Another article for which… I am not entirely sure where I am going with this. But
Emotional dependencies, and the desire to ‘feel good’. Intrinsic to us, and, in and of itself: morally neutral [it depends on the means one undertakes]. The pursuit of pleasure, and the evasion of pain.
Pain: each man, and his individual burden. Sometimes, it feels like drowning. And: like a particular place, or person, waits somewhere on the horizon, and they are going to ‘save you’ somehow. Out of sheer kindness: kind, caring gestures. And kind words, and things of this sort.
There is an issue when we lean too much on such notions. Rely on them. The difference between addictions/unhealthy dependencies, and love? Addictions are destructive: short-term pleasure (usually to escape numbness and pain, and) long-term… they only aid in exacerbating the pain. Addictions are when things become out-of-control, and in immoderation, whereas love for things is:
Rooted in moderation. Long-term goodness, and not necessarily on mere ‘highs’ and escapism. It’s: this is my reality, and that is yours. It’s: Tesco meal deals, and work to be done, and errands to be done. It’s bursting with laughter, sometimes; it’s new things, and old things that remind you of beautiful times gone.
Destructive dependencies, which, perhaps, kill for us that most precious resource of ours: time; are damaging to our (physical, spiritual) health; are not really fruitful; contribute to our mindlessness, and gradual… decay… Social media (one scroll becomes seven hundred; pleading with our handheld devices to dismiss that eight-hour screen-time restriction: make it nine hours!), comfort-eating, addictions to notions of romance, and the rest.
Love is good, and healthy; beautiful, and rooted in truth. It is more constructive, and promotes your health and wellbeing more than it does your… constant self-questioning; unhappiness. I mean, naturally, the things we love also hold in their hands the scope for many moments of pain: our positive experiences also define our negative ones. But: on the whole… is this, overall, a positive, constructive, moderate experience?
Or is it an attempted bandage — plaster — to cover some form of brokenness?
What might we be trying to prevent ourselves from feeling? Is it, perhaps, the feeling that we might not be good enough? Is it stress that propels us into those wormholes that sit, sneakily, within our phones, for example?
What are we putting our hopes in? Our desires for salvation, for escapism, for Better?
Emotional dependency on people, for example, is healthy. Emotionally, in terms of dividing things that need to be done, and so forth: the way the greats (Masha Allah) in our religion loved their brothers, and their sons, and their wives, and daughters. When does it all become unhealthy, though?
When you are not loving them, but some dehumanised ideas of them. When you are not loving them: do you really know them? Have you spent lots of time, in genuine presence, with them? Do you really like them; are you committed to their wellbeing and goodness; are you really caring about them?
Perhaps, also: when something you are attached to takes its place atop some pedestal, in your mind. The truth is, nobody deserves to be there. When you come to see yourself as being ‘beneath’ another, somehow. Your almost-singular goal is: to make them happy; to make sure they are happy with you; to serve them. When your worth as a human being hinges upon what they might think about you.
There is so much at play here, as there always is. Our wounds from childhood; our fears and insecurities about ourselves [everybody has them]; the sheer creativity of these imaginations of ours, and what they might be able to convince us of. For lack of the ‘bigger pictures’ of people, places, things: the reflexive taking of little bits of evidence, collecting them, in order to ‘fill the gaps’ of all that we do not really know.
An emotional addiction to a person, perhaps: when you are not seeing their humanity, which everybody has, and is. Instead: you might see some picture frames, snippets. A glimpse, or two, of perceived goodnesses. And then comes the self-questioning: could I be good enough? Why can’t I be more like them?
In a way, such somewhat-idealistic attachments are useful, as they have been: they sometimes provide for us that needed impetus to do better. Work on your Deen; read more; learn more; work on our physical fitness. Be more ‘mellow’; be more cheery and encouraging to others; don’t be afraid of showing how passionate you are, about your interests; develop them. Make people feel good: these things are remembered, for sure.
Today I think I want to write about somebody I love. Yesterday, I went on a very long walk with her: this might have been more than I have ever walked in one day, in my life. From our homes, in East London, all the way to Oxford Circus. Meanderings, and conversations.
There is just so much that we talk about (Masha Allah). From… Wudhu rules, to tutees from Saudi Arabia; Viking beauty standards… to the history of Selfridge’s, and more. A friendship is one where it is of equals, in the sense that one does not have ‘supreme authority’ over the other; one is not placed on a pedestal. One does not take the role of some ‘inferior’, some servant or identity-less validator; one is not looked down upon. Maybe, while addictions, over time, might destroy self-esteem, and, on the whole, be a more stressful (destructive) experience than a conducive-to-peace-and-developement (constructive) one: friendship, love, is eye-to-eye [heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind, and I feel I… must… also say ‘soul-to-soul’…].
Negative experience → object of addiction → short-term relief; long-term: negative experience exacerbated. The cycle repeats itself, and results in diminished feelings of self-worth, shame, as well as frustration, and a desire for more of the stuff.
Yet, perhaps, in matters of love: negative experience. Or a positive one → work through it. Process it, honour it; as long as it takes. In a state of sobriety, consciousness, and with a good friend, perhaps. → long-term: the love only grows. Maybe the troubles do not go away entirely, but you’re not alone, and you are loved, and there are… better options, really. Rooted in Truth and reality, and not in mere over-glorified mirages and attempts to escape it.
“Don’t walk in front of me: I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me: I may not lead
Walk beside me, and be my friend”
The truth is, many of us are addicts, or recovering ones, in various ways. Maybe: when you find yourself feeling so much, all at once — or even, seemingly, nothing at all — and you turn to something that you think might be able to ‘rescue’ you. If it is food: momentary ‘high’, long-term downsides of excess. Social media: short-lived dopamine hit, long-term self-comparison, masking, and questioning one’s self-worth. TV: 30-minute numbness, vicarious living. Long-term: there’s a whole life out there (a complete experience) whose time is being taken away by this. ‘Retail therapy’: the colourfulness, a hit, of novelty. Long-term: did you really have the money for all this, in the first place? Will you really wear all this? Where will it all go? And then you’re back, the next week, at the shopping centre, looking to purge negative emotions all over again, and how would this cycle ever know how to stop itself unless you consciously put a stop to it? Drugs: well, you know how it goes. Short-term: ‘high’, followed by numbness. And organic degeneration, in the long-term, in truth: this is how destructive dependencies work.
And, for example, if it is a person: they’re also a human being, with their own stories, and blessings, and tests, merits and flaws, strengths and weaknesses, ‘boring’ moments, more energetic moments, just like yours, yet different. If it is leading more to your spiritual erosion than to your (healthy, rooted-in-feelings-of-intrinsic-worth) development, then… what, really, is its purpose? Another human being, also, cannot be singularly responsible for ‘rescuing’ you. In your mind, if you allow them to be removed from this pristine-white pedestal they seem to be standing on, you might notice that, hey… they need some rescuing too. They’re human, just like you: you already know, in your own ways, what this entails, what this means…
“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them, and provide for them from sources they could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He ˹alone˺ is sufficient for them.” — Qur’an (Surah 65)
[Ultimately, who you already are is beautiful, and only Allah can save us. Through what He gives us: the signs, the pieces of knowledge, the people. We’ve got to trust that the One who created our souls, minds, hearts, bodies… will grant us everything that is best for us, if we turn to Him.]
“Rely on Allah like a drowning man who knows no other means to salvation, but God.” — Monjur Alam (my uncle)
Perhaps he is French:
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.