Why I Could Not Forgive Myself for a Long Time

Reassurance has always been my form of love and affection. I make it a priority to tell the people I love that they are valued and hold great importance in my life. I find joy in making them smile and feel loved through my words. It provides me with a sense of purpose.

With such affe toon comes a certain level of expectation. Sometimes those expectations can lead to tears because you learn about the reality of not being on the receiving end. And not being on the receiving end is not always the greatest feeling. It is the kind of feeling that aches the very soul in you. It angers you from within and makes you question everything you have ever done for anybody.

From a very young age I found it difficult to lower my expectations, or worse, do good without hoping the other person will do the same for me when the time comes. I cannot really tell why I was wired that way. I just thought goodness came back to you from the same person.

Apparently, that is not how it works.

Over the last few years, I have lost more friends than I have made. Every friend that I lost to date either was too occupied wife life to even spare a second for me it there was no common ground left yo share. It shattered my soul to see so many people walk out of my life be for a very long time I blamed myself. I thought maybe I should have reached out to them more even though they could not. Or would not. I scrolled though old pictures with those friends and struggled to not let nostalgia consume me.

I would sit down in the living room for hours with my mother, crying over how I did not have friends in my life. Nobody checks up on me or makes the effort of reaching out I. Any way possible. With every year I shed, my mother repeated one sentence, “you will not even remember this time in the next few years Afifa, stop being so harsh on yourself”

It as probably easier for my mother to say this because she did not lose any friends. Or did she? I will never know. Because she never complains about them. However, the crying went on for months before I finally gave in to accepting the way things were. I stopped looking at old photographs, I stoped scrolling through their social media wondering how they have time to post pictures but no time to message me. My work was overshadowing all other forms of pain and those tears were becoming dry with every passing day.

Before I even knew, my heart grew indifferent to those “friends” and they transformed into “acquaintances” or did not hurt anymore; it stopped bothering me like it used to. I knew if they ever reached to me, I would reply as a decent human being would do- but that conversation will not involve any sort of affection. It will be devoid of emotions.

While my friends’ departure created a void in my life, it soon filled up with the arrival of an understanding and apology that I had been neglecting for the longest time. I was finally coming to terms with how this world runs, how friends will leave just as easily as another random person. Someone may be my priority, but they will not necessarily return that affection. My behavior will not change anyone’s behavior towards me. Whatever I did, had to be done without any hope for being on the receiving end.

With that realization, I also had yo forgive my stubbornness of the past years. It was the stubborn version of myself that was not willing to let go off people and places. It was the stubborn me that held back all good things that life showered me with. But that stubborn self is also the strongest form of love I have in me. I just need to shower love on myself first and than anyone else.

But I will still shower love. That’s just who I am.

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Afifa Zaheer

Afifa Zaheer

Writer | Poetess | Financial Consultant. A South-Asian Woman Mastering the Art of Metamorphosis as an Immigrant.