No, they don’t. Nobody can tell. Nobody can see.
Does anybody care? Like truly care?
With her head in her hands she thinks about her misery for the millionth time this week. The same thoughts she has been thinking for the past couple of decades.
You see, when she goes out into the world there is a certain face she puts on. This face tells everyone I am doing ok. People see this face and leave her alone. They believe she is doing just fine. Why would they think any differently? They see her I’m doing ok face and treat her as if she doesn’t have a care in the world. That everything is hunky-dory. No problems here.
So, she keeps quiet. Doesn’t say a word to anyone about how she is really doing. Why bring up the shitty stuff? No one wants to hear about that. When she gets asked “how are you?”, she knows the only sufficient answer is, “I’m good”. Anything beyond that is too much for people to handle. They don’t really want to know. It’s just a polite thing you say in society.
She knows this to be true because she does it too. She gives the right answer and she also asks the questions so as to not actually get any meaningful response that goes any deeper than the surface.
People are selfish. For good reason. They are looking out for themselves (as they should) but it would be really nice, once in a while, to have someone look out for her. She feels all alone in her misery. So buried under her thoughts she cannot see any ray of hope.
Life has been cruel to her. So she believes. She’s convinced there is someone out there somewhere playing cruel tricks on her. Orchestrating her misery. Giving her reason to conclude her life is only meant for misery and this ‘someone’ gets great pleasure from making her life as miserable as possible.
She wonders who this ‘someone’ is. Why are they doing this to her? She wants them to stop. She doesn’t want to feel this way any more.
She certainly can’t tell anybody about this ‘someone’. They would think she is nuts. They definitely wouldn’t want to know more about how she was really feeling if she went around telling all who would listen about this mysterious ‘someone’ wreaking havoc on her life and giving her one miserable moment after another.
Surely if she got up the nerve to talk to someone about her misery they would listen? A friend? Family? Not likely. Her family aren’t that close and she can’t bring herself to speak so openly to anyone she knows. What would she even say? Hey, I’m fucking miserable over here. I need someone to listen to me.
If only it were that simple (but, it is). She’s gotten the nerve more than a few times but chickened out right at the last second. It’s not because she didn’t want to, it’s because her mind (AKA ego) came rushing in all panicked spewing out reason after reason to not do it. Her mind became a flustering mess and the reasons were so convincing and evidence-based (remember the last time you tried to do this and it ended in disaster? Remember when that one person laughed at you because you told the truth about how you felt? Remember when you tried to speak up but you kept getting cut off because no one cared what you had to say?). She believed every single word and kept her mouth shut out of fear.
Fear. Anxiety. Misery. Anger. They are what she knows. Telling the truth about who she is and how she feels? That stays under wraps. Kept under lock and key. So, she betrays the real her and exhibits a falsified version instead. It is better that way. No one seems to mind. They aren’t trying to see who she really is under all that fabrication anyway.
I see you.
Words so simple yet dynamic and rousing. She pauses for a moment and takes hold of them. Her head snaps to life, her eyes widen in wonder and her breath deepens.
Is it possible I don’t need anyone else to see me? Is it me who needs to see me?
In that brief passing of time she can feel the enormity of those words. They have expanded within her so significantly she senses everything those words mean. She has known them all along. She was blinded by her misery. Her misery kept her stuck in the revolving door of nobody notices, nobody cares. Her mind broadcasting the same miserable thoughts she had over 30 years ago into her day from the instant she wakes up in the morning.
What does she do with these words now? How does she go about seeing herself for the first time in all her miserable glory?
She gets up out of her seat and walks into the bathroom. She is afraid to look at the woman in the mirror but she does it anyway. She looks. Really looks. She looks at her mouth. Her chin. Her hair. Her shoulders. All the while avoiding the one place she knows she has to look. Her eyes. After a few minutes of pretending her eyes don’t exist, she finally concedes to observing her own eyes.
She notices the colour. The size and shape. The whites and the pupils. Her eyelashes and the few wrinkles at the corner of her eyes. Eventually her eyes stop moving and she focuses on what is behind them. Its tough. She squirms a little. She feels very uncomfortable. She has never liked what she saw in the mirror which is why she barely takes a glimpse in the morning when she is getting ready for her day.
She’s afraid. She’s terrified of what she is going to find behind her own eyes. Who is the woman staring back at her? How did she become such a miserable, sad and lonely woman?
Years of hatred and self-loathing reflect back at her. A shock to see how they have become such a substantial part of who she is. More than she realised. She knew they were there, there is no denying the magnitude of those feelings, yet she somehow didn’t appreciate just how much of an affect they had on her behaviour and how they demanded so much of her attention. They are like two naughty kids fighting incessantly, throwing toys around the room and yelling at one another so loud it’s impossible to hear what they are actually saying.
I see you. I see all of the fucked up feelings residing behind these eyes. I have ignored you all for far too long. I’m not going to do that any more.
Not only does she see hate and self-loathing she also sees love and joy. They’re hiding behind all the shitty feelings but they are there. Waiting to be seen. To be felt once again.
A feeling of sadness washes over her. Not sadness for who she has become but a sadness for a wasted life. A life spent dramatising the behaviours of others towards her, sinking into depression over a single word spoken in irritation or anger consuming her because she believed so desperately she would never be enough.
Behind her eyes is a woman in pain. Behind her eyes is a woman ready to let go of that pain. To love it and take care of it in a way no one else could.
Her pain grew and grew over the years due to a lack of love. Love for herself, love from her parents, love from those she thought cared about her. Love was denied. Love was rare. Love was not allowed.
Staring deeper into herself she can see what has been there all along. Her own love. She may not have received all of the love she deserved as a little girl but now she can feel her own love. It never left her. It didn’t abandon her the way she abandoned it. Love is like that. It will always be there for you whenever you need it. It is never disapproving. It is never judgemental. It is never cross with you. Love is unconditional.
As her eyes observe the ones looking back at her, she makes a vow to herself and the woman behind those loving eyes. A vow to never give up her love again. To reach for her love whenever there are dark days holding her down, to return to her own love in instances of hate and self-loathing and when minutes of despair threaten to dismantle all of her good work.
She vows to always be there for herself whenever she needs someone. She vows to notice when she is in distress. When her misery has come back to say hi, remember me?
A realisation creeps into her being. An awareness of this ‘someone’ and who they actually are. This someone is she. It has been her all along orchestrating her own misery. Getting pleasure from creating such a miserable life for herself. But, why would I do that? she wonders.
It was my protector. Keeping me safe. Not letting me live beyond what I knew. Telling me over and over again the misery was all I was worth so I wouldn’t go in search of what brings me happiness and love.
She thinks back to all those times she wanted to break free of her misery and how this other voice in her head repeatedly let her know all of the thousands of reasons why she couldn’t. She believed it. This voice. Believed every single word it said. Doubted her own intuition. Her own feelings. Not surprising she stayed stuck in all of the misery. This voice held her there.
Now she knows better she can stop listening to that voice and begin trusting in her own voice again and the voice of her intuition, her inner guide, her loving voice.
And, when she goes out into the world she will have on her genuine I am ok face. And if she’s not ok, she will be honest. With herself and with anyone who asks. She will speak to her friends. Friends she knows deep down she can talk to. People who will genuinely listen if given the chance. She understands she needs to give the people in her life more credit. They do care for her. She will finally allow it.
She will also allow herself to notice and never again take for granted that she is the most important person who needs to notice. Nobody else matters. Not when it comes to her own love and all of those feelings she has done her best to hide away from the world, and from herself.