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When I Realized I Needed to Let Others In

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It seems like my whole life I have had people constantly responding to my life with, “Well that must be hard on your parents.”

I am one of those people who feels so deeply with empathy towards anyone. I always have been the one to consider how the “bad guy” feels. What happened in their childhood to make things so. I am incredibly good at putting myself in another’s shoes. It is what makes me perfect for such great advice.

When my best friend died by suicide after a year and a half of me working with him to look at things differently and to make life worth living, I didn’t grieve.

I was the one who kept everyone together. I worked hard to make sure everyone else was getting the help they needed. I jumped in when my friends were starting to spiral and I was the one who talked to their parents about getting them real help. I had many thank me afterwards for how I helped them. But who helped me? Who was there for me when I had my waist down reconstructive surgeries? Who listened as I cried and sobbed at 2 am? No one.

I didn’t use to be very open about the real me. I never would lie about who I was or what I was feeling, but I wouldn’t offer things up, and I found that people didn’t ask. I was so dang busy keeping everyone else from falling apart by themselves, no one was there for me.

It finally hit me when I was 18. Four years since I had my surgeries, six years since my constant pain started. And three years since my best friend killed himself.

I hid myself so deeply within my soul that it took years to start grieving. I worked hard to learn to stand up for myself with my family and those I loved. The problem was that I put myself so well in other people’s shoes that I forgot to look down at my own two bare-feet.

No one has or had written a book that explained any of it to me. Sure there were some attempts on the subject, but most often I would find the answers to myself in books no one would expect to hold parts of me. Books of fantasy with queens saving the day and opening themselves up to their loved ones were the things that reached me a thousand times better than even the two times I was forced to visit a therapist right after Daniel died.

Those books split me open and I finally learned good ways to exist in this world with extreme pain, with the loss of your best friend, with how to be with people who don’t have a clue about your life, judging you.

The answers included being open. I mean really being open. Not just waiting for someone to say the right phrase to get you to be real about yourself. Not hiding how bad your health and pain are even if you don’t want to admit how bad things have gotten. Living a real full life can never be accomplished by being closed off to the world. You see it in so many movies where the people go through a trial and then they make the wrong choice by not being honest or not opening up to the people they should share their life and struggles and hopes and dreams with.

You cannot live happily being closed off from the world. You just can’t and you shouldn’t either, because the release you can feel when you let others help carry your heavy burdens will be wonderful and glorious!

We are not on this earth to get in arguments, live by our lonesome and be angry and hurting all the time.

Yes, we must consider others and put ourselves in their shoes and keep that empathy, keep our humanity. But also we shouldn’t forget about ourselves. I may still be the only one awake at 2 am, but I know there are so many people out there on my side, thinking of what is best for me now and helping me remember that I am not alone and I never was. I need only to have asked and they would have returned the favors. Being the martyr is great and all for the movies, but in this world of struggles with loneliness and pain, life is much more of a fairytale of people who love, understand and support each other. Please, just let them in.

Getty image by Syuzanna Guseynova

Originally published: August 23, 2021
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