However, today's New York Times had an article that made me think maybe I'm not being such a big baby. Read this: "But as all too many people with severe chronic diseases know, loved ones can disappear, leaving them to bear their difficulties in lonely isolation. Social rejection activates the very zones of the brain that generate, among other things, the sting of physical pain. Matthew D. Lieberman and Naomi Eisenberg ... have proposed that the brain’s pain centers may have taken on a hypersensitivity to social banishment because exclusion was a death sentence in human prehistory. They note that in many languages the words that describe a “broken heart” from rejection borrow the lexicon of physical hurt.
That's me, in a nutshell. Full article online. (I was also intrigued by the discussion about "mirror neurons" and "emotional contagion," which seems to express scientifically my belief that joy (joie de vivre) is an attractant - happy people draw people to them because they want to "catch" the emotion. It probably also means depression drives people away, which is unfortunate as it would reduce the depressed person's ability to improve.)
By the way, despite being sick now and dealing with mental trauma from moving, I've actually felt pretty happy for most of the last month, in great deal due to the reasons described in the article. Hopefully the many irritants I'm dealing with as a foreign resident will slowly go away. So far, life here feels pretty good, and sometimes, like when I'm standing on the stairs watching the light of setting sun reflecting off of the clouds over Saint James Park, life seems beautiful and strange and very, very good.
PS: If I was one of your loved ones and I hurt you by disappearing from your life, I want to let you know that I'm sorry. I hope you'll forgive me for trying to figure out if I could make this dream of mine work. Almost everyone I know in Seattle seemed so independent it is hard for me to imagine my departure leaving much more behind than the tiniest of ripples.