To be human is to tangle with confusion.
Who isn’t frequently befuddled by their surroundings or taken aback by the hard-heartedness of others? And when this becomes the recurring pattern in our interactions with them, what are we supposed to make of it? Why does it keep happening even as we behave like capable, reasonable, and compassionate adults?
The answer came to me unbidden and forced me to face the part of me that never gets to speak, the part I keep tucked away because it is so fragile. My inner child is unfit for this world, her love reflexive, generous, and candid; it’s a puppy who stands by your side no matter how many times you kick her.
Letting my inner child come out to play is the most dangerous thing I can do so she spends her days locked up in my head, agog over life but aghast at how I live.
How little regard I seem to have for my own well-being is something that shocks people sometimes, unless it serves their interests. Exhaustion is something I am often urged to address by the very same people who avail themselves of my professional skills for free. They even have the gumption to make demands while telling me to take on more work, something I’ve been doing for months to add extra income streams.
My inner child routinely foils continuing attempts to pull myself out of illness and hardship. She’s so thrilled with the opportunity to join in and share love that survival becomes an afterthought.
The adult I am doesn’t have the heart to deny her this joy even though the price to pay is getting ever steeper in emotional terms.
To be human is to love without conditions.
If I credit vocation with saving my life and helping me rebuild a life word by word, it is also directly responsible for my failure to protect myself.
That poor people can’t afford to work for free would be self-evident if our society were less geared toward individualism but it is not. Instead, we go on endless ego trips and expect others to host our dreams without second thoughts for what sacrifices it might entail on their part.
Love becomes something we take instead of something we give. And the more we take, the bolder we become, eager to see just how far this gift of love might go before it runs out or turns into something else.
Love that has been weaponized becomes live ammo as it begins to cannibalize its host for survival. Watching a human being plead and prostrate themselves and beg for love isn’t just a form of torture; it is a compelling spectacle for those staging it.
Knowing someone is so devoted to you they will always have your back until you push them away is a form of power and those who sense they have it invariably get curious. You want to know how it works so you try it and soon you develop a taste for inflicting pain, humiliation, and distress on a fellow human.
Not everyone will cross that line and give in to their darkest impulses but some will because they can.
To be human is to be self-aware.
What few pause to consider is that the person being taken advantage of may be fully cognizant of the fact and even consent. Especially if the only love they’ve ever known is the unattainable kind, the kind you have to jump through hoops to deserve.
This is all my inner child knows and this is what she keeps settling for; I desperately want to keep her safe but I don’t know how. For all the self-inquiry I put myself through to try and prevent chronic depression from spiriting me away again, I do not understand.
I do not understand how anyone could be so callous toward a fellow human even though I live in the real world and am no stranger to horror. What reason reveals is something the heart refutes every time; my daily reality is a tug-of-war between heart and mind and my inner child is the rope.
But the rope is fraying; I watch my inner child relinquish her grip on hope a little more every day, her hands raw from holding on for dear life for so long.
I do not understand; all I know is that I could never leave her behind.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.