If anyone had tried telling me five years ago that this is where I’d be know, both geographically and emotionally, I’m pretty sure I’d have felt completely justified in responding that you were one of those rare individuals who was apparently crazier than I’m purported to be.
And yet…here I am.
As a certain little black duck once conceded, guess I’m the goat.
Conventional cliched wisdom dictates that the one thing human beings cannot survive without along with food and water is the certainty that they are indeed loved by the people whom they love in return.
The obvious sources we tap into are family, friends, and if we’re very lucky, someone we can be open, vulnerable and wholly imperfect with. Ideally, that well is deep enough to sustain us for the entirety of our lives and the thought of what we’re going to do should the reservoir ever run out never even crosses our minds.
I sure as hell didn’t. There was no way I could’ve fathomed such a thing considering where I was at that point in time.
But then it happened.
In hindsight, I guess I have the virtue of all the time since to really reexamine where and how I brought it upon myself. After all, I remember very clearly how as I was trying to figure out the whys, there were no shortage of fingers pointed my way.
That said, I don’t think there’s a set right way to handle such a catastrophic implosion, and if someone’s managed to figure it out and write the definitive how-to manual on the subject, then I best find it as soon as possible.
If there was one thing I took away from that time in my life, it was that the odds were pretty good that from here on out I was going to have to try getting by without being sustained from the reservoir I once had.
My family and the people I could honestly say I loved more than anything were gone and there was not a damn thing I could do about that. They’d said their peace and exited stage right, which meant I had to keep going with what was left.
That meant leaning on the few friends who I’d managed to not drive off, and sometimes not for lack of trying, if I’m honest.
As I sit here writing this, it terrifies me to think where I’d be if they had evaporated with everyone else. With how bad some of the truly bad days have been, they could still have been so much worse without those few remaining connections.
What also terrifies me is the realization I’ve had for the past few years that I’ve tried to ignore.
It’s hard to articulate because the last thing I want is for those people to think they’re taken for granted. I’m at the point where I can’t afford to take anyone for granted, and I wouldn’t even if my life were the polar opposite of what it is now.
But the unfortunate reality that I’ve also had to come to terms with is that for as much as that tiny bit of love and empathy has helped carry me through these five years, it’s also not enough.
It’s not anywhere in the vicinity of enough.
Whenever I think about that, which is often these days, the first question I ask myself is why? Why isn’t it enough?
We often try to convince ourselves that we can actually exist without being loved by people, no matter how much we care about them in return. The primary goal is to love ourselves, after all, for it’s our own internal reservoirs that ultimately trump everyone else’s and we’re supposed to strive for that independence at all times.
Maybe so, but then I have this question:
How is being sustained by the love we get from those people whose acceptance matters to us most considered unhealthy by comparison to how we love ourselves?
If anything, I’d think that would be just as important. After all, human beings are a tribal species. We all want to belong to someone. We want to matter and be allowed to express ourselves as authentically as possible to those someones.
Yet, we keep lying to each other and saying we’re not supposed to care what everyone else thinks.
We have a term for such antisocial people who act without any conscious regard for the opinions or feelings of others, regardless of who they are in our lives.
Those people are called sociopaths.
And like it or not, I’m not one of them, nor do I want to be.
Maybe I care too much about what people think of me, but I’ve always been that way and for good reason.
I want to be loved by the people I love. I want my existence to matter.
Except I know it doesn’t. Not really and maybe I do deserve that.
I can’t deny the fact that I’ve done a lot of things that have disappointed, frightened and hurt them, and as much as I would give anything to erase those things from my history book, I can’t.
All I can do is live with that guilt, keep going and figure out how to get through tomorrow with what I’ve got, and then the next day and the day after that in the fleeting hope that at some point, I’ll have done enough to refill the well.
Until then, however, I know there’ll be a lot of days ahead where I’ll honestly wonder if I have enough left to get me there.