Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Initiator

There are times when I am so glad to be alive, and this is one of them.

These are often times where I feel a kind of sadness, a kind of sorrow that I can't express in terms that other people will understand. It is not a sadness born of pain but a sadness born of joy, a gratitude and thankfulness and indebtedness that I cannot describe in mere words.

It is so important to feel like someone else cares about you, about whether you exist. It is important for other people to tell you that you matter.

There are some people who are initiators in relationships. They are the people who initiate the zany adventures, who reach out to others, who cling to friends and force them to stay close, who try to show them in every way they can how much these people matter to them. They try to give people the words they need, to prove to them that they are good and loved and respected. They want to show the person that they matter because that is the most important gift one can give.

But what others may forget- because they look at the initiator and see him as so strong, so creative, self-reliant and self-fulfilled- is that the initiator, too, needs to hear that he matters. He needs someone to tell him that they care whether he exists.

Well, tonight someone I love very much told me that I mattered. But it was not her voice that told it to me; it was her actions. Because she had been the one to tell me she wanted to get together with me, she had been the one to bother me and work on these plans until they were solidified, to push me until this actually happened. She had been the one to reach out to me, and that, more than a thousand words, matters to me.

The very fact that someone would like to see me always astonishes me. You mustn't put this down to low self-esteem; it's not that. It's simply that I often find other people so very compelling that I am amazed they are willing to spend their time on me. And I feel grateful and loved and overwhelmed by their kindness. And I wake up in the morning and thank God that there is someone out there in the world who thinks about me and cares about me and who notices that I am here.

Because despite all evidence to the contrary, we can sometimes feel very lonely and that validation- that message that I see you, you exist and I am glad of it- can go a very long way. You do not know how much I treasure anything I receive that comes unbidden, unasked. An email from a friend that is not in response to my own, a request from someone to see me or for us to get together for coffee- and of course, most importantly, when people act on their words, for then I know they are not merely lying, telling me something in order to be polite, but they mean what they say- they really do like me- and then I can be fiercely glad.

I live on these words that come unbidden; they are my bread and water and sustain me.


haKiruv said...

I get a bit amazed sometimes when people want to hangout with me. Or when someone says I'm a fun person, I kinda stare for a second to see if they're being sarcastic. I think a lot of that is from growing up and being the geek kid in some circles. I also find it interesting when people point out certain qualities about myself that I didn't realize I had.

However, it's not fun when your friends invite you out and hours later you find yourself down by the river regaining consciousness and your wallet missing.

That Frum Guy said...

Very true.

The best text message I received all year came from an old yeshiva friend of mine. All it said was: Thinking of you.