Doing Life Alone

A local teacher and I got to chatting while we were waiting around at that photo shoot I mentioned before.  She’s young, in her very early twenties, and is married.  Somehow we got to talking about what she’s done since she finished university and she said that at one point she considered emigrating to another country but nixed the idea because it’s difficult.  I assumed that she meant difficult in the sense that the emigration process itself can be lengthy, expensive and nerve wracking, so I said as much.  She replied, “Yes, that too.  But you don’t have any emotional support because your family isn’t there.”

This caused me to pause and reflect for a moment on my own nomadic existence and recent life decisions.  I absolutely don’t have this problem that she seems to have and never hesitate to go far, far away from my family and friends for long periods of time.  Happily, I already know that this isn’t because something is wrong with me; it’s because that’s how God made me so that I can pursue His plan and purpose for me.

So when she said this and I pondered it for a few seconds, I replied, “Well, yes, it can be hard.  But because I love to travel so much, it’s worth it to me to not have that emotional support readily available.  Besides, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet really great people, like I’ve done here, whose kindness helps with the transition.”  She seemed unconvinced but, in the moment, I took this exchange as another lesson about people being so very different from each other.

However, later on I got to thinking about her statement some more.  It’s not really as easy as I made it sound.  I mean, it’s not that difficult for me but still, it’s not a cake walk either.  I say this because sometimes I forget myself and want my family and friends’ emotional support in a particular moment but they’re not available to provide it because of time zone differences and their own life issues.  Sometimes, I forget myself and want more from my friends and family than my own life choices permit.  When that happens, it can be easy for me to feel ignored and unimportant.  Fortunately, I’ve managed to stay out of last year’s epic shame spiral that came about because of this very type of situation.  Unfortunately, I find that I still have to consciously stay out of that shame spiral.

This is one of the things that I’ve been working on in myself because I recognise that somehow I need to find a reasonable and healthy balance.  I can’t always have to talk myself down off a ledge when people take three days to respond to my messages.  It’s easy to want to slip into a pattern of negative thoughts and impulses.  I’m able to talk myself out of these patterns and impulses but I still find that I getting annoyed sometimes.  To be honest, I’m straight up tired of having to be on guard against these patterns and impulses.  I want them to be under control once and for all.  In fact, I want them to be gone entirely.  Besides, how ridiculous and perverse is it to be even vaguely annoyed at a situation created by my own lifestyle choices?

In my reflections on this conundrum, I came to the realisation and understanding that this entire situation has caused me to be not particularly dependent on people for emotional support simply because my lifestyle choices have made it impossible for people to be entirely dependable in this regard.  It sounds bad to say I’m not emotionally dependent on anyone, doesn’t it?  I recoiled from the thought myself when it first occurred to me because aren’t we supposed to need people to meet our emotional needs?  But eventually I decided that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I used to be such a people pleaser.  Most of my happiness was dependent on other people in one way or another; in fact, most of my emotional needs were met by other people.  But then, suddenly, they weren’t and I didn’t really need them to be anymore.  You know why?  Because I finally accepted that all along I had been trying to fill a God-sized hole in my heart with other people.  It sounds corny, right?  I know.  But nevertheless, it’s absolutely true.  I stopped needing people’s emotional support when I came to the realisation that, as I travel alone thither and yon, it’s just the Holy Spirit and me and He’s the only one that always has exactly what I need exactly when I need it.  Also, it’s unreasonable of me to expect people to always be available for me when I need them, particularly given my wandering life.

Of course, I’m human so I want people’s emotional support sometimes.  But do I need it?  No, I don’t.  And because I don’t need it, I can seek it when I want it but learn to set my expectations accordingly so that it’s totally OK if I don’t get it – no hard feelings, no hurt feelings, no problem.

I’m not quite there yet but I’m working on it and, God’s willing, with prayer and practice, I’ll get there soon.

I depend on God alone; I put my hope in Him.  He alone protects and saves me; He is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; He is my strong protector; He is my shelter.  Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell Him all your troubles, for He is our refuge.  Psalm 62:5-8 (GNT)

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