Ever go to give someone a handshake, or a high-five...and they just look at you, and leave you hanging?
Ever played hide and seek, and no one comes to find you?
Right or wrong, accurate or not, that's how I feel most of the time.
The old saying goes:
"The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease"But what about the non-squeaky wheels?
I guess no one likes to feel like they are a "high maintenance" person, but we all need a little grease now and then. It feels weird having to ask "Will you please pursue me and do things that show me I am loved?" but that is where I am at.
This is really really hard for me.
It is hard for me to even write about this let alone personally tell people who may be involved in my life. It is hard for a few different reasons. It is hard because:
- I don't want to come off as self-pitying
- I don't want to fish for compliments
- I don't want to draw attention to myself
- I have a hard time asking for help or communicating my needs because I don't want to burden anyone
- I'm afraid I'm making a big deal out of nothing
- Others have worse problems
- I guess deep down, I worry no one will care
- I guess deep inside, I worry I don't really matter
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of KeithBut that would sound like I am equating myself with happiness.
Really all I want to do is vent a little bit. Maybe if I can just lay this all out there and say it multiple times in a variety of ways and get this off my chest I will feel better about it all.
Here goes: For a long time now, I have felt pretty much un-pursued by other people. I pursue others, they don't pursue me. I don't think that is OK anymore, and I need to say it hurts.
My wife knows I love her. She knows for a variety of reasons. But it is still right and good for me to tell her, often. I can't just assume she knows and never say or do anything again.
And it is good for me to be intentional about showing her in ways that are meaningful for her. The two main ways she receives love are through Acts of Service and Quality Time. Knowing this, I try hard to do thoughtful things for her and spend time with her doing things she loves to do. I'm not perfect, but I think I do a pretty good job. I think this on my own, but she tells me so as well.
It is really important for me to say here that she knows the way I give and receive love, and she does them. She tries to, anyway. It is hard, and we've both acknowledged that. But I want to say very clearly that we are working together on learning how to love each other better.
But my wife is just one of the many many people I know. She is just one of the many people I care about. She is just one person. There are others who also have told me that I do a good job of making them feel loved and cared for in ways which are meaningful to them. I don't hear it all the time, and it hasn't been a lot of people, but I think it is a representative sample.
I try to pay attention to (and sometimes even ask) how others feel loved, and then I try to do those things, along with the ways I naturally express love. I do it because it comes naturally to me. But even when it doesn't come naturally, I do it anyway because it is the right thing to do, and people matter. I don't do this to get people to like me (at least not consciously). I do it so they feel my love and care for them and so they know they matter to me and to God.
I just wish I felt the same in return. The two main ways I receive and express love are through Specific Spoken (or Written) Words of Encouragement and Physical Touch. But it often feels to me no one reaches out to me in these ways. No one comes up and gives me a hug or a shoulder squeeze just to let me know I'm loved. No one takes the time to look in my eyes and say meaningful things to me about how I matter to them or to God. And sometimes it is really hard for me to recognize the ways others do choose to show me love, so it feels to me like they are not. But knowing the hurt is sometimes from my inabiity to recognize someone else's expression of love doesn't make it hurt any less, you know?
I mean, I believe in my head people love and care for me -- I just don't, you know feel it in my heart. It's like, if I died tonight a lot of people would come to my funeral and say really really really nice things about what a great guy I was and how much they'll miss me.
Why can't they tell me now, in person, when it really matters?
Growing up I never felt a "part" of things -- always longed to be included but never felt I was. I remember my parents telling me (when I bemoaned my sister's lack of interest in playing with me) "You need to learn to play by yourself". That got old quick. If I was hurting emotionally, it got shut down, shoved aside, or belittled. What I learned from all this was:
- "you don't matter"
- "your soft emotions aren't OK"
- "you are a burden to me/us"
It feels good when someone says "how are you?" and they really mean it. And I guess that's why when I ask someone, I really mean it. When I do ask it, I listen, and really try to focus on the other person.
I was taught "If you want a friend, be a friend" and "If you want to receive love, you need to give love." So I try to do that. The Golden Rule says (my paraphrase of Jesus here) "Treat others the way you would like them to treat you" and all that makes a lot of sense. I think I try really hard to be compassionate and notice people's feelings. I try really hard to show them they matter; they're loved. It feels good to me when I experience someone else's communication of love and care, so I like it that I am able to give that warm-fuzzy feeling to others.
If I walk into a room and see someone standing by themselves, I am drawn to them, want to love on them because I know what it feels like to go unnoticed. I know that feeling because if I am standing alone in a room full of people, no one walks up to me. No one checks on me. No one shows care for me. No warm-fuzzies for me ("you don't matter").
Sometimes I feel so alone. It seems to me I am so often the one asking others about their lives and so rarely the one being asked -- or if someone does ask and I begin to tell them, they back off and disconnect emotionally. I can tell by the look in their eyes or their body language they didn't really mean they cared how I was doing, and now they're sorry they asked because they're getting more than they bargained for ("you're a burden").
I am the one pursuing others; checking on others to see if there is anything I can do or say to make them feel more loved and connected. But it is a lonely place. I mean, I love it when someone does feel connected and loved because of me. But I am tired of feeling alone; tired of feeling like no one ever comes to me to ask me how the heck I'm doing and then really listen and care when I start to talk.
Maybe my standards are set too high -- maybe I'm expecting too much.
Maybe I am being melodramatic, over-sensitive, and self-indulgent.
Maybe people care about me and they just don't know how to express it.
Maybe people care about me and I just don't understand their expressions of it.
Maybe I waited too long to say anything.
Maybe I put up walls that have signs on them that say "I'm fine, don't bother asking" or "I'm strong -- you don't need to check on me because I don't need anyone" or maybe the signs on the walls just say "go away". If so, and you care about me, please disregard these signs. The real me is dying to feel loved and cared for. The real me is dying to feel pursued.
Maybe God is leading me to a place where His pursuit of me is all that really matters.
All I know is I don't like hurting and I don't like feeling left out. I am tired of feeling left alone and un-pursued and unrequited and unloved.