I saw the above quote flutter through my FB feed, and I thought: yes, how true.
Then I thought: actually, do I have people in my life that lift me up? Not literally, obviously, or else the hospital would be littered with broken backs. But seriously, is there anyone who makes me feel worthwhile, needed, appreciated, or loved? And the sad answer is: no, not really.
There are moments in my life where things happen and I feel appreciated, but these are few and far between. The kids will tell me that they love my cookies or muffins. My partner will tell me that the meal was tasty. However, when I think about it, often their words are rarely offered spontaneously. Instead, they are generally muttered in polite response to my prompt asking them if they are nice.
Nobody tells me I am beautiful, that I look pretty today. In fact, my kids think it is hilarious to call me fat-bum (and they are being honest, not mean). Nobody nourishes my spirit. Nobody feels it necessary to check to see if I am okay; if I need anything.
It must be nice having someone who lifts you up. Someone who waters and tends to your very being, cultivating it as though it were a precious flower, allowing it to grow strong and beautiful and tall. It must feel special to know that someone wants to embrace everything that makes you, you, without wanting something in return for themselves.
So, what happens to those of us that don’t have someone to lift them up? What happens to our self-esteem, self-worth and self-belief? Well, it can flounder; that’s what. I have always struggled with low self-esteem, am hyper-critical, have doubt in who I am, and my abilities. It’s people like me who need an up-lifter more than others.
You see; I do it. I do it for others. I know they need encouragement, praise, comfort and compliments. I do it instinctively, because I know what they need, because that’s what I need. So, why don’t others do the same? This is a question I struggled with for most of my life, and the answer always used to be the same: because they didn’t care about me. Their failure to see what I craved to the core of my existence was just that: their failure.
However, I know now that this is wrong. This is not true. This is not about them not liking me, not wanting to make me happy. Most people behave in a way that feels complementary to who they are; it would be absurd and arrogant to expect them to behave in any other way.
So, the change in perspective; the reason for the about turn? Well, partly due to maturity. As you grow older, you well, grow. You become more comfortable in your own body (which I find so hilariously ironic: I hated my skinny, toned 20-something body with a passion, yet love the saggy, wrung-out mass of skin I am left with today!). This is partly it. But the biggest self-revelation has come through realising that I am a highly sensitive person. That knowledge has cleared my mind of so many uncertainties, issues and self-doubt; produced a light-bulb moment with enough wattage to supply Times Square.
Now, I no longer feel the odd-one out; actually, scratch that. I do still feel that way, but now it makes sense: there is a biological reason for my oddity, my insecurities, my social cravings. There is a reason why my needs were so blindly missed by others; why I never felt nurtured, or needed. I realised that the way I think and feel is not the same as them, and in doing so, has offered me a huge amount of clarity, and relief. A relief that flows through me, allowing me to believe that perhaps they do care, just don’t feel the need to show it in a way that makes sense to me. In fact, it isn’t that at all: they don’t know how to show it in a way that makes sense to me.
That’s definitely a-weight-off-shoulders moment, if ever there was one. I am accepting of who I am, and accepting of who they are. We are meeting at the middle; not always squarely, but meeting none the less.
And that makes me feel good about myself. I don’t need someone to lift me up; I can do that all on my lonesome!