During my life, and specifically in the past six months, I’ve been searching for meaning. Perhaps it’s a healthy practice in itself, but I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve searched for meaning in other people, hoping that somehow their lives would shed some light on mine. And I think people do this a lot when they feel devoid of something. I don’t think I’m the only one. People turn to many things in their quest for meaning, purpose, or knowledge. Choosing to look outside of oneself for meaning isn’t harmful in itself. However, some of the things people look for meaning in are unhealthy, and an over-reliance or dependency on anything is almost always unhealthy.
I’ve been trying to pinpoint an exact time that this started; to figure out what triggered my need for attention, approval, and devotion from other people. I don’t know the exact reason. Perhaps loss is one of them. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. Many of them have left to pursue other things and I always take it personally. I interpret their leaving as an indication that I’m not good enough for them. And if they leave and I’m no longer a part of their life, I feel even more inadequate. Needless to say, this type of response is not healthy for me. Clearly there are a lot of reasons why someone can leave that have nothing to do with me. Regardless, I become really sad and that sadness never entirely goes away. Somehow it lingers for years. It’s never there as powerfully as it is initially, but it’s always there. Happy memories with the person I’ve lost turn into painful reminders of the fact that they’re gone and I might never see them again. So what have I been doing to cope with loss? I’ve been looking to other people to fill the void. But this never works. The pain of loss is always in the back of my mind and heart, despite meeting new people. And lately, I feel like most of my new connections don’t last.
Another reason, perhaps, is that I don’t find that I can relate to too many people. It’s not too often that I feel a deep connection to someone, so when I do, I hold onto it with dear life. But a lot of the time this deep connection is one sided. I invest a lot of myself into other people. I give them my time, I help them, I’m there for them, and I don’t always get the same love in return. Despite this, I don’t want to give up on them. I feel like the mental or emotional connection is worth the effort that I put into something that I don’t get much out of. Perhaps this is due to bad self-esteem. In the back of my mind, I know I deserve better than I get. But that’s not enough to make me give up on these people. I rely on them for the connection I feel, despite the fact that most of it is probably all in my head. Sometimes, however, the connection is felt by both parties. I’m not sure whether this is any better for me. Relying on people to overcome feelings of loneliness has almost never been positive for me. My goal is to deal with the loneliness in a healthy way, by looking internally for a source of happiness. But in practice I take the short cut: I surround myself with people in order to feel less alone.
So I know what I need to do. I need to stop being so reliant on people to fill the void. I need to find some inner source of strength and meaning and stop looking for it in other people. It won’t be easy, but I’m going to try.