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The Quick Burn Sense of Approval...

Now, I will own this is not my original phrase...and likely it wasn’t the person I heard it from either.  I am sure someone else many years ago coined it and it has just been floating like a dandelion spore ever since, landing, germinating, and then starting the whole process all over again...thoughts and phrases are like that.  They come into existence and then they just float around until they land somewhere that defies further movement...


So last night as I sat in my weekly Friday night place, I heard this phrase, “the quick burn sense of approval...” And it landed with a thud in my chest that packed way more power than any dandelion floater ever could.  I felt it.  Like the speaker was calling me out.  His sharing about his own first addiction to being approved of, or liked, or included or wanted, or desired or whatever else you want to fucking call it.  This was my first addiction:  the sense that you approved.  Now, notice I did not say you actually did approve, because that is very key to this whole phrase which I will get to momentarily...


I know that when I was a child I needed to have the sense that you approved of me.  I needed it from my parents, my friends, the teachers, the coaches, the parents of friends, everyone.  I needed to feel the sense that you approved of me.  Now, whether you actually did or not was rather immaterial.  I just needed enough data points to make the connection so that I would get the relief, the feeling that you approved gave me.  And oh, my fucking God, what a quick burn that was.  It was like the first hit of a cigarette, the fist gulp of a cold beer on a hot day, the first shot of whiskey that burned from your lips to the very bottom of your stomach, the first touch of a lover, the embrace of a friend...these would become my salvation and undoing in the instant they occurred.  Because in every one of those situations, each one could never fully be appreciated because each one just created the need, the want, the obsession for more.


I didn’t need you to actually care.  In fact, if you look at my relational history, you would see a very long line of people who actually didn’t approve of me at all, they just gave me enough so that I was capable of creating the sense of approval out of the vapor of caring that you threw my way, sometimes.  You maybe did something small, a comment, a gesture, a joke, some small indicia of approval that gave me the kernel I needed to write the rest of the script, where you loved me, cared for me, wanted me, liked me, or simply approved of me in some way that communicated my existence here was not in vain.  You supplied the kindling and the match, and then I lit that fucker up to a roaring blaze that kept me warm and feeling like there was more there than there ever really was.


I see this now.  In the cold light of day, without blinders or anything to mute the inferno that has always raged within the confines of my interiority.


And this, this quick burn sense of approval, this was the thing that would cause me to do all the other things, forever.  No matter what I was doing, or in my case, overdoing, it was because what I wanted more than anything, ever, was for you to give me some sense, some feeling, or belief that I was a worthwhile human being, worthy of occupying the space allotted me.  And once that fire was lit, it would never go out.  It became the eternal flame of my existence.  And I would go on to do the many things, the addictive things, the harmful things, all because I needed to belong in a world where I did not, in fact, belong.


I see this too now.  I see that I have never really belonged because, and this might be as hard to hear as it is to utter, I didn’t belong because I have never really wanted to.  I have forever stood just outside the circle, waiting for anything that I could grab and attach meaning to, so that I could provide myself the sense that I was approved, I was welcome, I belonged.  There is a great number of things one must do to belong and I, forever, have been the biggest liar in this regard.  I do not want to belong, I only crave the sense that I do.


So your opinion of me, your approval was only tacitly required.  I just needed the seed, the kernel, the tiny mustard seed, and I would do the rest.  I only needed the sense of approval to ignite the quick burn...and that white hot flame would be the fire by which I would attempt to warm myself, well, until really just now, as I write this and find that I am capable of keeping great secrets...most especially from myself.


My life has been forever lived in this landscape of quickly ignited fires that burn brightly and ferociously, only to fade into an ember long before the warmth is communicated and held.  I never really realized I needed you, or your company or your friendship or love or really even your approval...I just needed the sense of it.  And I would forever write in the rest.  I would make up for all you lacked, for all you failed to provide, for all your refusal, all your putrid offerings of less than what might ever keep me warm.  I see that now.


I see how much this innate need to get the feeling, the sense, that I was worthy and worthwhile to be included, to be invited, to be approved would set off the whole process for me whereby you were only required in the beginning, and in only a very superficial way.  And when I felt like you wouldn’t give me even just the sense of approval, and the burn was not quick because it was not forthcoming at all.  Of you cleaving devils, for you I would work tirelessly, until the day would finally come, where you would acquiesce and provide me that lofty and fleeting sense that I had gained some upper hand, some sense that you approved.


And then I would be gone.  You having provided what I needed, you having given me the match to light the flame, the fact that there was not enough merit to the fire, or the reality there was really wasn't much there to burn, mattered not at all.  I would write in, hold feelings, create feelings all to manufacture a reality whereby I had enough of the sense to move on, on my own...and I would then be gone, until, and there was always an until, I needed you to give me that sense once more.


Then I would be back, for a fleeting momentary waylay, where I would attempt to get what I needed to get the quick burn sense of approval once more.


And so my life has gone...until last night.  When I saw it and then like a movie, my life played out in front of me, all the times I came to you for the hit, all the times I attempted to wrest satisfaction from this life by managing well, of creating the opportunities for me to come to you once more so that I could perpetuate the cycle that never really got me anywhere, other than exactly where I have always been.


Last night, the hot burning, but very temporary flame, flickered and then went out.  Something inside me snapped to attention, so this latent part of me that has been allowing the front woman of the Erin Show to charge forth, this sleeping other self, awakened last night sitting on a pew in church where I do not belong and refuse to believe, something woke up inside me and very clearly said, “that is ENOUGH!”


And so it feels my grand self deluded charade has come to an end.  I am no longer willing to allow this dynamic to play out.  I do not really care, and I never really have, I have only forever needed the sense, so that I could continue as I always have, doing exactly what I pleased, your feelings, your ideas, your needs and wants, your opinions and judgments be damned.


I am not sure what life looks like now.  Without all the effort expended to get the sense of approval.  I am not sure how I stay warm without the quick burn.  I just know, and felt it leak through my body last night that I am very quite done with the folly of believing that you, any of you, could ever give me more than a sense, more than a hasty fire set under poor conditions.  And I see, one more time, in a new way, and in a new manner, that once more it was me that set it all up to begin with...it was me who caused the whole shitshow to my own detriment.  To make myself dependent on nothing because I called it everything.  


Sometimes, in this life, you are granted a clarity about yourself, about how you operate, about your own functionality, your own plotting, your own scheming which never, ever brought you the results you wished it would.  And you are granted, you are gifted the vista of your own delusion and like those tiny dandelion tufts, once air born, find yourself standing tall, but barren, all the small whiffs of your delusion, finally and irretrievably gone.  Finally consumed by the quick burning embers which have ruled your life forever.  And you are left there, naked, alone, and standing in the reality that you finally see that which you could not before, and so you know the way past is not forever barred.  And the way forward unknown.  So since there is nothing else left to do, you just stand amongst the ashes, and the still burning flames and watch it all with a bemused detachment from the outcomes, from the whole fucking ordeal.  For the first time, really, ever.  And in that moment, you become the most whole you have ever been, reclaiming a part of yourself that you forever ago attempted to give to anyone who happened by, and you call it back into your being, and you allow its quiet assimilation to find a home within you once more. 


And the dandelions fibers of sensed approval, quickly burn away, forevermore.






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