Imagine a house.
On the outside, the grass is green, maybe there is a white picket fence. It looks serene, and picturesque. You want to live in that house, because it’s just so perfect. People keep telling you that it’s the perfect place for you to live. They keep talking about it like it’s the only house on the block, even though you can see other houses, just as nice. You don’t want the other houses, they say. In fact, the other houses are definitely not right for you, and they don’t bother to let you see them.
Eventually, you decide that they must be right. This is clearly the house for you; This amazing house with the white picket fence and the luscious green grass. You decide that you’ll go all in on it, so you invest everything you have. Congratulating you, they hand you a key and you race up the porch steps, excited to start your new life. You insert the key in the lock, only to find out that you can’t get in. You look at the person who just handed you the key, eager for an explanation. Other people own the house, they say, and will take everything you own, because they are better tenants. They roll their eyes when you say they didn’t tell them about this part. When they are ready, they say, the real owners will decide if and when you’ll get full access to the home.
You try to change your mind. It’s too late, they say, and if you back out now, they’ll come after you. They also want you to think about how disappointed the owners would be if you pulled your investment; you wouldn’t want to disappoint these strangers whom you’ll share your life with, would you? They tell you that only bad people don’t follow through, and that you aren’t ever going to be able to get any other house because you aren’t fit to have any of the other houses. You feel trapped, and scared. Doubts about this house begin to surface. You weakly voice them, and they shake their head at your lack of willpower. Why aren’t you okay with the terms? Everyone else is.
This wasn’t what they told you in the beginning, you repeat. You invested everything into this beautiful house, and you aren’t even allowed to get in. Don’t they see how wrong this is? You should be able to at least have some access, even partially. They don’t agree. All of the power belongs to the people who own the house currently, because, they are the rightful owners. Defeated, you begin to explore around the outside of the house. You quickly realize that everything is locked up and there is no way for you to gain any sort of access unless the person on the inside opens a door. The key is useless, it means nothing. However, you have nothing left to lose, because you gave everything away, you wander around, waiting, hoping that the owners will notice you. That they will let you in. That they will finally acknowledge how much you invested in their home, your home too. They must be good people, everyone says they are.
Occasionally, they put something on the porch for you. A blanket, a cup a coffee, a picture of your investment; Things that give you hope. These minuscule items make you believe that they want to let you in, but they need time to warm up to the idea of sharing their house with a stranger. You make sure you are smiling all the time. You do whatever you can to impress them. You tidy their garden, mow their grass, tell people how amazing they are as they walk by this perfect house. The people inside are just as perfect as the house they live in, you say. Hopefully, you said it loud enough that the people within hear you, so they’ll accept you, and rightfully give you access to what is yours. You desperately want them to like you so they’ll see that you are worthy to gain entrance into this house; a house that belongs to you, as well.
Yet, it’s always the same, and nothing really changes. You get frustrated. You realize you have no reason to trust them. In fact you aren’t even sure that they weren’t part of the original scam. Sometimes, you vent to strangers, and even to loved ones. You tell the people who sold you this house that they lied to you. They don’t listen, nor do they care. Some people tell you that it’s your own fault for not knowing better, others tell you to be grateful for even knowing where the house is. This is just how this works, others say. There is nothing you can do is sometimes the response.
You don’t feel grateful; you feel like you were used. Lied to, dirty and wronged.
One day, the door opens. For just a brief second. The people within tell you that they want to get to know you, that you’ll get back what you invested, but that it’ll take time. This gives you so much hope. So you continue to observe, and wait, your patience waning. When nothing happens, you knock on the door, asking if they are ready now. They ignore you mostly, but they still slip out the items that encourage you to stay just a bit longer. Don’t push too hard, they warn. They are still in charge, they threaten. You try to understand them, and their point of view, and you tell everyone you are sure they are doing the same.
Yet, the longer you stay, the more you notice the cracks in this house’s foundation. The paint is peeling on the white picket fence, and the wood is clearly rotting. The windows are smudged, and dirty. The grass that was once velvety, is now patchy, with weeds sprouting out at every corner. The porch that you’ve waited on for years, is sinking. The owners within yell that you are the reason everything is changing, that they have been more generous than they needed to be. You are damaging their perfect house. It’s your fault.
You cry yourself to sleep nightly, wondering what you did wrong, wondering why you didn’t see it before. You stay, because they still have everything that is precious to you. At this point, you don’t even want anything back, you just want to be able to see it all again, to reap the benefits of that investment. After all, you were led to believe that you would be a part of this huge investment. Angry at yourself, and at these strangers, you begin to yell, and scream. You bang on the door and demand that they let you in, because they owe you so much. Don’t they know what they took from you? They owe you an explanation, something to help you understand why they think they own what you gave to them in faith.
Your cries get louder, and attract other people. You see people shaking their heads and pointing at the owners of this house, people who feel sorry for you. People who don’t understand why you aren’t being trusted. You feel crazed, but you want what is yours. You’ve behaved so well for years.
That’s when you are told to get out. You are told that you are attracting attention they don’t want. That they never really wanted you, just your investment. That they have no reason to be nice to you, or give you anything. They wish that you would understand how lucky you even are to be allowed near the house, because some people aren’t even given that. They are angry that you are protesting them, and their decisions, because you have no right to do that. Because you aren’t really the owner. They are, and you are out of line for demanding that they give back to you.
Carefully, and slowly, you begin to walk away from the house. You are shaking in anger. You want to set the house on fire, you want to watch it go up in flames, because you’ve never been so insulted and used. Hatred fills your veins as you watch the owners within watch you with disgust. You want them to hurt the same way they have hurt you. It consumes you for a moment. However, you don’t do anything like this because even though these people destroyed a part of who you are, they still have something that belongs to you, and you would never want to harm that. So you back away, hoping that one day, somehow, you’ll find away to get back what actually belongs to you.