We are all trapped in perfect lives. Surrounded by beautiful things, lavish parties, gourmet food. we try to be “humble” about these things. We swear we aren’t rich, but rather average, middle class, “normal.” Yet when we get a glimpsed of the truly impoverished, we are slapped in the face by our own wealth. And we do everything within our power to forget these images. We fill our lives with business, with things, with petty, shallow relationships. Yet in the quiet moments, in the moment of stillness, these images come back to haunt us. They whisper in our ears that this is not how life is supposed to be. That while we have too much, we are missing so much more. No matter how hard we try to escape the whispers, they are forever branded in our hearts, in our souls.
I am trapped within my own perfection. I lead the “perfect life,” the American dream. I go to a private college, have an internship at my dream corporation. My parents have been happily married for 25 years. I have two younger siblings and a froofy little dog. We live in the suburbs of a large wealthy city. My parents make a lot of money, they drive nice cars. They bought each of us kids a car when we turned 16, a nice car at that. I am beautiful, skinny and well-liked. I have fun, I party, I have lots of friends.
Yet something is missing. And as much as I know this is true, I banish it from my mind.
I am hurting. But I have been hurting for so long I don’t feel it. My heart is hardened. I don’t cry, as much as I try. I don’t let anyone in. They push and shove, trying to break my walls down. I look curiously at them and quietly walk away. It won’t happen. Because when I did believe the words, as beautiful and delicious as they were, I left bitter and broken, swearing I wouldn’t let myself fall into the trap of lies ever again. So I haven’t.
So instead I fill my life with my internship, shopping, drinking and going out with friends. I want to feel again. But I’m so terrified of pain, of false words and promises, that I instead feel nothing.
Then out of nowwhere, there are moments where I remember, where I feel, where I’m alive. It hurts, but it feels so good to, to feel.
I look up. Time seems to stand still. The car in front of me isn’t moving, and I can’t stop. I’m going to crash, I think to myself. And instead of trying to stop, I let go. I close my eyes, push back and brace myself for what I know will be one of the most traumatizing experiences of my life. I hear a noise, louder than anything I’ve ever heard. My body is being thrown. Then it’s quiet. I look down and my car is stopped. Everything is stopped. I stumble out of my smoking, ruined car. Traffic moves around me, yet people are running to me. Tears start to pour down my face. Not for my car, not for my body, but because for the first time in months, I can feel.
I want the brokenness back. I’d take back the pain, the anguish, the hurt if only to know that my heart truly does still exist. That I’m still human. That my soul isn’t gone.