Most people have heard me say, at one point or another, that I truly believe that being understood is one of the most basic needs of humanity. It’s honestly a core belief of mine and one that I frame my life with. I don’t just want to know people. I want to understand them. I want to know what makes them tick…I want to know their dreams, their fears, and who they truly are.
For maybe the first time ever, I feel like it’s important for me to share WHY this is how I shape my life. I want my goal of understanding to be…well…understood.
Last night I broke down in tears to one of my best friends. I admitted that the core root of what’s been going on with me lately is that I feel lonely. I’m not alone in the traditional sense of the word. Granted, I don’t have a lot of family and I live with a teenager (lol), but I have people. People who love me very much and won’t let me disappear.
And, yet…I’m still lonely. I feel like I’m constantly on the outside looking in.
Why? Shared experiences and understanding.
Another core belief of mine is that there isn’t one person in this world who has felt more trauma than another. If the worst thing that has ever happened to you is your dog died…that is the worst thing you know and it was traumatic to you. Just as my past was traumatic to me. We ALL have things that we are trying to heal from.
But what makes me feel lonely…is that most people have someone they have shared experiences with. Most traumatic experiences have support groups because enough people have been through it. Most people can say, “This horrible thing happened to me”…and, if they’re willing to be vulnerable, they will find others who have been through the same.
Does that make it all better? Not at all. But it does give you the sense that people understand.
I don’t have that. I don’t know other people who were kidnapped. I know other people who had a mentally unstable parent, I don’t know many people who literally fear them and had to cut all ties.
Do I wish I did? Not really. lol I’m GLAD most people can’t understand that.
But it’s lonely.
When an Amber Alert goes off and I go into a panic…I have people who immediately text me to tell me I’m safe…but people can’t really *understand* that panic. When Mother’s Day comes and it breaks my heart to watch other people celebrate their moms…Very few people understand the grief of having a physically alive mother, but not having a mother. When the anniversary of us being caught comes…I have people now who support me…but they can’t really understand why it’s a dark spot for me. And, mostly…
People who have never dealt with parental abduction have a very hard time understanding why it’s not just over when you were caught…and an even harder time understanding one core concept of parental abductions… Many people will say, “But at least they’re with their parent.” Mentally healthy people don’t abduct their children. If a child has been abducted by a parent, they ARE in danger. Some people do it out of spite or anger…dangerous. Some people truly do it to protect their child because they are afraid of the other parent. What happens when someone runs away in fear? They aren’t thinking rationally. A parent who can’t think rationally…dangerous. Beyond that are the beliefs, “You must be so glad that it’s over.” “At least that ordeal is past.” Do you know what most parentally abducted kids are told? The group I used to work with called it The 3 Ds. The other parent is Dead…Disinterested…or Dangerous. We jokingly added a 4th D for me. Doesn’t exist. So, in the moment that everyone is telling this recovered child that they must be so glad it’s over…In one moment…typically their name changes, their surroundings change, and they are sent to be with this person that they were taught was dead…or disinterested…or dangerous. Or, in my case, someone they didn’t know existed.
In that moment…we learn that people don’t understand. And while there are many parts of trauma that one can be counseled into seeing that they are wrong…that one…they’re not. Most of those kids will never meet another person who truly understands their life experiences.
If they’re as lucky as I am, they will have people who TRY to understand. They will have people who support them even when they don’t understand.
But they may very well never feel understood.
When they try to open up, they will face people who blatantly don’t understand and act like they’re crazy. They will face people who act like they’re just being dramatic because it’s not something they can grasp. They will face people who, with complete heartfelt sincerity, will say, “I can’t understand this. But I love you.” Those are the best people. I have those people. But I also have the other people who…when I’m TERRIFIED because something happened with my mother…or SHAKING because an Amber Alert went off in surround sound…will look at me and think (and some actually say), “Can’t she just get over it?”
And the loneliest part…is watching everyone else be understood…watching people connect over shared experiences…watching this world that they’re not a part of because no one can grasp their past.
So, yes…Understanding. It is HUGE to me. I want to understand EVERYONE. I want EVERYONE to FEEL understood and heard.
Because the alternative is a sense of loneliness that I still haven’t figured out how to overcome.