For someone who fears math, I sure pay a lot of attention to numbers. My eating disorder counts calories, perfectionism analyzes grades, and OCD (ok, I have not been officially diagnosed but several professionals have told me that I have it) makes certain numbers safe and necessary to follow. My obsession with numbers also plays a role in my blogging. Every day, I excitedly check my stats with the hope that they will rise. If not, I just remind myself of how much each comment, like, and view means to me. Focusing on trying to help others encourages me to keep on writing no matter if many people are viewing my work or not. Even touching one person would make all of my work worth it.
Yesterday, however, I felt my heart sink as I viewed my number of followers. It had dropped. For the first time, someone had chosen to abandon me and my writing. Negative assumptions filled me right away. What had I said that was offensive? Was I too ugly in my pictures? Maybe I had triggered someone instead of helping them. Miserable, I forgot to be grateful for all of the wonderful people who do read my blog. Instead I felt alone.
This fear of abandonment is a common feeling for me. Although I dread social events, I long to be invited and mournfully look at the pictures of grinning friends on Facebook. My fear of others keeps me stuck in the pit of loneliness. Gradually, I step forward each day attempting to connect with the world around me. This very blog is an example of that. Tiny but real, my progress continues to go in the right direction. I still have a long way to go but I will eventually make it.
Yet, impatience and criticism bug me by pointing out only my mistakes. So, when I see that I have one less friend on Facebook, I fight back depression. I have to remind myself that people can choose to do what they like with their time. Maybe they simply want a few less friends to keep up with on social media. Perhaps their decision to eliminate me has more to do with them than with anything I have said or done.
As hard as it is, I have to learn not to take everything personally. People are allowed to have feelings, make choices, and go through life without me playing a role in it. Whether my mother fumes about bad news or an acquaintance hates the color pink, their responses have little if anything to do with me. I can only control myself. Sure, I can try to influence and inspire those around me. But that is it. I do not have any magical powers to make people love me or miraculously be happy. By being the best version of myself and becoming healthy, I will be able to have a positive impact on – but not control of – the world.
Back to my stats, I am still rather sad and also worried. If I offended anyone, I would really like to know. Honestly, the questioning causes far more anxiety than the truth. However, I am so grateful for each and every one of my followers. You have no idea how much joy and hope you have brought to me. I also hope that I have encouraged and inspired you.
My fear of being abandoned is still strong. Since before I can remember, this has haunted me. Yet I try to remember that I am surrounded by a safe and loving family. Although I often feel lonely, there are many wonderful friends who have greatly changed my life. Plus there are all of you who are reading this. I might feel alone but I am really being held figuratively (and sometimes literally) by safe and caring arms. Thank you for reminding me that I am never truly deserted. Likewise, I am with you in my heart, encouraging and reminding you of your worth!