Since I haven’t been able to find a therapist yet, ya’ll are going to have to stand in. I need to get this stuff off my chest.
I have been lonely, in one form or another, for as long as I can remember. I’ve gotten so used to it, I’m coming to realize, that I can’t live without it. I don’t know how to live with others, how to let anyone else into my life. I thought I would be able to, but I can’t.
As far back as I can remember, I was always walking. In my earliest memories I’m despondently pacing the long, rutted driveway of the house I grew up in. There’s nowhere to go, but the place I have to return to doesn’t feel like home to me.
My mom left, and Dad and I moved into town, and the walks lengthened. As long as I was walking I could keep my troubles a half-step behind me. The hardest part was always turning around. Once I walked until I literally could walk no further because of the pain in my blistered feet.
Some of my fondest memories are from traveling. I have always loved riding in trains, airplanes, busses, and cars. I never got tired of watching the scenerey slide by beside me. I never felt more alive than when I was on unfamiliar territory, with my everyday life temporarily put aside and forgotten.
When I finally moved out and got my own apartment, the walks all but ceased. For the first time, I had nothing to run away from. The apartment was a place of safety. I was still desperately lonely, but it was the simple, peaceful loneliness of the truly alone. I hated the loneliness, but apart from that I was happy.
I met avivahg online, and I flew down to see her in person. More than I had experienced with anyone before, I felt safe and at home when I looked in her eyes, when she put her arms around me. I felt that if I could join her to me forever, then I would have that feeling of safety and home wherever I went. I would not feel lonely anymore. And I would have all I wanted.
Yet even sitting in the plane to return to Maryland (where I still lived at the time), having asked this woman to marry me, I felt the old familiar warmth in my heart as the plane taxied away from the gate. Even as I missed her, a part of my rejoiced in the feeling of being alone again, of moving up and away with human connections left behind me and the unknown future ahead. I have always felt this way, even when leaving the dearest of friends. Along with the heartache there is always that bouyance, the feeling of the wind filling my sails, the knowledge that I am complete in and of myself. I can remember very few departures where I didn’t feel that way. I do recall feeling nothing but loss when, as a 13-year-old, I took the train back to New Delhi, leaving behinf the only girl I ever unquestionably fell “in love” with. But even then, I imagine that the sight of the landscape rolling away behind me must have soothed me a little. Travel has always helped me to put the past safely and silently away.
There is no mystery here. Nearly everyone I cared deeply for has left me or been taken away from me somehow. I have learned to be self-sufficient – sometimes brutally so. And I don’t know how to change. At this late date, I cannot give my heart wholly to anyone. I always hold myself in reserve. This is why I believe I’m not capable of falling in love any more. It is not possible for me to have a love that I would give away everything, even my safe coccoon, for. Even if I wanted to with all my heart, I could not. Because there is a protective, parental part of my self which I have no control over, which keeps me from ever truly letting go.
My discontent is not just with who I’m with. Even when things are at their very worst, when I feel like I can’t go on this way, like it will never work out, I never dream of the “perfect woman” that would make everything okay. I never fantasize about “if only I had picked someone else…”, or about being a batchelour again and dating. I’ve never been remotely tempted to have an affair. My only fantasies are of being alone. The only person who’s company I crave is myself. I have lived so long alone that I seem almost addicted to it.
So I find myself, married, but still subconsciously thinking of myself as alone. I balk at having children together, because of the finality of commitment I see that as representing. For the same reason, I’m having a hard time getting excited about our planned “wedding” (really a renewal of vows, with the ceremony we never had). And as the Autumn wind sings wild, liberating songs in my ears, I feel the urge as I always do in this season to pick up and go. To just hit the road, and not look back. As I drive to work in the morning, with the red and gold and cobalt blue of the Fall horizon ahead of me, I feel that old warmth at the thought of driving away, with the unknown future ahead and all entanglements left behind.
It is all so simple. All so stereotypical. My mom left me, or that’s how my young mind perceived it, and so I seek to re-enact the pattern. But how to break out? How to instill in myself a love of togetherness that my closed heart refuses to accept? Moreover, how to overcome an emotional exhaustion brought on by years of stressful conflict and excite some passion for the endeavour? I don’t want to be broken forever. But I fear that I am too tired, and too unsure of my emotional safety, to be fixed right now. And I don’t know what life I will want when I am finally freed from this pattern. And part of me is afraid to find out.