Empty Houses

There are two things that bother me in day-to-day life: I miss my dead mom and my dead brother, and I hate that people just don’t get it.

I have a friend who has a sister-in-law who is just a lovely little nightmare. She has a persecution complex and she has decided that my friend is her enemy and is therefore not nice to my friend. My friend is a nice person. She doesn’t mean harm to anyone, she actively tries to grow spiritually and emotionally, and she just wants to help people. She’s actually studying to be a social worker, right now. Like, right this minute.

But this almost makes it worse when my friend misunderstands or misinterprets something I say. After my mom died, my friend was the only person who called me every single day and wouldn’t get off the phone until I yelled at her about how shitty I felt. She’s a good friend.

BUT although she has experienced loss, she has never lost a core family member, and she kept trying apply her own knowledge of loss to what I was going through. I could not get her to understand how absolutely devastated I was, which would have been fine, but she would always start the conversation by asking if I was doing better, like another day or two was supposed to heal the soul that had been torn to shreds, tattered pieces floating in the ether, each of them red-hot and screaming in pain.

One time, trying to find a metaphor she’d understand, I told her that my heart is like a house with rooms in it for everyone I love. And I spend as much time as possible in the rooms that are full of people I love, but I’m constantly, crushingly aware  of the empty rooms. My little brother died when I was 7, my mom died a few years ago, and I have various friends and acquaintances who hold empty rooms in my house. Each empty room is furnished with memories and reasons I love those people, all reasons I miss them so much.

Today, my friend called me and reminded me of this analogy, which instantly flooded me with not only the sense of loss I had when I was describing it to her, but the aggravation of trying to explain myself to someone who didn’t and couldn’t understand. She used this analogy to compare me to her sister-in-law, something to the effect of, “You have a hard life but you just focus on what you have and the good things in your life.” Which is true, I do my best to do exactly that, but a) I know how hard it is for me to do that — way fucking harder than dismissing that struggle in one fucking sentence, and b) that wasn’t the point of the analogy.

The point was that now matter how many people I love who are still left, and how much I enjoy them and appreciate that they’re alive, two of the three biggest rooms in my house are empty. And they’ll always be empty. No matter how many times I fall down, I can’t go into my mom’s room and get my boo-boos kissed. I can accomplish great things in my life, and two of the three people in the world who would have been happier for and prouder of me than me, can’t.

And just remembering the fact that those rooms are empty, which happens an unrelentingly ridiculous amount of times a day, sends my psyche into a stratosphere of agony. Because life is nothing without the people we love.

Anyway, I know that my friend means well and that she’s not trying to misunderstand me and misinterpret what I say, but it’s super frustrating to talk to someone who is supposed to be one of my best friends who just misses the point SO much. And the worst part is that she’s constantly praising me for being so evolved and shit, and I’m just not. I’m tired. I’m afraid. I’m trying.

But I’m not a better person than anyone else. I just understand that spreading my misery doesn’t make ME feel better. I try to be nice and I try to understand where people are coming from because it makes ME feel safer and happier to do that than to purposely misinterpret good intentions and expect the worst. Life is already the worst. It doesn’t need my help.

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