I am a lonely person. This fact is not impacted by the number of friends or lovers I have, or by the level of sociability I am exhibiting or not exhibiting. It is a part of my personality. I feel apart, often.
Apart. This is not the same as alone. I think that’s important. I don’t feel alone, exactly. Unless I actually am. Separate, apart–this is closer. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I used to fight the hell out of it. For most of my life I have put up with terribly selfish or outright cruel relationships, platonic and otherwise, because even being hurt was better than being by myself.
That’s a hard thing to think about myself, but there you go. And this is very important: just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s sad. This isn’t sadness or depression, this is something else entirely. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself; I don’t want anyone else to, either. My fish are not dead; they’d just like to be by themselves sometimes.
What I’m trying to do is cultivate more compassion. This isn’t always easy, because no one has higher standards for me than I do–I know when I am half-assing things, especially loving myself more. I want to be so much better some days. In all things, not just my emotional state, but that’s especially clear and faulty-feeling when it arises. For so long, I wanted to just not be lonely. Which for me is sort of like wanting to not be short.
Instead of cultivating deep friendships and surrounding myself with a few people who loved me for who I was (crazy and kind and analytical and driven), I frantically shmooshed all sorts of people around me like a dyke against the sea. I put up with a lot of bullshit so that I wouldn’t have to see that ocean stretching out like constant drowning to the horizon.
But loneliness (first of all) isn’t going anywhere, not matter how high I build that bodywall, and (second of all) isn’t the worst condition I could have. It must have taken most of 40 years to realize these two things. This doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes react … un-ideally … to my fears and panic, but you’ve got to admit, it’s getting better all the time.
This is what I was thinking about during my 90 minute meditation today. I was thinking about what I’ve let go of in the last couple of years, and what I’ve found to replace it: best friends, great views, so many wonderful words.
When I quit smoking, there was this mantra on quitnet.com (a great place for quitters, fwiw): “Your cravings will continue whether you smoke or not, so you might as well not.” This is exactly the same thing as the ache that washes over me at intervals–it will recede whether I fill my moments with other people or not, just like it will come back.
It’s busted wiring, an everlasting gobstopper of a craving or the over-sensitivity of an artist or a fucking gift that allows me to see things really hard and beautifully, because sometimes I think that the seeing’s all I have. It’s like a birthmark, and rather than try to lance it, I’m gonna rock it like Marilyn and Madonna.
When I’m on the open road, there are long moments, when scenery slides past like herds of elephants in white and black and brown and green, when I blast the music and sing along to the saddest bastard music that I’ve got on my iPod–and I laugh like a fucking loon, a beautifully broken loon.