Monday, November 07, 2005

Don't depend on others for your happiness

(OK, this is probably going to be the most personal post I have made so far. I'm not writing this for sympathy. It is more for self-exploration, and I figure if someone else can learn something useful in it, so much the better.)

About three and a half years ago, I had the most devastating emotional experience of my life. I was engaged to be married and it all suddenly came to an end. Obviously there are always two sides to every story, so I am not even going to attempt to lay the blame on someone else. The point is, the end of that relationship had a severe impact on me. It took me at least a year to get back to a somewhat normal emotional state. What I finally realized while I was coming to terms with this loss was I had been depending on someone else for my happiness rather than just being happy by myself. For the past 3 years or so since then, I've been trying to remember that lesson and just be happy on my own. I haven't even attempted to date anyone for the past 3 years. Instead, I have tried to just spend time with friends, enjoying their company.

Unfortunately, what I am beginning to realize is I am now having the same problem of depending on others for my happiness, but perhaps on a somewhat smaller scale. Even with my friends I tend to become too attached or needy and find on the days my friends are not available, I tend to get a bit melancholy. And then with my closest friends - those who mean the most to me - I tend to be totally insecure about their friendships. I am frequently thinking that I'll eventually do something annoying to drive these close friends away. So, I am always expecting the end of the friendship, reading into anything that might hint that I am wearing out my welcome. (It's a pretty stressful way to live, I must admit. And it makes me realize I am still depending on others for my happiness.)

Sometimes I wish I was the type of person that has so much confidence in themselves that I wouldn't care what other people think, that if it turns out a friend doesn't like me anymore and doesn't like something I've done, that's the friend's problem, not my own. But that's not really who I am. I am trying to always improve my character, and one of the ways I work on that is through feedback from the opinions of people I respect - i.e. my closest friends. It's not that I will do things that I don't philosophically agree with just for acceptance from my friends (I wouldn't choose them as friends in the first place if we didn't share the same values), but it's a more subtle thing. If it seems something I have done is bothering someone, I'll try to figure out what that might be and how I might avoid it in the future. But, it still seems to get back to the point that I am depending on others for my happiness. If I don't feel "accepted" by those who mean the most to me, then I end up an emotional wreck trying to figure out what I might have done wrong.

What I really need is a better way to measure my self-worth on my own rather than depending on others. At least, that's what I'm thinking right now. But, I can't live life in isolation. The interaction with people is what life is all about. I just wish I didn't get so attached to people. It reminds me of a Buddist quote: "He who loves 50 people has fifty woes. He who loves no one has no woes." But is the point of that that you shouldn't love anyone, or is it more that you should just expect to have some suffering since there will be people in your life who you will love?

Hmmmm.... I must think on this some more. In the meantime, I'll just have to get used to feeling like an emotional wreck at times. Gah!