In the darkest hour of the night, a crash woke me and sent me scrambling from my bed, barefooted and mildly disoriented with sleep. In the dark, I ran into the kitchen, checking in there for damage. When I didn’t see anything in the kitchen, I ran into the dining room and checked there. Again, nothing. Finally, as my brain woke up, thought moved from reaction to plan; I walked back into the kitchen and actually turned on the light so I could see better. There, inches from my still bare feet lay a glass, shattered on the rug.
Sugar the cat, the guilty party in this minor crime, had decided to try and wake me by pushing a dirty glass off the kitchen counter. Giving thanks for the miracle of not stepping on the glass in my thoughtless first tour of the house, I stooped down to start cleaning up the mess.
Not satisfied with just waking the human, the cat still wanted more attention, so she started rolling on the shards of glass. Horrified, I threw the cat across the room, but time and time again, the cat returned to roll in the glittering mess. With each toss of the cat, I became more and more appalled by the feline’s desperate cries for attention.
Never mind that the cat had fresh food and water in her bowls and that I had played with the cat before going to bed; in the cat’s mind, it was time to shower more love and affection on the cat, not time to sleep, or clean up. As I gingerly picked up the mess, and relaxed a little as the larger, more dangerous pieces of glass were safely removed from the floor, I couldn’t help but wonder at the cat’s desperate cries for attention.
“So,” I asked myself, “when have I been so desperate for attention that I have allowed myself to roll in the broken fragments of a relationship at the feet of someone who no longer cared?” My mind was immediately flooded with images of way too many times when I had done exactly that. Times when all semblance of self-respect or pride lay shattered at the feet of a dying relationship, with no thought of fear or of damage, only a desperate attempt at getting the attention of that one person who I thought made life feel worth living.
I don’t think I am alone in this self-defeating habit of trying, and trying, and trying, to resuscitate a dying love. However, I do acknowledge that there may have been times when I have taken these efforts to pretty Olympian levels of effort. Sometimes the need to be needed is stronger than any logic or affirming self-talk.
There are a lot of behaviors that are now considered stalking that, back in the day, were considered normal (-ish) behavior when in the pursuit of true love:
A former love who once pursued you avidly quits calling and won’t return your calls? Easy, call from a different phone to trick them into talking to you. What adult doesn’t love being forced to talk to someone you no longer want in your life?
No matter what you say, your former lover is cold and unmoving? Burst into hysterical tears. You know, because everyone loves to be cried at. Or, start screaming and name-calling. What could be hotter than that?
You’re sure that special person has moved on? Drive past their house and/or follow their car from a distance. Better yet, call them to confront them with what you’ve found while snooping on their private life, which they no longer want you to be a part of. How could that fail to prove the intensity of your love?
I have not personally used all of these methods of trying to get someone’s attention, but I’ve done enough of them to be blushing while writing this. I have known people who have enacted each and every one of the scenarios listed. These are desperate measures taken when all you want is the return of the love and affection of someone you have convinced yourself you cannot live without.
Eventually, some positive self-talk will wend its way from your logical brain to your illogical heart. Logic finally makes its point that while you’re giving every ounce of effort you have to trying to get that certain someone’s attention again, you are de-valuing and depreciating yourself. If the person whose attention you want so desperately can’t appreciate the beauty of the relationship when it was whole, why would they appreciate it when it’s laying in shards at their feet? And if that person would accept you back in their life what have you told them about what you’re willing to do for their approval?
It may take a while, sometimes a really long while, for the heart to decide that it’s too painful to keep rolling in the glass. But it does. We should have all (hopefully,) learned by now that if someone can’t appreciate you for who you are as a whole person, then tearing ourselves up to meet their expectations won’t change a thing.
In Sugar the cat’s defense, there was nothing in her experience that would’ve told her that glass is sharp and can cut you. She was just trying to move my attention away from the inanimate glass I was focused on and bring my focus back on her. We, as adult humans, do not have that same excuse. God, I hope I’m smarter than that cat.