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  • Jessica Richmond

What Does "I Miss You" Really Mean?

Most of us have said, “I miss you,” and we really meant it from our heart. Missing is a very common human experience. We miss our lover, our husband, wife, mother or father, our child, best friend, cat, or dog. We miss them even more when they are gone for long periods of time. And our missing becomes exquisitely painful when it is that kind of missing that accompanies the death of a loved one because we know that we will never see them again.


To miss someone or something means, “to regret the loss or absence of.” If you think about it, on any given day most of us probably miss something. At least one thing. For example, today I miss the warm, sunny Florida days as I’m freezing my butt off in India. I also miss seeing and talking with my mom and my sisters. I miss my nieces and nephew’s laughs and lightheartedness. I also miss those who have passed away. I miss my grandmother’s sense of humor, my father’s wise words, and my cat Ollie’s snuggles. And to be quite honest, I miss the taste of milk chocolate. That Toblerone bar that I could so easily pick up at any convenience store in the USA, but that is not so easy to come by at an ashram in an Indian village. And waiting for amazon to deliver my chocolate bar is a crap shoot. My package could come today or next week or next month. And it could be a Toblerone bar, or it could be a pair of purple polka dot socks. They are not so accurate on their order fulfillment. But, I digress.


Anyway, as you can see this “missing” phenomenon is very prevalent. And most of us just experience this feeling of missing without ever truly examining it. We experience it and we think it is normal and even healthy to miss someone or something. But, if you peel back the covering of this “missing” feeling, what is really driving us to miss? Have you ever asked yourself that?


Well, I learned the hard way about what really drove me to miss about 20 years ago when I was going through a very painful break-up with the guy whom I thought was the love of my life, my soul mate. After days upon weeks of crying my eyes out, and sobbing like a small inconsolable child, one day I finally asked myself what am I really missing? It then dawned upon me that I was actually not missing my boyfriend at all. In fact, we had outgrown each other over the 8 years that we were together and there was not much that I liked about that guy anymore. Actually, I didn’t appreciate him or his company. He ate meat, drank beers like they were water, was obsessed with golf and racing his motorcycle down the interstate at outrageous speeds. I was a vegetarian, drank water not beers, was obsessed with Ayurveda, and for fun I liked to go to yoga class. We really had zero in common other than our past. So, what was it that I had been crying about and missing? Actually, it was the way that he made me feel. He distracted me from that sinking lonely feeling I had deep inside of myself. I would rather get on the back of his crotch rocket and have the crap scared out of me than sit at home by myself. I would rather sit at the bar and watch him chug beers, completely absorbed in the Boston Red Sox, than sit at home, a victim of the depressing demons of my mind telling me that I am unimportant and unworthy of anyone’s love. He told me that I was pretty and it made me forget for a second my true feelings about myself, about how ugly and unattractive I thought I was. He would listen to my stories and made me feel that I was smart. His words temporarily kept me afloat, so I didn’t have to face my inner conviction that I am stupid and inadequate.


Over the past 15 years working with grieving clients and clients who are suffering from relationship break-ups, the same stories as my own ring true. They aren’t really missing the person. They are missing what the person did for them – how they made them feel, how they made them think about themselves in terms of their identity or in a positive light. Or just how the person kept them from feeling lonely. This is not such a pretty thing to admit, but it is the truth. Ask yourself about anyone or anything whom you have missed. If you look deeply enough and are honest enough, the missing actually comes from a selfish place. The missing comes from what they did for you. And now they are gone and you want them back to make you feel good again. Why? Because you haven’t quite figured out how to feel good by yourself. So, you need something outside of yourself to make you feel good, whether it is another person, animal, object, or food. And it becomes a habit. A habit of using other people and things to make ourselves feel good.


However, when you learn how to source your own happiness from inside of yourself, life becomes a lot easier, lighter, and relaxed. It isn’t easy to get out of our old habits, but this one is a habit that is worth trying to break.

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