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Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Scrawny, nerdy, and entirely unsure of herself.

However people perceived her on the outside, on the inside, she always felt…..different. Lonely. Insecure.

She developed a pattern of trying to please people so they would like her. So there would be as little conflict as possible. So she could quiet the messages inside that kept telling her she wasn’t good enough.

Though her outer shell grew up, and certainly did many things that went against her people pleasing side, the little girl inside remained. Remains.

But she’s growing up.

Through therapy, the little girl is finally understanding some things. Receiving some support. Some validation.

There remains the habitual tendency to almost instinctually try and suppress her own needs because (1) they won’t be understood or (2) she believes they might hurt someone else’s feelings.

She always, always, feels responsible for everyone else’s feelings.

But she’s not.

She’s just not.

She’s realized that she can’t be.

Nobody should have to carry that weight.

Nobody should be that easily manipulated.

It only ever leads to inner turmoil, the likes of which I couldn’t explain to you if I tried.

She cares about others. Deeply. Not just the little girl, the grown up, outer shell also cares greatly about other people. Even the ones that hurt her to care about.

They are both learning that, in order to preserve their own well-being, sometimes they have to walk away. Instead of trying to please. Instead of trying to make conflicts stop or find middle ground. She’s learning that those ideals are not always possible. And it’s not up to her to facilitate them.

Sometimes, she just has to walk away.

From the people she’ll never please, and who tear at her heart with passive aggressive claws.

From the people who refuse to do any growing or show any semblance of true compassion and empathy.

From those who are obviously dealing with their own lost inner child but don’t recognize it.

She can’t fix anyone else.

She can only take steps to heal her own broken parts.

For someone who has always felt such a deep obligation to others and being what they wanted, focusing on her own inner brokenness has not been an easy journey.

There were parts of herself that were practically starving of emotional malnutrition and a lack of self-care.

Day by day, the little girl has been coming to an understanding with her grown up shell.

That the feelings of others are not always her responsibility.

That she has the choice to walk away from toxic people, even if they are relatives or came to her under the guise of friendship.

That she can trust the instincts that always made her feel different and isolated. Because they are actually incredible gifts that not everyone has, and that is why she often felt so different. Because she is. And that’s okay. She has found more of her people.

She’s gaining strength, every single day. Even on the days that hurt her, when she has to push through, eyes forward, clad in the armor of determination that she cannot, will not retreat back into the habits that left her starving.

She is coming of age, this little girl.

One day, she will be lost no more.