One Upmanship

Have you ever walked into a room, surrounded by many, many people, but felt as though you don’t belong? No one notices you, no one acknowledges you, you’re there – but you may as well be invisible. It’s too hard to walk up to people that you know, in one of the groups – what if they don’t want you there? What if they’re having lots of fun without you – you’ll just be ruining their fun surely? What if the reason that they’re enjoying themselves so much is because you’re not with them?

The times that you are surrounded by people can be the loneliest.

If you’ve never felt that way – be thankful. It’s an awful feeling. And the worst thing is – to admit that you feel this way from time to time – it feels as if there is a huge stigma attached to it. People are meant to be like wolves aren’t we? Survival is guaranteed if you’re in a pack – lone wolves – just how well do they fare on their own?

If you told somebody that you broke your leg over the weekend – they would be able to see the cast, they would see you painfully hobbling about, they would see you on crutches possibly. Because of all the visuals, most people would have empathy for you straight away. You’re in pain, I get it, let me help you, what do you need?

It’s nothing new, what I’m about to say, but I feel that it cannot be said enough. When people are going through pain internally, battling demons that no one else can see on a daily basis – they hide the pain, we choose not to see their pain – and we judge them. We are impatient with them. Their behaviour seems weird to us. Why? Because we cannot see their bandages, their casts, their crutches. They seem fine. And we judge them.

You want to know why someone is so messed up as an adult? Take a good look at their upbringing. Low-self esteem, low self-confidence, feeling unlovable, feeling uninteresting, negative body image, feeling stupid and unintelligent – so many of these issues stem from pain that people went through in their childhood. Each of those things – a huge demon that you constantly fight with every day – all because your primary care givers never made you believe in your self worth. They helped chip away at you everyday. Constant criticism of your intelligence, how uninteresting you are, not wanting to spend time with you, your unpleasing physical appearance… Yes, you may have been fed, clothed, housed, educated – but you have also been given shadows, spirits, invisible beasts that appear all too often to tell you how worthless you are.

No one can see them. No one can hear them. Only you.

Parents have a lot to answer for. I will say it. Parents have children – and they have a duty. I know this because I am one. It is my duty and my children’s right to be fed, clothed, housed, educated – and most of all, loved. I am not doing them any favours by spending money and time on them That is their right. It was my choice to have them. They deserve the best of whatever I am able to give them. They are the most precious people in my life. Why wouldn’t I let them know this? Why wouldn’t I praise their intelligence and make them feel incredible about themselves? Why wouldn’t I try to converse with them and make them understand that their opinions, their points of view, their conversations are interesting and matter? Why wouldn’t I praise how strong and beautiful they are? Why wouldn’t I send them out into the world, feeling equipped to take life on?

Too many people feel that they have no one to turn to – because that stems from their childhood. Parents not having the time to be interested in the little things that their children want to share with them. Their own worries and problems being all-consuming. These patterns that people fall into become habits. A little child tells you that they fell over and now they’re hurt. You don’t want to make it into a big deal, it’s not a major graze, you tell them to stop being silly, it’ll be fine. You go one step further, you tell them about a time that you were knocked over by a car and got hurt. That was serious! What they’re going through – that little graze – is nothing! The child skips away. You congratulate yourself on great parenting. You are a survivor, you were knocked over by a car, you were so brave, everyone told you so, and now look at you – a fully grown adult, with all kinds of responsibilities – look how far you’ve come.

You see the problem comes when a child’s issues, their pain is constantly dismissed by the people they love the most.

Oh you’ll be fine, that happened to me too and I’m alright!

Oh you’re always complaining about something, what is it? Nothing? Well it can’t have been that important then, can it?

You think that’s bad? Well, this is what happened to me and look at me, I’m fine!

The most incredible feeling in the world is when you meet people who actually see you. To whom you are no longer invisible. If you’re in pain, it matters to them. They want to help, they want to listen, they want to take your troubles away. They enjoy your company and like spending time with you. To them, you’re not boring and trivial. They quite like the way you look. And most important of all, they listen.

One upmanship on pain – on who suffered the most in their life is futile. Pain is pain. Worries are worries. You can’t compare one person’s plight with another. What we should do, as decent human beings is just listen to one another. Share our problems and worries – not make someone else feel that our issues are more serious than somebody else’s.

On Thursday night, I discovered that a good friend of mine, has cancer. Bloody cancer. I listened, let her talk. Talk through the shock of discovering what she had. The fears that she felt. The pain of having to tell people about her illness. Do you know what eventually brought a smile to her face? Listening to my woes – that paled in comparison to hers – but made her feel better because she had spoken to me about her troubles, and listening to my miniscule issues, took her mind elsewhere. Not once did she say, ‘Why are you worrying about that? At least you don’t have cancer!’

I think what I’m trying to say is that many people are carrying a huge amount of hurt and pain inside them, which could be alleviated if people simply took the time to sit and talk and listen to each other. Look out for the invisible people. The ones who look lost and simply need bringing into the fold. Make sure they’re ok. We complain don’t we, that the world isn’t a great place to live. People just aren’t kind and don’t care for each other anymore. Well, let’s try to be those kind, caring people ourselves. Not the ones who make everything about themselves. The ones who make others blossom in their presence. The ones who make other people feel like they matter. Then, who knows? The world might just start becoming a better place.

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