How often do you give others your full attention?
How often do you feel others give you theirs?
To feel valued and accepted, and for others to feel that you value and accept them, your full attention is important.
This is what I realised today. This is what hit me with the full force of a hurricane, today.
It is an exchange that requires mutual participation for everyone to be happy and satisfied. And as much as this sounds like a public information notice, the gravity and the levity of that statement is the cure to a global epidemic.
My whole life I have spent looking at the back of people’s heads. Giving them my full attention, and hoping, just hoping that they’ll turn around and give me theirs. Long experience has taught me that they seldom do. And if they do it’s either because they want me to go away, or they fear that I might. But it never occurs to them that I might just want them to look at me in the way that I look at them. I might just want to feel as important to them as I’ve convinced myself they are to me.
I was taught early on to treat others as you wish to be treated. What I wasn’t taught is that, although logical, the premise only works if all participants hold that belief. If valuing others as you wish to be valued yields poor results, then clearly it’s not effective. If in valuing others, others take you for granted, then the premise is faulty. The relationship is unequal, and sadly of little benefit, to you that is. And by that I mean me.
What it says, is that you/I ought to find better company; but through long experience you/I learn that that kind of company is hard to find.
I have learned, that that kind of company is almost impossible to find, and even more difficult to sustain, once you think you have it. I have learned through long experience, that life is lonely. Life is shaped like the back of someone’s head. A head that seldom turns to acknowledge your dedicated presence.
I don’t want people to look at the back of my head either, I want them to look at my face. I want them to see what I see. I want them to feel what I feel, to laugh when I laugh, to cry when I cry. To feel connected in a way that only eye-to-eye contact will allow. I don’t want them to see the meaning in the metaphor, but to take the statement literally. To comprehend that we want the same thing. To know that no matter what, you have my full attention as I have yours.
If you think this selfish, then you are clearly not for me, and my full attention is misguided and it wasn’t meant for you. I gave it, but you didn’t earn it. And if you earned it, then you didn’t look after it. Still, it isn’t for you.
As I piece through the wind-tossed wreckage of my life, I am marvelling at the way the sunlight illuminates the devastation, and horrified at the irreparable damage.
I feel like a victim and a war criminal. No longer able to define my role. No longer able to breathe without my heart wanting to implode, and disappear into the mess.
I would rather look at nothing than spend one more hour looking at the back of your damned head.
I’m tired. Exhausted with my unrequited vigil.
No longer wanting to keep my eyes open.
No longer needing your unwanted approval.
No longer hoping for the impossible to be possible.
As I depart, I see you turn your head.
Our eyes connect briefly, and for a moment…
But as always, it’s a moment too late.
As ever, the moment has passed.
*Written in February 2016