Hair Ties: (In)dependence, (Mis)trust, & Attachment.
This morning, as I was cleaning out my bookbag, rearranging my books, papers, and notebooks, I stumbled upon a sticky note that read, "extra hair ties for when you forget" The note came from a woman I was dating a few months ago, and sure enough, at the bottom of my bag were three or four hair ties. The thing is… I still forget my hair ties. We only dated for about a month, and within that time she paid me enough attention to notice that I should have some extra ties in my bag, just in case. I love this because she noticed that I'm a "just-in-case" type of person. I'm always ready for something to happen… or, not happen. I'm always ready to tie my hair up and handle whatever needs my work. We worked well together because we paid close attention to one another; we studied one another. Granted, I'm just now seeing this note and the hair ties, but it sticks to me because all these months later, I see she studied me quite well. Let me explain… Something she said back then also sticks with me to this day and has stuck with me every day since then… I've actually been festering over it for a while now. I can't remember the full question or the full statement, but I do remember the impact, so I'll paraphrase. During a conversation we were having about people and relationships, she stopped and asked, "You think people are disposable, don't you?" I remember pausing, hesitating, and finally saying "Yeah…I guess… I do."
We chuckled (me, probably a bit more nervously) and she edged toward diving a little deeper. If I remember correctly, we eventually tabled it. Long story short, it didn't feel so good to admit that out loud. It doesn't feel so good to reminisce on that moment or all the other moments in my memory bank that proves her right. How could I not see it? How could I not know this about myself when it was so evident in the way I prided myself in my independence? This reminds me of another moment in time when I was cooking, and a friend of mine asked if I needed any help. I said no, and she said something to the effect of, "You literally do everything on your own. I can't help with anything, it's like you don't need anybody..." My reply was, "That's the point." If I'm being transparent, that has always been my point. I learned how to take care of myself at an early age. I learned how to cook before I was a teenager. I learned how to wash my clothes, clean the house, travel, study, work, drive, pay bills, live, and survive, all before I left my mother's house. It was imperative to my mother that I learned how to handle life on my own - it was imperative to me that I learned how to handle life on my own. Besides independence being taught in our household, it was also instilled in me from the neighborhood I grew up in, from the family I grew up in, and from the world I had come to know as I aged. If you've read or heard any of my previous work, I'm sure you've received hints of my disdain for promises, my lack of care for being tied to another person, and especially my lack of trust - not only in romantic relationships but in relationships in total. The thing about people is the fact that none of us keep our promises; none of us obey our vows, our oaths, or our agreements - not even me. I was taught this fact early on in life. Not everybody does what they say they will do - and not everybody says what they will do either. People are not predictable. I don't like that. Along with my lack of trust and my lack of need for depending on others, I can also be very detached when it comes to people. I've moved across neighborhoods, schools, cities, and states. Living in one place for a long time is very new to me. I guess, in a sense, one could say that I'm not used to stability. I have moved almost once a year, losing and gaining belongings, along with losing and gaining friends. I guess somewhere in moving the boxes, I've mixed the two up. If I've learned anything, it's that people come and go. There's always something to lose and there's always something to gain. There's always someone to lose and there's always someone to gain. Things change, people change, circumstances change, I change. Seasons wouldn't change without the world revolving; we wouldn't get to experience such a diverse planet if it stayed in the same spot. I've come to embrace it… I've come to embrace the fact that people are in fact, disposable. I guess in embracing this, I've come to hold this concept closer than some of the people I've come to know. Now, let me backtrack and preface this by sharing that I can honestly say that I have an amazing group of friends - a bewildering group of people that I support, and a rewarding group of people that support me. On the romantic side, I've come to know some wonderful women - women who've offered great help, women who I can stand with firmly, believing that they could truly match me. The thing about detachment and treating people more like belongings is the fact that you begin to see value differently - it's not that I don't see people for their humanity, it's that I become selfish in my own pursuit of contentment and lose value for other people's discontentment. This value will either push you to become greedy or conversely, push you to become indifferent. I've experienced both. I've seen indifference rise when the friendship and/or relationship no longer serves me or I no longer serve that person. I come to a point where my sentiments become, "well… if anything, we had a good time, a good experience, and it's alright if this dies out." This is fine, but it can be dangerous when I'm the only one with this attitude. I can cease being present at the drop of a dime, and my interest in maintaining the relationship begins to decline. All the while, the other person may be reaching out, hoping to keep our relations alive. I've experienced this both platonically and especially romantically. I get to a point where I feel as though there is something new, or, someone new, and my interest shifts. To juxtapose myself, while I feel my interest fading for one person and increasing for another, I become greedy. Why not hold both hands? Why not 2? Or 3?... and whenever my interest is fully engaged, I can let the other hands go - and again, my indifference peaks. Greed comes to a peak because my lack of trust doesn't allow me to confidently choose someone I can fully believe in or depend on… and then detachment and indifference come to a peak because my independence doesn't allow me to need or trust anybody in the first place. What a cycle. As you can tell, I've been filtering through these thoughts and reworking my action steps for a while now. I've been studying independence, detachment, trust - etc., and have discovered that there's a form of independence that is derived from traumatic childhood occurrences. "Hyper-Independence" comes around when you have a severe lack of trust and strong disbelief that you can depend on others; this is typically from growing up in an environment where you did a lot of things alone for survival. In turn, you grow to only trust and believe in yourself with little to no friendship founded on dependence. Now, let me just say that my mother and father did the best that they could with the tools, resources, and opportunities that they had. I don't fault them. However, there were plenty of times when I chewed my tongue, my emotions, and my actions for the sake of keeping the peace and found myself doing a lot of things on my own, even coping alone too. It took me a while to learn that coping is just coping - it is only managing, it is only getting by; it is not dealing with the problem at hand. As I reflect, independence has been my coping strategy to get through a lot of different points in my life. Specifically, when I face situations I don't like, my solution is to go at it alone, leave behind what (or who) I don't "need", and take care of it. I see this take shape in almost everything I do. In how I carry myself, in how I don't carry others, and in how I refuse to allow others to carry me. Not only did I believe that people are disposable, but I also believed that I was too. Ironically, as I wrestled with independence, I also wrestled with loneliness. While I love being by myself, I also really love spending time with people I care about. There are moments when I have a deep desire to be alone for weeks at a time, and other moments where I hate being alone for more than a few days. I say this, as sit in this one-bedroom apartment that I live in alone. I'm typing this entire essay on a dark brown desk that my mother gave me. To my left, is a brown end table trimmed in gold, which holds three of my plants - two of which were gifts from a friend and my sister. Another end table just like it sits directly parallel on the other side of the room, and that one holds my TV. I should note that I bought this TV from my friend, with the money that my brother gave me for graduating. In the middle of my living room sits a black and brown coffee table that houses books that were given to me by friends and mentors, as well as an incense holder that was given to me too. I received these three tables from my co-worker, along with some dishes that she no longer needed. Come to think of it, I only work at my job because of the connection I gained with an older educator a few years ago. To my right is a short, tan bookshelf. This one, I got myself, but it's filled with books I've gained over the years from friends and family. On top of it sits another plant that I received from my sister, and next to it sits a brown, suede couch that she bought for me. In my room, I have a queen-sized bed, a steel-glass nightstand, a seven-foot-tall, and three-foot-wide silver mirror, a dark brown cubby/TV stand, and a TV. I didn't buy anything that sits in my bedroom (besides my sheets, pillows, and comforters, of course). I didn't say all of that to talk about the stuff that I have. I said that to remind myself of just how dependent I've been on friends and family. I said that to remind myself of just how much I've needed to lean on and trust in others to afford my contentment. To remind me of just how many times my attachment and relationship to people has come to be fruitful; To remind myself of how I even get my décor style of browns, blacks, and reds from my parents. As an exercise, I sit and think of all the conversations that have brought me understanding and all of the conversations where I've given understanding; I think of all the impartations I've been able to hand over to others and all the impartations handed over to me; I think of all the gifts, books, plants, lessons, and moments I've been able to give and receive… and they all came and went through people. I was reading earlier, and the book (which I received from my friend) shared how worshiping God is a lifestyle. As a part of it is a lifestyle, you come to love people - and as others adopt this lifestyle, they come to love you too. I had forgotten that my lack of love for people also translated to my lack of love for God. Similarly, my lack of trust in people translated to a lack of trust in God. Surely, people do fail, but… people also come through. Following after Christ means that you trust God enough to know that the Holy Spirit will not lead you to places or people you can't also trust. When she placed those hair ties and that note in my bag, it was an act of understanding. It was an act of learning me and knowing me enough to know what I need, where I would need it, and why I would need it. It was an act that sprung from a positive attachment. It was an act that would spring into trust - a kind of trust that would lead to comfort in depending on her, cycling to a more positive attachment after all. It was an act that was done out of selflessness, out of consideration, out of thinking ahead for my sake - so much so to the point that I have just seen them today. So now, I sit here and think of all the times when I needed my hair ties and forgot to bring them… and all along, I was carrying them with me… Just like all of the people and lessons and experiences I have here at home, and all of those people and lessons and experiences that I carry with me in my bookbag, in my notebooks on a daily basis. Maybe I'm not alone after all... Maybe my home is running over with people… and maybe I fill someone's home too.