If I had a prayer, it would be this: “God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.” In my last blog post, I shared that quote from Byron Katie’s brilliant book, Loving What Is, saying that it needs to be my prayer. I also said “As long as I look to anyone outside myself for love, approval or appreciation, I am bound to be disappointed or afraid of being.” Amen to that, too!
At the time, I was experiencing the most outlandish verbal assaults ever directed my way. They came out of the blue from an old friend who purports and has reason to appreciate me, and whom I really want to support. Pretty disturbing stuff, even though I understand it isn’t personal.
I return to Katie’s prayer again now because I realized this morning there’s another situation that calls me to heed her drastic stance. Although the spurning I am experiencing this time around is far more subtle and less critical to my long-term wellbeing than the other one (and it may not be spurning at all), there is a distinct parallel between my unhappy reactions that bares examination.
While I am hardly obsessing about the current matter as I have about the other, it lingers on in the back of my mind. It causes me to feel less than good about myself and uncomfortable about how to deal with the people involved when I run into them again, which I am sure to do. That, of course, suggests I am playing a significant part in my unhappiness. It’s a part I must own up to—and really own—if I am to heal my little girl heart from the wounds it apparently still carries.
To be whole, let alone holy, I must try to understand and embrace my disappointment and discouragement about this possible rejection, instead of merely wishing them away. The details are so absurd that if I hadn’t already published a book called Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, I might be too embarrassed to tell you. But here it is: Last month, I met two women who seemed particularly interesting and—here’s the (ego) catch—particularly interested in me.
Such a winning combination doesn’t occur all that often. Many people are interesting, at least from the perspective of their résumé. But some are so self-absorbed that we talk only about them during our entire first conversation, and (if there are such) the second and third conversations as well. While I find this happens more often with men—sorry guys!—it happens with women too.
The other common scenario is people who are interested in me but whom I don’t find all that interesting. So when I meet not one, but two women with whom I seem to share meaningful common ground, and who express genuine interest in me, my ego and I are delighted. I imagine—no, I hope—we will see each other again and be friends. Anything wrong with that?
Well, while you and I might not think so, maybe there is. You’ll probably agree that my reaction to the situation was rather normal, and how I followed up appropriate. Both women, whom I met within a week of each other, said they would check out my website. One appeared really enthusiastic about my book, took my card and promised to be in touch soon. The other talked me up excitedly for 10 minutes and suggested we exchange contact information. She promised to invite me to her house to continue our discussion, about a topic of interest primarily to her.
So when I heard nothing from either woman after several days, I took the initiative and sent off warm emails. I said how much I’d enjoyed meeting each of them and how I hoped we would reconnect. I offered to follow up on the matter one had said she wanted to pursue with me.
It’s been three weeks, and I’ve received nothing but a standard LinkedIn request from one, though I also thanked her for her request. Nary a word from either acknowledging my emails.
What the hell is going on?
That, dear readers, is what I find myself still wondering a little too often for my own good. Now that I’ve laid it out, I see the explanation could be simple enough. Maybe the women didn’t get my emails, or I didn’t get theirs, though it’s unlikely all went astray. Or maybe they are so caught up in their busy lives they don’t have time for a new friend. Maybe they decided I wasn’t that interesting (obviously the explanation I like least!). Or it’s something else. Who knows?
Whatever it is, here’s the bottom line in terms of my own development: I thought these two women were pretty darned cool and I wanted their friendship a little too much. I don’t want to have wanted it, but I did (though I see I am writing in the past tense, a sign I may be moving on).
The problem, of course, is that there was at least a hint of neediness in my wanting so much to hear from them and have them become friends. Perhaps they picked up on it and were put off. Either way, that neediness-I-hate-to-feel speaks volumes about my self-worth and my self-care.
It says I am not free of the desire for love, approval or appreciation. And I want it from others because I do not yet give enough of it to myself. God bless me, and God bless us all in our ignorance of our beauty—and in the painful fears and desires our ignorance creates.
Perhaps this is a good place to stop and drop into my heart, the one almost sure way to connect with the deep-down Self who knows that I am beautiful and that I am enough. To land there, I may need to cry a bit. I’ll see if I can work up gratitude for the two friends-who-may-never-be, for showing me where I am not yet free and bringing me back to my knees to pray with Katie:
God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.
As long as I look to anyone outside myself for love, approval or appreciation—or even for friendship—I am bound to be disappointed or afraid of being. And I am not free. May I please do what it takes to love, approve of and appreciate myself, and to value my freedom above all else. More soon about what it takes. Meanwhile, thank you for holding my hand as I confess my fears and desires, in my quest for clarity and liberation, and in hopes you’ll feel free to share yours.