I’d like to thank single motherhood for introducing me to the real deal lesson I’d like to call: Nobody Cares.
And, look, before I go any further, I know people care. And I know people care about me. I am loved and I love. So, this is not an “everybody hates me, nobody loves me, I’m gonna eat some worms” sob story. Next week.
But, let’s get real: Nobody cares about your kid’s latest poop smearing on your leg and nobody cares that you are inundated with work so badly that you actually dream of post-it note monsters. Nobody cares that your dishes get more suds and deep cleaning that you. Nobody cares that you just sold your grandma’s favorite mason jar collection in order to pay the gas bill. Nobody cares about your antifungal medicine that interacted negatively with your antidepressants. Nobody cares that your child won’t go to sleep until you speak in a British accent while cooing like a pigeon seven times gently in her ear. Nobody cares that you cry every night at 9pm when you realize you’re a tapped out old woman who pines only for giant nightgowns and useless gossip.
They just don’t. Why?
Because they got massive shit of their own that they want someone to care about. And they too feel completely unappreciated in regards to their hustle. So, as soon as you bark or kavetch about your day, inside they are crying and thinking, “Oh man, you think your day was bad.”
But, we forget this all the time. And we feel entitled to appreciation from our fellow hustlers for these mundane, albeit overwhelming, aggravations in life. And, so we dump dump dump our days on the people we love as soon as we can. And now, because of the magical land of Facebook, we can now dump dump dump dump our days on people we don’t even know.
Why do we do this?
Because outside of needing appreciation, we want to be seen. And outside of being seen, we want to soothe our aches. And because it feels easier - and certainly more instantly gratifying - we call into action external coping mechanisms for the above.
Here’s the trouble with all of this. Listen up:
- The need for appreciation starts with a feeling of pain and a fear of abandonment
- When we use external coping mechanisms to soothe those two things, they act like a drug. They work for a brief, fleeting moment and then they land us hard on our asses in reality that, yes, NOBODY CARES.
- So, now we are not only feeling pain and abandonment, we’ve coupled it with total and complete disappointment.
These external soothing mechanisms, whether through people or food or booze or tv or facebook or whatever, are ill-fitted for our deep need. And, thus, our expectations for them are way way way wayyyyyyyy out of line.
What is our deep need? Our deep need is to be taken care of on a much broader more holy level. We want to be shushed, to be held, to be secure, to be reminded all is temporary, to hear a sweet gentle voice say, “There, there, everything will be ok.” Or maybe this voice you need is more raspy and drunken like a New York City retired sailor. Mine is.
In any case, as soon as you can acknowledge that these external coping mechanisms - even your beloved partners and friends - are not to be expected to meet this deep need, the sooner you will arrive at actually soothing the pain.
Now, here’s the catch. When you restrain from externalizing right away, you will experience a total confrontation with that deep dark need. It will be ugly and yucky and slimy and hurtful and dark and alone and ack get me outta here. This is when you stay put. And this is when you holler a giant HELLO to whatever suits you in the form of security. Be it God, a god, music, meditation, breathing, dancing like Michael Jackson, art, writing, reading, exercise. And then you just sit with the ugly and you have tea with it, while hanging on to one or all of the above. It might be just five minutes. Or maybe fifteen. Or maybe two days. But, you sit in this place and you hang on to what makes you feel secure internally. You feel the pain. You realize Nobody Cares. You take a breath. You grasp your security. You practice it. You ask it for help. And then you move forward with a little more perspective.
Now, super special note: This does not mean you get all positive psychology on the world and stuff your feelings and pain into tiny crevices in your guts. It does not mean you don’t ask for help. It does not mean you never express your shitty day to your loved ones. It does not mean you aren’t real. No, quite the opposite. It means you get conscious. It means you own your grit and grime and you don’t use your external world to do what it is not supposed to do. Oh, AND you get to know YOURSELF in a way you never have, as a warrior.
Here’s the beautiful thing, what you get back in return is a sense of playfulness and breath in your life, rather than disappointment and containment. And, oddly, the more conscious you are about discovering and nurturing internal coping mechanisms, the more the external world will shower you with appreciation and deep, true connection.
You got this. You’re not alone. I mean, you are when it comes to your hangnails, but the rest, yeah, you’re not alone.