulls-eye of the circling darts.
Kristen and I were having a casual texting conversation when she sent, “I miss you so much!” I was flattered, but surprised, because she is not one to express emotions so easily and dismissively.
“Aww, I miss you too!” I sent back with a sad face.
Then the cracking wall crumbled away and her words broke down into how she has been hiding everything, she can’t take it anymore, and she doesn’t know what to do. It is always terrible and terrifying to watch someone you love breakdown into your arms (literally or figuratively), because what do you do? How do you fix them? Well, you can’t. All you can do is be there for them, whether you’re actually looking them in the eye, talking to them over a phone, or texting them from six hours away.
I sent her back, “Why are you hiding it?” and finally the one truth of years and years of “hiding” and “blocking” and “buffering” came out:
“Cause no one needs to hear it.”
My best friend, so damaged and so strong, has isolated herself with her own strength. She has been told that no one will or can love her, that she is not deserving of anyone’s love, and that no one will care. So, just like with everything in her life, she finds ways to do things on her own, because who would help someone like her?
(photo found on Pinterest)
Kristen has come a long way since moving out, and she has confidence I’ve never seen in her, but still these times appear where she’s still the little girl crying in her closet.
“They may not NEED to hear it,” I texted back, “but you need to talk about it, and those who love you will WANT to hear it.”
Some happenings in life we can wrap up in our arms and put together on our own, and sometimes this might be the best way. But more often than not we all need someone to wrap us up and rock us while we cry, we all need someone to just “hear it” and hold our hand, to tell us that it really is okay, and that we don’t have to be the strong one in this moment.
You are worthy of being listened to, no matter what you have gone through or what you have done. You are worthy of having an army behind you, even if that’s just one person hearing you out silently and lovingly. You are worthy of breaking down without judgment, and you are worthy to be surrounded by people that love you enough to hear it even when they don’t need to.
Now let me say this. We often expect someone to know how we’re feeling and call us out, to force us to explain ourselves, so we don’t have to take the first step. This is an unfair expectation, because said-person may have no idea to even think of saying, “You seem really down; talk to me!”
I want you to know that you can give yourself the okay to breakdown. If you need someone to listen, then you find someone, and if you don’t know anyone who will listen… then you may want to reassess who it is you have set-up in your life.
Kristen is one of the strongest women I know, but she still needs to have her times of breakdown, her times of being vulnerable. She is not what her parents have told her she is. She is worthy, she is not alone, and she is very much loved, and so are you.
Asking for help, crying in front of someone—none of this is being weak.
It’s the strongest I’ve ever seen people.