Those are the words that go through my head when I turn on my phone after yoga class and find that no one’s emailed, texted, tweeted, commented, left a voicemail, tried to be in touch. When someone says they’ll call right back and the call doesn’t come. When no one else picks up the ball when I’m too busy to be the planner of everything I’m involved in and stuff falls apart if I don’t make it happen.
Nobody loves me, nobody cares. Is that true? Intellectually I know of course it’s not true. I’m surrounded by people who love and appreciate me. But, still, there it is. Like a quiet chant that seeps in whenever, wherever it can, those words quietly deflate me.
I expect to be disappointed.
Yesterday, as I explained my overview life map concept to a friend (that was the subject of yesterday’s musings), he matter-of-factly told me that yes, I expect to be disappointed. I am sure the worst is waiting for me. Well, not the worst that life can bring, but the most painful to me. I expect indifference, disinterest, that I don’t register on anyone’s radar, that I’m not important enough to make an effort for, that I’m inconsequential in other people’s lives.
That thought slapped me upside the head. In a casual conversation, I discovered the theme of my life. Not that it was hiding anywhere. Nobody loves me, nobody cares. It’s pervasive. All encompassing. My default mode. I can rise above it, but there it is, like a familiar blanket, waiting to wrap me up tight whenever it can.
Why is this where I go? My wise friend Amy said the question shouldn’t be why—it should be how to keep it from happening again. But, it’s hard not to examine, delve, put pieces together for glimpses of understanding and insight. It could be that my brother was gravely ill when I was too little to remember and my parents were distracted, distressed, often physically and emotionally unavailable. At least, that’s what I’m guessing. We rarely talk about any of this. Yesterday my brother called me, shocked to have discovered I’d suffered from seizures as a baby. He never knew I’d been found turning blue in my crib. More than once. I know that when Jack was having seizures I had tremendous trouble coping. My panic and fear almost incapacitated me. Maybe having two kids grappling with terrifying issues was too much. My parents both came from emotionally stunted families (although, to be honest I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much communicating going on in most families back then) and their default mode was shutting down. My mom ate and read mysteries. My dad put headphones on and listened to classical music. Much more must have going on inside, but that’s how it looked to me. I remember wanting to spend time with them and being told there must be something wrong with me that I’d prefer family to friends. But, I had no true friends. I didn’t think anyone liked me. I was so afraid of that being true, I gave up trying.
If my family didn’t want to be with me, why would anyone else?
(I still feel that)
Even now, it’s hard to trust, to be open, to believe people have my back. To ask for help, to extend myself, to trust that it will be ok in the end.
So, if I was to rewrite my story, to find a new way of thinking, being, feeling, maybe it’s that I have to love myself. That I need to care about me. And that looking for approval, acceptance from the outside will always let me down. If I can learn to find those things on the inside, the outside will get easier.
It’s a step folks.