Saturday, July 29, 2017


Herself speaks.

When I was young, I was very much a rule-follower: do what you are told, do all the right things, do not do any of the wrong things. My motivation was simple -- when you behave properly, you get what you need. (I did not identify it in so many words back then; yet we are all creatures of id at such a small age, and are driven by simple needs: if I am "good", I will be loved, cared for, supported.) I tried very hard.

As I approach the half-century mark, I am still very much a rule follower -- and still likely motivated on occasion by similar reasoning. Those ancient habits are thoroughly ingrained.

With this in mind, I have come to understand that I still periodically long for external support and validation: in the parlance of a toddler, that I am a good girl. It would be meaningful for me to hear from another person that I am doing the right things, that I should not worry because it will turn out fine in the end. That someone will gladly help me and take care of me. That it will be OK.

I yearn for such words, to bring consolation and support when I am fraught -- words that, like cool water, wash clean the burns of daily life and bring soothing and healing.

Yet: to hope for such words from others is both foolish and infantile.

The world is, ultimately, indifferent to a single human being. Even when we have people who love us -- and I do, this I know -- it is critical to remember that such people are still their own individuals, with their own needs, goals, desires, plans. We cannot make other people care for us in the way that we care for them. We cannot mentally will other people to say what we would like to hear, or to give us what we need. Like blood from a stone, as the saying goes.

In the end, we can only take what others willingly give.

This may, at first glance, seem to be a bitter truth: yet to accept this truth is to free oneself from unrealistic hopes. And in this freedom, there is a certain peace.

And so, I will talk to myself.

I am here for you. I know you are doing the best you can. And it will all be OK in the end.

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