Addicted to validation

There are plenty of explanations as to why some people want to sit in the sticky spaghetti sauce of pain and melodrama. Today, I’m going to go into just one–the one that I’ve personally dealt with, therefore the one I know the most about.

We’ve all heard about fair-weather friends. We’ve all had them, too. They’re there for you during the good, but as soon as the clouds start rolling in, they’re out the door. Nobody thinks about stormy-weather friends, though–the friends that are there for you in the bad, but leave when the clouds roll out.

I remember a time in seventh grade when I was having a bad day in a bad month in a bad year. This girl, whom I wasn’t particularly close to, came up and asked me if I was alright. “No, not really,” I muttered in response, staring down at whatever I had for lunch that day. The girl looked at me sympathetically. “Do you want to talk about it?” Of course, I thought. She popped the ‘do you want to talk’ question. Great. This time, however, I decided to give it a try–after all, who else would I talk to about it? My sandwich? That’s a real listening ear. Actually, corn would be a listening ear. (Sorry. I had to.) Anyway, I told her a little (a little, I’m careful about who I trust) about what was bothering me, she listened to me, then walked away. She never made an effort to talk to me again. Sure, we’d have cordial conversation during math class, and we’d smile at each other in the hallways, but that was it. That was the extent of our friendship. 

That’s a stormy-weather friend. They’re the sympathetic, well-meaning souls who gather around you, pat your back, and give you tissues when you’re crying, but are never as eager to be around you when you’re okay. They go back to their better friends and sort of forget about you.

As much as I hated (and I mean hated) crying in front of other people, something was strangely comforting about being surrounded by those tissue-givers. They were caring about me. They were paying attention to me. I was mattering to somebody. I felt like if I wasn’t in pain, these people would never give a single thought about me ever again, which, in some cases, was true.

But in many cases, it wasn’t. Because of all my lies (feeling unwanted, unloved, etc.) I felt that I would never truly matter to anybody. When I was hurt, people seemed to care–and that was something. Something was better than nothing. I’d never lie about experiences (I hate when people do that), but when I started feeling sad, I did little things to keep myself there so I would keep mattering. Once I’d start to feel okay again, I was afraid people would leave me, and I’d be lonely again.

Eventually, I got addicted to the pain. Maybe it wasn’t even the pain I was addicted to. Maybe it was the validation I received from others when I was in pain, the feeling that I mattered. I wanted the tissue-givers to stay there. Even with people I knew would always be there for me, I still felt that they’d leave me because I wasn’t good enough. They’d abandon me because I “didn’t need them anymore.”

I’m still sorting all this out in my head. It doesn’t all make sense to me. All I know is that I’m now making the decision to believe that I matter all the time. I’m not blaming this on anyone, by the way. It was all my decision. Again, I’m just trying to make sense of it. This is what I’m doing half the time with this blog. Something doesn’t make sense to me, or I have a burning desire to write about something, so I write it and I feel better. I never really have an outline or a plan for these blogs. I improvise, do a quick run-through when I’m finished, and hit publish.

Anyway, the trick is to believe that you matter. You are important and loved all the time, not just when you’re upset. Don’t be a stormy-weather friend, be an all-weather friend. Don’t just say “I’m there for you when you’re in pain,” but also say “I’m there for you when you’re not in pain.”

It makes a huge difference.



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