Sunday, December 2, 2012

Loneliness and the Value of the Self

I have only recently just appreciated how much of an impact our relationships have over how we react to experiences in our lives. In the past, I judged bad experiences based on what I considered the "bad"-ness of the circumstance. But recently, I have realized that there really is a different scale in each of us when it comes to experiences. And that underneath the circumstances, it all boils down to the feeling of being loved and valued.

I've been there. I've been to a point when you feel unloved. And you feel that you deserve to be unloved because you're unlovable and unloving. Of course, that's a lie spoken by a treacherous heart that's just been hurt. Treacherous because it doesn't want to cooperate with you when you tell it to calm down and be quiet. A lie because there are actually people who love you. Like your family and friends.

But whether there really is someone who loves you or not, at that particular point of time, when you don't feel loved or valued, when you feel alone and unnecessary, that's when despair kicks in. I have a friend who was betrayed by her boyfriend of ten years. And to her, life sometimes becomes unbearable because she doesn't feel like anybody actually cares. That if she dies, nobody is going to miss her. Whether that's true or not, that's what she feels. And this feeling is what would drive her to consider permanent escape and other such unpleasant things. (I care, though, so don't do anything stupid. Please.)

When I was in Japan, people ended their lives for what some of us would consider petty things. Like not being able to find a job, or not being able to fit in, or getting embarrassed. But underneath it all, they ended their lives because they felt unloved. They killed themselves because they felt they were all alone in this world. Most of the cases I heard about were students from outside the capital coming to Tokyo to study. They would live alone in Tokyo. Then when they felt they couldn't fit in or make friends, they jumped in front of the train. And we can't really judge them because the feeling of being alone is really intensified in a very polite society like Japan. I've been there. I know.

I also heard of a case of a woman jumping off the 24th story of a building in Ortigas recently. They said she took her life because her husband, who was a seaman, was coming home, and she was three-months-pregnant with another man's child. Some people would say she didn't have to kill herself. Some people would say she could just have ended the pregnancy. Or she could have confessed to her husband. The marriage could end, but hey, life goes on. But we really couldn't judge her because we don't know what she was going through. It's a high possibility that she felt that she had to deal with this daunting problem alone, and there was no one there to help her.

Things happening recently has made me stop and think. If depression and despair strikes me again, are the current relationships in my life enough to make me feel loved? I believe in God, and He has been my Anchor through my dark days. But I know that having good relationships help make going through the dark days easier. The people around us are God's gifts to us, after all.

On the other side, I also had to think, will my friends feel alone if they are struck by depression and despair? The answer is already a yes for one of my friends. Do I care about my friends? Yes, I do. Do they know that? Do they feel that? And the answer is no.

I'm going to remedy this. This is not going to be easy for me. I'm not really an expert at showing affection. But I'm going to try. Because the truth is I value my friends highly, but many of them don't know that. And I don't want them to go into depression thinking that nobody cares. I care.

I appeal to the people reading this. In this day and age, it is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own busyness that we forget friends or take them for granted. Or we think that what they're going through couldn't possibly be worse than what we ourselves are going through. Let us reach out again. Let us re-connect. Really re-connect. Let's have coffee. Let's have lunch. Heck, let's have breakfast if that's all we could spare. And let us show each other that someone actually cares.

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