There is something universal about “pushing others away” when things get to hard, emotionally or otherwise. We often find it hard to fully embody our feelings without lashing out at others. We want others to reject us first so that we don’t have to look inward to find out what is really going on. We want the consequences for our actions to make decisions for us, so that we don’t have to.
No one better exemplifies this universal trait than Yondu and Rocket from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. In volume two of this series, Yondu exposes Rocket’s deepest fear: the emptiness he experiences whenever he receives love and cannot reciprocate it because he doesn’t know how.
Let’s take a spoiler-filled look at just how he manages it:
YONDU I know everything about you. I know you play like the meanest and the hardest `cause you actually the most scared of all. ROCKET Shut up. YONDU I know you steal batteries you don't need and you push away anyone who's willing to put up with you, `cause just a little bit of love reminds you how big and empty that hole inside you actually is! ROCKET I said, shut up. YONDU I know the scientists what made you never gave a rat's ass about you - ROCKET I'm serious, dude - ! YONDU Just like my own damn parents, who sold me, their own little baby, into slavery! I know who you are, boy, because you're me.
It is clear that Rocket and Yondu are forming a bond here. Their shared experience is one of rejection. They are unable to connect with others on a deep level because of their traumatic past, but in this moment, they are able to connect with one another.
They can see each other clearly, even as Rocket doesn’t want to admit it, telling Yondu to repeatedly “shut up.” But, in doing so, he really is only confirming Yondu’s assumptions of their shared trauma. In saying “a little bit of love reminds you how big and empty that hole inside you actually is,” he is admitting to the hole inside of him too, and perhaps in all of us.
The emptiness of feeling unloved and unwanted from those who should have been or should be there is all too real for many of us. And the only way that we can begin to feel it is by admitting it to ourselves that we both need love and are deserving of it. No matter what is within our past, we are still human and humans require the love of others. We are not meant to travel this earth (or the universe, in Yondu and Rocket’s case) on our own.
And just as Yondu is suggesting in saying “you’re me.” We share far more in common with one another that we often realize. I have been felt rejected for who I am. I have lashed out at others when I felt them hitting to close to home. I have left conversations at bars with my wife when I should have stayed and just listened, even if I didn’t think we were getting anywhere.
And just because we don’t have a planet to go blow up doesn’t mean that we cannot come together and resolve the holes inside of us. Just because we don’t have whistle-controlled murder arrows or preternatural engineering prowess, doesn’t mean that we cannot aim straight for one another and build something new together. But, we have to stop pushing one another away or using toxic behavior as a defense mechanism. And this is a reminder that I have to do that too. Me. The person speaking these words. I too need to continue filling the hole inside.