Recently, an apparent stranger – who knew me – commented some very kind words on one of myBlog posts (here; http://wp.me/p6WBGn-O ). It took a few hours and some total confusion on my part to figure out who this was. At one point I even messaged my best-friend-from-secondary-school asking if it was her Mum, only to click that the “C” signifying the surname on the commenter, didn’t link up to my friends maiden name, and thus her mother’s surname! I was overjoyed to discover my year 3 primary school teacher had stumbled (we all do it!) upon me and thrilled to have such kind, positive words said to me; reminding me I am worthwhile.
Just 2 days before; whilst in upholstery class, the “teacher” and some of the other “students” had also been kind enough to remind me that despite the real life nightmares and others actions, I’d shared with them, I am a kind person, and I am loved and valued. Once again I floated through the rest of that day on that little bit of kindness; essentially from strangers.
It is becoming apparent to me, that the gift of time ~ my biggest anxiety ~ is what I so crave from others. In gaining someone else’s time, in sharing time I feel worthwhile; but please; don’t give it for the sake of it, don’t fake it.
It is both sad and scary, isn’t it – I think – that I am surrounded by supportive family, friends and husband (yeah..ok, he is family 😂) and yet still I need the reassurance from anyone and everyone that I am not the ogre I have convinced myself I am, thanks to Anxiety/the way others have treated me. Deep down, I know I am a good person; else I wouldn’t have these friends and supportive family, I wouldn’t have this husband of mine because who would want to engage with such a horrible person?
I think I am not the only culprit of an ever-growing population who crave constant affirmation that they are worthwhile, important, needed. It scares me. The sense of value I felt having reconnected with a teacher who taught me 18 years ago, whom must have taught hundreds of children throughout her career, but somehow, remembered little, shy Karen – and remember me she did; the smile and those dimples. My heart sang in appreciation of being remembered.
Another friend – suffering from CFS – recently posted about how that feeling of being remembered makes such a difference to your day. You are loved, valued, wanted. Joy; in craving that remembrance for myself I have somewhat neglected you – although, – as a slight consolation (hopefully) – you aren’t alone; most of my friends this last year or so have been the ones to constantly engage with me; I honestly feel blessed to now know who my true friends are; and am surprised that I actually have a real good amount! I owe a lot of you, a lot of love; and I’m starting to get that back..
I guess I generally have a lot of love to give; I just do. Perhaps because I don’t have that baby to pour my love over? I love a cuddle, I always respond to a letter/text/email/direct message with a kiss at the end of my name, regardless of who it is (not always appropriate to your male line manager/boss!) Sometimes I over text or talk (but if I have nothing to say; no thoughts in that empty head of mine; I remain silent) and sometimes that is clearly too much for some people to handle (yet sometimes, silence is also unacceptable; I cannot win). That is me; that’s who I am and finally at 28 years and 11 months; I’m beginning to be ok with that.
And it’s ok too, if I’m too much for you, or if you’d just “rather not” because everyone is different; but I’d rather I was told than have to deal with the anxiety of whispering and bitching behind my back, before being abandoned in a time of need and leaving me a shell of the person I once was.
Sadly, not everyone is going to like, or get on with everyone. But a little bit of kindness, common decency and respect for others can go a long way to making or breaking someone. I don’t doubt for a minute I’ve not always been the best version of me in the past; and I am sorry to those people I may have hurt in the process. I know for sure, having been through this last year + of mental health hell, I would never intentionally make someone feel the way I have been made to feel by others at times. I think anyone having been through real mental health battles would agree. I don’t gossip and bitch about people behind their backs, and then feign fake over-friendliness to their faces; if we don’t get on or I don’t like you, I’ll be civil but I see no point in falsifying myself. I don’t understand why anyone would do this, to be perfectly honest, and honesty matters ~ to me more than anything. I always say what I think and am prepared to stand up for what I think is right; sometimes it might come across the wrong way and that’s my own fault for poor wording, but nonetheless, I will fight for fair.
In re-connecting with my teacher, I was surprised to read from her a similar anxiety of mine, one which has inspired the thought process behind this blog – “I’m so pleased you weren’t offended that I contacted you – one never knows how people will react.” I live in fear of hitting that “add friend” button on some of the people who regularly pop up in my “people you may know” (that I actually know!) section on Facebook. The fear, I guess, is born through that of rejection from recent past experiences; but what difference would it really make to me if I hit add on these people and they declined? Perhaps these people are stuck in the same rut as me and are afraid to hit that button directed towards me. Perhaps one day I’ll pluck up that confidence and click the button. Karen of a few years ago wouldn’t have hesitated in connecting with people I “knew” – no matter how loosely.
To be honest, I think to decline a “friend” says more about the rejector, than the instigator. In this big, and yet often sometimes ~ somehow scarily small ~ wide world we live in, I don’t think you can ever have too many friends, or acquaintances, or people of support. Your support network can never be too strong. I know I bang on and on about it like a broken record, but kindness, simple kindness, really is that little piece of magic in someone else’s day.
Thank you, Mrs Cooke (!), after all these years, for your kindness and care. Petrified, age 7, of my teacher, growing to a fondness, age 9, and 20 years later; a friend.