I spent time the other day with a new friend, someone I met not too long ago, but instantly felt a connection with; a strong familiarity. We spoke about many things: family, politics, books, travel, etc. There wasn’t an awkward silence or an uncomfortable moment; a most pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Many aspects of this conversation struck me, and when it was over, and we said goodbye, I couldn’t stop thinking about myself and my place in this world through the eyes of this human being.
I grew up alone in many ways. I am an only child with divorced parents with whom I was and am deeply involved, but my other family members, beside the grandparents I lived with for six years in a hellish home, were scarcely in my life. I never had the closeness I craved: no loving circle of aunts, uncles, or cousins, or close family friends. I would always look at people I knew who had places to go and people to spend holidays with, the ones with abundant camaraderie and warmth centered around their bloodline. That would lead me to feeling unwanted and unlucky.
As I grew up, I desperately needed to be noticed and seen. I pretended that I didn’t need anyone, that I had an independence and didn’t need validation from the outside world, but that was not true; it was a way for me to try and mask the emotional pain that festered within me. The hurt was so pervasive that I became extremely self-deprecating and lived permanently in a dark night of the soul. I desired guidance, mentorship and direction, someone to lead me through this abyss of alienation.
What I’m getting at is how crucial it is to feel the interest of others, to know that your life is being seen by people who have an authentic curiosity and investment in how your life progresses. I had a glimpse of that feeling while sitting with this wonderful, insightful, brilliant person who gets me, who looked at me deeply, not just my appearance or my resume, and sees through the surface to the unique person I am. To feel appreciated is priceless, and how different our world would be if everyone received recognition for the creation they are. So much pain from feelings and experiences of being unloved, of being treated as insignificant and deemed worthless, leads to devastation and destruction of mass proportions that denies so many of us the beautiful, fulfilling lives that we deserve to live.
Animals, on the other hand, are always paying close attention. My cat Bubby stops right in front of me and stares every time she walks in the room. Even when I’m immersed watching T.V or reading a book, she waits with her penetrating gaze until I acknowledge her and touch her body. She is teaching me many things, but this particular lesson is that I am worth stopping for and being paid attention to. I appreciate her appreciation and, no matter what’s going on, I let her know that I’m thankful for this most important reminder.
I’m honest about my needs even if they come across as selfish to others. I want to be loved.