The sudden realization of worth once the object of worth is gone. A syndrome that recurs quite heavily in the lives of many unsuspecting victims. Most commonly found in person-to-person relationships but also emotionally possible in person-to-object associations. This is meant to be a guide to see if you or someone you know could potentially be in a situation that may end like this. Although by no means scientific, it's a nice way of conveying what I've observed both personally as well as in the lives of the countless people I've come across in my life thus far. I plan on using lots of person-to-person examples, so lets start this off with something simple so as to warm things up. Crank up your imagination and be prepared to possibly see shades of your life.
A Rush to Dismiss. You’re eating a candy bar early in the afternoon, content that your sweet tooth is satisfied, and the sweetness builds up in your mouth. Without much consideration, you toss the remaining portion into the wastebasket, awash in a feel of overload and disgust at the once delicious morsel of high fructose corn syrup. Many hours later, your crave for sugar returns, and you stand over the wastebasket looking down at the sweet treat covered in pencil shavings and a ripped receipt for bottled water. A tear builds in your eye, and you realize what a sucker you were not to think of later on, and acted rashly in the moment. A rush to remove it from your sight as soon as it looses its initial appeal is the key factor to this scenario. Scenario also works with a multitude of other desired “objects,” such as friends, significant others, and neon blue t-shirts acquired in the Bahamas. In either case, you’ve managed to permanently dispose of something in a split second of ill feelings without consideration for what it may mean to you in the future. Unless you really like that woody smell and crunch mixed into your food. (Then I recommend resin wine, but chances are you’ll be drinking that alone.)
Too Much Comfort. A very common scenario, especially in my life. Although most commonly found in relationships that have a high level of security, it can also be manifested upon anything, or anyone, that one sees as being consistent and is seemingly sure to remain a constant in your life. To fulfill the “until it’s gone” part of the syndrome, one person (or the object) in the scenario must either change dramatically or leave the relationship. This example, although generalized, will be represented with a relationship with too much comfort on the part of one person. Let’s say you and Suzy/Johnny are getting along nicely and build up a strong relationship, whatever that may be. Suzy/Johnny is thrilled at how much support and confidence you bring into the situation, and she/he grows very comfortable in what has been built between you two. You lavish trust and security upon them, as anyone in a stable relationship should. The comfort level becomes so high that Suzy/Johnny doesn’t see room for improvement, sees no possible end to the good stuff between the two of you, and stops the building and growing necessary to maintain a long-term relationship. Communication slowly wanes, and suddenly listening and learning is replaced with blind acceptance. The comfort she/he feels is just taken in with content, but it is taken without appreciation that you have made such a situation possible. You, on the other hand, see that all people must expand and constantly maintain that bridge which connects the two of you, and therefore don’t have the same level of blind comfort. Feeling ignored, neglected, unappreciated, and/or stuck, you decide it’s best that it’s better to grow alone than not to grow at all, and leave Suzy/Johnny in her/his pool of comfort alone. Suzy/Johnny suddenly realizes what she/he has lost. Your worth magically compounds, and their eyes re-open up to all that they initially saw in you. Realizations that the security and trust given are not just an automatic effortless occurrence, that you were actually capable of leaving, and suddenly their pool is full of regret. They suddenly realize that while they were wallowing in their own pool of contentment and comfort, they forgot that you were a totally different person capable of feeling unloved and unnoticed all the while. Suzy/Johnny was a sufferer and victim of You Don’t Know What You Have Until it’s Gone Syndrome through the lack of appreciation of a good thing.
Can’t Let You In. This is one scenario I’ve mainly observed, and have little personal experience with. However, I’ve seen it in action quite a bit, and know its consequences. Although quite similar to the Too Much Comfort scenario, this doesn’t require a pre-existing relationship to affect you. These sufferers tend to be extremely wrapped up in themselves, and they don’t even know it. How about an example we can all recognize if not from life, then from countless American teen movies? Okay, so we begin. Let’s say you’re trying to get the attention of a certain someone, and try to make it quite obvious you are interested. Doesn’t matter if it’s friendship or romance you’re after, the key is that you want to become closer with him/her. They, however, are so wrapped up in themselves that it’s hard for them to let anyone in at all. Most of them want to let someone in, but are afraid of engulfing the person in things they feel will just make the other person depressed or turned off. In fact, they may even get into relationship that is shallow just to stave off loneliness, but the reasons are usually selfish and mainly fulfill something within themselves rather than allow them to build a solid and meaningful relationship. Sure, a lot of these people are right not to get themselves into a relationship when they have major issues in their lives, but it’s when they don’t even try to explain that this is situation that you say you’ve got enough of trying and move on. The catch is that that’s usually when he/she realizes that they do want to let you in, but didn’t because of fear (or any overwhelming emotion of choice). Suddenly they see what you were truly worth to them, and the potential they overlooked while looking within themselves. He/she may even try and reverse his/her mistake, but usually it’s too little too late. Of course, you are most likely clueless that this was the case at all, yet both of you feel wrecked at the result. Sure, this is the stuff movies are made out of, but if life were a movie, you two would magically figure out what was going on, and accept one another to cheesey piano music that climaxes as you embrace. Until pianos are placed on every corner and John Tesh follows you around until you have that magic moment, chances are that reality will persist. Just an example that You Don’t Know What You Have Until it’s Gone Syndrome pretty much never has just one victim.
I Don’t Deserve You. Yet another situation I know quite well, personally and observed, and on both sides of the coin as well. We’ve all experienced this at one or another point in our lives. We usually feel this way about people we are afraid of disappointing somehow. But what is hard to see is whether you actually do or don’t deserve those people. That can be highly debatable as it is always a very unique situation and set of reasons to feel this, and there is no real formula to figure this one out. The point of this falling under as a scenario in You Don’t Know What You Have Until it’s Gone Syndrome is that there are times we do deserve to feel special in the eyes of someone who really truly cares, but the broken heart is very hard in accepting this. People do deserve other people for different reasons, and yet other times people don't. But if you don't, then there is an acceptance on one side or another that it's not meant to be. This is meant for those who both have parts which feel you might. Part of you knows you do deserve the feelings that this person inspires in you, but because of all your uncertainties you let it pass. You feel confused, pained, unsure of yourself, and because of that you feel you that they don’t deserve to be brought down with you. The best thing I can say about this one is to keep alive that feeling that you do somehow deserve what you can potentially receive, and figure out why you feel this way. Most of the time, if the person cares enough and/or is patient, they will stick around in your life for you to see how you feel about them and everything else. If you don’t find the strength to do this before things come to a breaking point, they may actually simply give up and decide for you that you truly don’t deserve them. Funny thing is that hope is a living thing, and if you don’t feed it, it will die. Another person’s hope for you is hard to revive once you’ve killed it, even if you truly did deserve it all. (I’m sorry Chris, but you didn’t give us the chance to even try.) This can also easily turn into I Can’t Let You In if you spend way too much time trying to figure yourself out that the other person, being put in the dark, just gets fed up and leaves. All of it can suddenly bring a huge realization that you did deserve the chance and it took a huge loss to allow you to see it. This is definitely a tricky one, and perhaps one of the more painful scenarios.
This is the best way I know how to explain You Don’t Know What You Have Until it’s Gone Syndrome. I expect that there are many spins on what this really all means, but this is what I've gathered from all I’ve lived to experience. I’m sure with time, I’ll add to this little definition of mine as well. Psychological, biological, or otherwise, it seems to be a theme in other lives besides mine. I hope someone will read this and possibly prevent some pain. This isn’t a clear-cut study, just my advice and observations. My most solid advice is to beware that is it a very sneaky thing, and whether you or someone you care for suffers from it, do your best not to get sucked in so far as to mess up a good situation. Effort, although sometimes difficult or seemingly unnecessary, may be the best way to combat this painful pattern in life. Whether it’s your friend or your candy bar, try and realize how much they mean to you, and how you would feel if they were no longer there. It may be a depressing or seemingly impossible thought when things seem hunky-dory, but life has many ups and downs. Learn to treasure someone in the present or else they just might end up being a glorious gem that shines only in memories.
Dedicated to everyone I've lost, and everyone who has lost me.