“When you sacrifice yourself for other people you make them thieves”
They say: “Absence makes the heart fonder” and when the tendency is to assume this only applies to people missing each other or to missing other living, breathing beings. I’ve only just realised that this not only applies to people, yet it can also apply to experiences and mindsets.
In 2017 my best friend and ‘on and off’ boyfriend of about 5-6 years committed suicide after suffering with depression for a long time. Before his death I found myself being responsible for his happiness, contentment and strength as a man. I made a conscious decision to dumb down my own happiness to ensure he doesn’t feel worse or isn’t triggered by all the things going right in my life. I think it’s important that I don’t condone people abandoning people with depression but I will definitely admit that I left him a couple of times in order to retain any semblance of sanity. When he passed on I realised that not only was he depressed but I was depressed along with him on some level and when he left this world so did my depression. As much as I mourned his death, there was also a level of relief I felt because suddenly I found myself free from the bondage of having to be responsible for another human’s life.
Before he died I used to think it was selfish to fully focus on myself and put my needs at the forefront but after hearing tech-preneur and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk say: “The best level of selflessness is selfishness, because you are filling yourself up in order to [be able to] give to others adequately.” I realised how important it was throughout our relationships for us to ensure that we were being selfish with ourselves first. Unfortunately we were so wrapped up in the anguish and pain of our depression that the pain made us forget.
When Iyanla Vanzant quoted a book called A Course In Miracles saying she said “When you sacrifice yourself for other people you make them a thieves.” I realised that for years I let other people walk away with my stuff and didn’t own the fact that I handed that stuff to them and then I cried wolf when they caused me pain and left me broken. What it then caused is a huge backlog in my emotional and psychological growth. The worst thing is that when there’s a backlog we forget how growth is even achieved. The pain has us forgetting all the goodness, positivity and fullness we already have in our own hearts and lives and we end up energising the negativity in our minds.
I’ve since realised (nearly a year after Nkomose’s passing) that the only way I could’ve made my process of healing easier was to invest more time in my own personal journey so as to invest and inject into his life in a positive way. As much as he needed me, I didn’t show up for him and myself in the right way so how in the world could I have helped him through his emotional and mental illness?
Now that I’ve had time, experience and healing pass through me I see that the pain made me forget the beauty that has always been there. Now that things seem clearer it’s easier to speak about it all as a past experience. I guess that we can say that Pain was the best kind of gift and it is a gift that keeps on giving.