Originally, I intended to share this video in the Weekly Reading. But as I watched it for the second time, my eyes filling with tears, I realized that it was too important to be catalogued in a list. The message shared is one that every woman needs to hear.
There are so many women desperately trying to make themselves smaller. Shrinking in spaces that they have every right to fill. Keeping their thoughts to themselves when they are at work. Asking for less, expecting less, pretending to need less from their partners, children, friends and relatives.
Like the poet in the video, I learned by osmosis that if someone doesn’t give you what you need, you learn to live without it. You lock the door to the empty room their love, or their time, or their empathy should occupy, and you pretend the room isn’t there. Like when a child dies, and you leave their bedroom untouched–a shrine to something lost, something mourned.
That emptiness is corrosive. It adheres to the positive things in life and chews away at them, devouring their foundation. Over time, everything feels pockmarked and unstable, no longer whole.
Recently, I ended a relationship with someone I care about very much. In the beginning, our feelings and our interactions were equal. But over time, he withdrew. Too busy with work. Too many things on his plate. No time, no energy, no effort to spare, he claimed.
I responded by giving more of myself, silently accepting less in return, but things continued to slide. Before long, I felt hollow. Trapped in the nagging, maddening confinement of a problem that you cannot fix alone, like wearing a mohair sweater that’s two sizes too small. I was pouring myself into a bottomless pool, and I had to stop.
The axiom is as true in our careers, as it is in personal our lives: You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you ask for. And it is never too late to ask for the things that you want, need and can’t live without. We can have them, but only if we are brave enough to demand them and walk away from the situations and people that cannot or will not give them to us.
You cannot live a full life in a house made up of empty rooms.