Sunflower Philosophies:

The Fall and Rise of Sunflower Philosophy

My experiences this year and what I learned from them

Some of you may have wondered why I've been much more on the reviewing front and far less on the posting front.

My original and lasting image on this site is of an optimistic but sympathetic person- at least that's how I try to project it. And the year I just passed was... well... to put it lightly... not a very easy year. Yes, the great Sunflower Philosophy, self-proclaimed bringer of light and bearer of optimism, went through one of the worst years in her life.

Friendships are funny things. You never know exactly what it is about a person that makes you click. Maybe you share common interests. Maybe you saw something in that person from the way they looked or talked or acted that reminded you of yourself. When a friend asks you, "Why do you like me?" What do you answer? You're smart, you're funny, you understand me, you're there when you need me. Almost superficial things, really. You can never really delve down into the depths of your being and define what it is about a friend that brings you to love him or her.

Well I don't know what it is, ladies and gentlemen, but I can tell you now that in my case at least, you never know how much you love a person until you have every reason to hate him or her- and don't.

I don't mind when people disagree with me. Really I don't. I have no problem with the fact that not everyone thinks like Sunflower Philosophy, and I think it's a good thing, too. Everyone needs to find their own path.

Easy to say, eh?

What happens when you love a person- as a friend, a sibling, a partner- and they start making decisions you don't agree with? What happens when you know you'll all get hurt if he or she makes that decision, but he or she is going to anyway?

You could try convincing them otherwise, giving them the bare facts. Then you could try manipulating them, yes, an inexcusable thing, using yourself as the weapon- "If you make this decision, do you have any idea how much you'll hurt me, how much I'll have to suffer?"

But then you realize that you can't manipulate a person like that. You love her (we'll say it's a she), but now you have to let her make her own mistakes and learn her own lessons. You have to let her go.

Another "Easy to say, eh?"

I was right. I did suffer. It wasn't just the choice; it was what it symbolized. It was the meaning of the choice, the meaning of the anger behind the choice. Every time that friend, I'll call her Joy, stepped into the room, I felt a tension clench in my stomach. Every time she spoke to me I prayed she wouldn't say it.

I was completely alone. I stood strong in my beliefs but in tears. "How is it that if my beliefs are right, no one will listen to me state them? How is it that every time I try to explain my deepest thoughts, my greatest feelings, I feel as though the person across from me either didn't understand or didn't want to understand?" I had other friends, of course, and we were all caught up in the Joy issue- us against her, but somehow I still felt that I was standing on my own.

I cried. I prayed. I begged. I talked to everyone I could trust about it. Nothing helped. I was lost in a spinning vortex of Me versus World- not that the world was against me, it was just that it didn't care. I didn't know what to do. My philosophies had never been put up to such a test.

I felt useless. How are these theories helping me now, if no one else can understand them and learn from them? What am I if I can't give? I can't live without giving. And she would stand there with those almond brown eyes of hers, defiant, glaring, daring me to answer her. And I couldn't- not because I didn't have one, but because I knew that if I said it, she wouldn't accept it, no matter what I said. A needless debate. It's not like our friendship hadn't suffered enough.

But the first thing I learned was that even though I had every reason to throw it all away, to tell her I wasn't going to be friends with her anymore and live my life in peace- find someone to support me and who I can depend on- I didn't want to. After the anger and the tears and the "Why? Why? Why???" all I wanted to do was hug her tight, stretch out a blanket of comfort and understanding and drown her in it. I learned that through everything, no matter what will happen between us- I will always love Joy.

Not that Joy herself didn't suffer throughout the year. Her conscience picked on her and bothered her, and the very fact that my friend was going through such a difficult time didn't help my own mood very much. Which leads me to the next episode this year.

There's another friend I'll call Serenity who also had a miserable year. Serenity has clinical depression, like a majority of people on this site, and after a great year spent in a different country, she had a miserable one coming back here. She felt lost and strange, as if she didn't belong here. And one night she told me about the cutting. One thing I thank God for is that though I didn't always respect myself or my body, I would never hurt myself. But when she told me, she brought in a whole new burden I'd been blocking out because of the Joy issue… Serenity was the one who was there for me about when I was writing stuff like "Blue and Black". During my deepest depression stages. She was the one convincing me to hold on.

When I got out of my depression, I swore an everlasting battle on depression. I looked everywhere for people to heal, people with depression inside them that I could debate with until it shriveled up and died. A few months after Serenity returned from that other country, she told me that her own depression was getting worse. I debated with her on several occasions, and for the first time met the wall from the other side- realizing that I was getting nowhere. It was frightening to know that I couldn't really seem to help her.

But suddenly, when she told me about cutting… I realized that I didn't have to fight her depression. I didn't even have to try to help her, to drop her hints. All she needed me to do was listen.

So that was all I did. I trusted Serenity with herself. I gave her back her life and her ability to deal with it. I'm not her mother- and even a mother should let her daughter work out her own life, while sitting back and holding her tight when she needed comfort. Just like with Joy, it was hard to let go of her. But the fact that I was now trusting her to take her life in her own hands and make it the most beautiful thing she could gave me strength.

And things worked themselves out.

As the months dragged on and nothing seemed to improve on the Joy front, I started to wonder if there wasn't another way to solve my feeling down about it. I talked it out over and over again and finally reached a conclusion. During the year I lost a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem due to the feelings of uselessness with Serenity and Joy and how I scolded myself every time I almost let something slip against Joy, something that might manipulate her choices.

A year and a half ago, I would have honestly been able to say that I loved myself. Self-love is just about the most important thing there is- and I'm not talking about egotism. If you don't love yourself, you have no one to protect you. I had depended on my friends to keep me from my own clutches. I'm always sitting on my own shoulders, criticizing myself, setting impossible standards, and scolding myself. Before my friendships deteriorated, I depended on them to keep those aspects of me in check. They would reassure me that I'd do fine. They would tell me it's okay and would forgive me for my mistakes. But then I was alone, with nothing but that big black blob of "You're a failure" for company.

So now I'm taking charge of my own life. I will find a way not to let it hurt me when Joy throws the questions into the air that she doesn't want an answer to. I will keep an eye on Serenity and be there to catch her when she falls. And finally- I will be there for myself, kicking away insecurity, telling myself I can do it and that I'm allowed to cry when I want to. I am the only person who will be there for me always. I'm the only person who really understands me, and though that may seem lonely, if I appreciate myself, I don't need anyone else to appreciate me.

And once I can fill myself once again with light- this time more experienced, stronger and smarter- perhaps, just perhaps, I'll be able to spill a few drops on you.