Ignorance is bliss
So what I’ve found is this: I hate being ignored. So what? you may ask. Well, I’ve never admitted this to myself – not as far as I can remember. It’s just been sitting there stewing, brewing each time I’m ignored into a nasty cocktail of passive-aggressive tendencies. It was only this morning – after a long, slow burn that started just after I last wrote – that I realized what had been eating at me.
This brings most vividly to mind an incident over 15 years ago when my father came home from work to our apartment in Hong Kong. I was reading something and when he entered and said hello, I just grunted back. Our relationship was already very volatile at that point, and his response reflected this. Outrage would be one way to summarise it. My response was bewilderment: how could anyone get so upset over someone failing to greet them? This morning I realized I’ve been doing the same thing my whole life. My behaviour may differ, but the effect is the same.
What I tend to do is shut off, make myself as invisible as possible. I close up and say as close to nothing as possible. I simmer. I feel tight and heavy, and cannot find a way to smile or laugh. I get resentful, I find fault in those around me. I find plenty of fault in myself, and I tell myself I’ve been wasting my time, that I’m never going to get it. I get violent thoughts and I want to hurt myself and others. I am unable to be present, unable to experience the life that is living me in that moment. I feel unlovable and I act it out.
And without the thought that I hate to be ignored, I find myself at peace again, in wonderment at the life I have lived due to the belief in one small thought. I soak up this moment and give myself all the attention I’ve been seeking all this time and it feels warm and loving. I feel at home, complete, supported. And the cat comes to cuddle up just to drive the message home.
I now look forward to being ignored, so I can test whether I still believe that I hate it. I can see how I love being ignored: how in the moments when I want space, there is nothing more in the world I could want. I see how others hate being ignored by me: my Dad, E, the kids – so many people who I have ignored at some point or other come to me with sad, lonely eyes and beg to be acknowledged. And I see how I ignore myself: how whenever I’m down at someone for ignoring me, that what I’m effectively doing is not giving myself the attention I want from them. I see that if I gave myself unconditional love, if I attended to my own needs, that I would never be affected by someone else appearing to shun me again. Yes, that seems truer.
Thank you Katie, for The Work.