This Empathetic Song

This Empathetic Song

“Depression, suffering and anger are all part of being human.” – Janet Fitch

There’s a little girl who lives with me. She’s amazing in every single way that I could think of and she finds a way to make me smile every single day. I don’t know how she does it, but my head could be doing whatever my 37-year-old head is doing at any particular time and, no matter what rabbit hole I’ve entered, she can usually bring me out of it. So, when this little girl who lives with me is starting to raise questions of self-worth, a piece of me dies, a piece of me cries, a piece of me smiles, and a piece of me is warmed. The heart-strings in this empathetic song are resonant.

My little roommate is going through the first change from a little girl, into a little person. Her needs are no longer animalistic and basic. Her needs are much deeper. She is beginning to wonder who she is. Not even ten years into this existence she is starting to feel the pressure with existentialism. That is something that she doesn’t know about at this time, but it brings her closer to her father than she could ever know. She is sharing in something that is so fundamentally human, and it is exciting to be a part of.

She hasn’t opened the door to true existentialism, but she is knocking. She’s asking these first questions in her head. She is broaching the subject of self-worth. The gateway drug to philosophical pontifications. Like her mother before her, and her mother before hers, and her mother before hers, and her mother before hers, and so on and so forth, she is finding herself in a place where she questions why certain people act a certain way towards her. In her beautiful head, she is trying to figure out why some people are inclusive while others are seclusive. Why some are hateful while some are loving. Why some are friendly while some are friends.

This precious little girl was at school the other day. Like most days really, save the weekend. Most days, when I get home from work, I walk in to a vibrato version of “That 70s Show Theme Song” or “Despacito” or a Selena Gomez song or some song I have never heard that I imagine Selena Gomez would sing. This is her on the surface level. I hear from the shower in the morning. I hear it from the kitchen while she is making breakfast. I hear it when I get home from work. I don’t know where she acquired the smokey, vibrato vocals of a lounge singer, but she has them and it feels me with so much warmth and happiness that when the house is silent I immediately become depressed.

The silence is noticeable to say the least. It’s like coming home to a crime scene. It’s this uneasy feeling that hits you in the pit of your stomach, right where it connects to the intestines. That little bit of stomach acid seeps out into the duodenum, leaving a putrid taste in your mouth. Fight or flight raps through your fragile face and you sense sadness. It envelopes you and it puts a brick right on your heart so you can feel your heart squeezing your duodenum, making that little bit of stomach acid seep out of your anus. In a word, it hurts.

Her eyes are distant. She’s looking back to what had happened to her during the day and you can see her questioning what it is to be this little girl who lives in my house. She is not broken. I should be clear about that. The hurt in her eyes is reflective of a nine-year-old girl having a tough time. Nothing more outside of subconsciously realizing there is more to life than Barbies and YouTube.

As I walk the 30 seconds over to her I have a lifetime of conversations with the future little girl. I speak with the teenager, the young woman, the new mom, the phenomenal woman that she has become. The mantra during this conversation was and always is, “You are always going to be okay. You know who you are. And you are the kindest and sweetest person I know.” Each iteration hugs me. Each iteration gives me a goofy face. Each iteration grabs my heart from colon and puts it back in its cold, dark home.

I sit next to her, backpack still on from the workday and brush her highlighted hair from her eyes.

me: What’s wrong, Baby?
her: Nothing.
me: [not fooled] Okay.

I kiss her head and unpack for the night. We go to dinner as a family. The drive is vibratoless. The sound of the road is accompanied by adult discussion and the soothing sounds of Filter. We sit. Our server brings our drinks without hesitation. We sit as a family. The boy who lives with me is hoarding crayons. The little girl who lives with me is lying her head on the table. The woman who I love is stroking her hair.

wife: What’s wrong, Baby?
her: Nothing.
wife: [not fooled] Okay.

[beat]

wife: [to the little girl] What was your favorite part of school today?
her: Nothing.

*editor’s note: the little girl will always default to lunch if she can’t think of something to say. Obviously a red flag.

wife: Really, nothing?
her: [eyes up and to the left] Probably lunch.
parents: [nod knowingly]
wife: What was your least favorite part of the day?
her: …
me: [attempt to raise an eyebrow]
her: Makerspace.
wife: What happened at makerspace?
her: [name redacted] was being mean to me.
me: Why was she being mean to you?
boy: [to wife] Can I have your phone?
parents: NO!
her: [sullen] I don’t know.
wife: Did you do something?
boy: [to wife] Can I have your phone?
parents: NO!
her: [lays head back on the table] I wouldn’t hang up her jacket.
me: …
wife: What does that mean?
her: I don’t know.

We continue the conversation a couple of words at time and find that this “friend” was bossing her and stripping her down of her self-worth. This is something that made her feel, for one of the first times in her life, low. She didn’t understand why someone would treat her this way. It wasn’t computing. So, we had a conversation of why certain people may act a certain way.

We went into histories and hypotheticals and you could see the wheels spinning in her head and that frown starting to turn rightside up. We offered her the advice that the woman I love and me could only offer. No matter who the person is, or what they may be saying to you, the only thing that you can confidently do is to be a great person. If you are a great person back, then, anything that the other person is doing will be for not. You take the power away by opening your heart, because once your heart is open, it is easy for people to grab a hold of it and feel its power.

Since Monday my house has been filled with sloppy, smokey vibratoes. And it feels so good to come home after a long day and hear the familiar choruses. She’s okay and she knows this. Because she is being kind and sweet and offering her heart. She is building upon this experience and will soon be ready to take the next step in her existential journey. I can’t wait to wax poetic with her.

I want everyone I know to know that I will always be happy to speak with you if you are having a down time. My door and heart is always open. I may not appear open, but at the end of the day, I am. And, you all know how much I love you. You guys are the kindest and sweetest people I know. It is going to be okay. It has to be. The human condition is too short and fragile to not let it be. Nothing is ever broken. Nothing is ever written in stone. We can work together. All of us together to can resonate and be human together!

please to enjoy.

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