I could tell by her face that she was tired. And not the kind of tired you can fix with a good night’s sleep.
The kind of tired that breaks you from the inside. The kind of tired you can’t easily fix. The kind of tired you contain within your whole being, even when it threatens to burst at the seams.
I am familiar with that kind of tired.
That kind of messy.
Like a clean, presentable room where all of the junk is shoved so hard and far into the closet you have to quickly slam the door so it doesn’t all come toppling out.
My friend has a teenage daughter who is struggling.
My friend wondered where she had gone wrong as a mom and how bad she had screwed her up.
16 years ago I was her daughter.
A bright, brilliant girl with the entire world in front of her. But something was off. Something was wrong.
I tried to fill the cracks with food, drugs, alcohol and boys in an attempt to drown out the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and discomfort.
Suddenly in the middle of a store the young damaged girl inside of me was telling my grown up friend all of the things to watch out for. All of the things that she can do as her mom to care for her. To love her. To get her through this. What I hope she heard above everything I rambled on about was “She needs you. You need to be her first line of defense. She needs to trust you. She needs to know you’ll always be there to catch her when she falls. She needs to feel safe at home or she’s going to go find something or someone else that is only an illusion of safety.”
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her.
About her daughter.
I was her age when I fell to the floor sobbing in a friends house simply because I felt as though my entire existence was a waste of time. I was wearing black wool pants and a red striped sweater. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so hard again in my life.
I couldn’t talk to my mom about it. She never seemed to understand that I was different. That I needed to be handled differently. She seemed to only view me as difficult. It was at that point that I retreated farther and father away from the life a 13 year old should have had.
My path has not been a smooth one.
But it has been made smooth by years of traveling back and forth between okay and not okay.
I have people to walk with me now. People to carry me when I can’t make it back to okay on my own. And all these wonderful people traveling my road with me pack it down and smooth it out even more.
I will pray for my friend. Pray she has the patience and understanding to carry her wild and wonderfully imperfect daughter through the rough road ahead of her when she can’t carry herself.
As for her daughter?
She is one of the special ones.
One with so much fight in her that things have to be difficult in order to for her to grow stronger rather than weak and complacent.
Generations will be blessed because of her struggles and strength.
She is going to grow in ways that cannot be taught in books or learned from others. She is going to feel in a way most people are incapable of feeling. Empathy and understanding are going to be two of her greatest strengths. She is going to make an amazing friend and mother.
We both broke down early in life so we could grow stronger from the very beginning, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.
I hope someday she can say the same.