No man is an island……
When God created the earth and the seas, the sun and moon and stars, and every kind of creature, He saw that it was good. When God created humankind, he saw that it was very good. I like that.
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone….’ Genesis 2:18
No one should be alone. We cannot be fully human in a vacuum. You know – ‘No man is an island…’ and all that. When I saw Mpho Tutu at Greenbelt at the end of August, she played a video link of her father Desmond Tutu talking about exactly this. It was wonderful – so joyous and funny. I have trawled Youtube trying to find it but with no luck. This one is great too and explains much the same thing.
I’m guessing we all need the truth of this. My dog does. He whined and cried and scratched the door for hours last night because he did not want to be alone. Loneliness has become a scourge of modern society and has been linked with all sorts of physical illnesses. Of course, time alone is important, but having close relationships is vital to our humanness. I feel privileged to work in a shop and to connect with people on a daily basis – sometimes people who may not have any other human interaction that day. We have a responsibility to those around us to allow them to be fully human by engaging in some meaningful interaction with them.
This song lodged itself in my mind the first time I heard it. Having wrestled with it, I do think it’s true if it’s not talking about romantic love but a wider loving connection…..It is a real challenge to all of us.
Living with someone with Attachment Disorder has been and continues to be one of the hardest things I have had to face. Because of early neglect and separation, my adopted daughter is unable to make normal human attachments. I always believed that love was enough and that love wins and that love is always the answer….it has not proved to be any of these so far. In fact, one of the books on Attachment Disorder is called ‘When love is not enough….’ The best I can say is that ‘love perseveres’. She is surrounded by people all the time, has 3000 friends on Facebook, lives in a busy home – and yet she is alone. She does not love and does not feel loved. It is heartbreaking – and frustrating and scary and impossible to live with at times. We have to keep reminding ourselves that she cannot yet respond in what we would consider to be a natural human way. All day long, she pulls us in with one hand and pushes us away with the other. In the midst of all this unrelenting emotional abuse, manipulation and blackmail, it’s hard to hold on to our own humanness. If you are told you are worthless and useless and pathetic often enough, it’s hard not to start to believe it and to start to retaliate from a place of hurt. Yesterday she spat these words at me with such hatred in her voice – ‘you are dead to me now.’ It made me feel dead inside. It made me lose touch with my humanness, with the divine in me.
No one can make this better for us. There is no silver bullet, no magic answer…all we can do is endure. We have been reassured by those in the know that things will get better, that she will find a way through this turmoil and that the best thing we can offer is to be there for her when she does. But actually, there is something that people can do to make it better and something they do every day. People stand with us. People surround us with their prayers. People connect with us and remind us of the value of friendship and interaction. When I post ‘Proving pretty hard today to see the divine when faced with a tsunami of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.’ on Facebook, I get a text within seconds asking ‘What’s wrong?’ People are looking out for us. People are there. This is Ubuntu, the amazing interdependence that we were created to enjoy.
Most of us are fortunate enough to take attachment and the ability to attach for granted. Of course, we are for that is human nature. It is not good for anyone to be alone, to feel alone, to go through life alone. We all need each other.
I need you.