My day went from good to terrible last night on the turn of a dime, because if a picture tells a thousand words, I got a million of them in one very candid snapshot and they all told me something I’ve long resisted.
The things I hope for, what I’ve really wanted, are probably not going to come true, because as we all know, life just isn’t fair to everyone.
It’s fair to the people who already have everything, or at least, have the appearance of having everything, but it’s not fair to everyone.
When you grow up in as dysfunctional a family as mine is and your only real relationship was based around the insanity which is codependency, like mine was, once you are finally free and clear of all of that, the one thing you find yourself desperately trying to capture is any hope of what you see as normality.
You want to be able to be involved in relationships with people who challenge, excite, inspire and bring out the best aspects of who you are. As a culture, we tell ourselves that such things are indeed possible, after all, no matter how damaged or outright broken a person may appear to be.
We wax poetic about the hyper-romanticized notion of coming together from two polar opposite directions, meeting in the middle, and that magical spark igniting into the prototypical ur-model of how every fairy tale fantasy relationship is supposed to go.
Except this is reality…the same rules do not apply here. And yet, it still manages to happen for the majority of people I know.
It does not, however, happen to me.
There’s countless reasons for this, of course, and I am well aware that the greater majority of them fall squarely on my shoulders. I’ve known that for a long time and I’d like to think I’ve done my fair share of work to correct them.
But while a person can make the conscious choice out of necessity to be alone, it’s a bit more complicated when it comes to the concept of loneliness.
I’ve been alone for five years now, but I have been lonely for far longer than that.
Nobody like to talk about loneliness in the same way we don’t like it when depression or mental illness is brought up. In our narrow tunnel-vision perspectives, the idea that on a planet of seven billion people, in the age of social media and instant connectivity, there isn’t any possible way someone could even begin to feel remotely lonely or disconnected from everyone else.
Well…here I am.
Most days, I’m forced to tell myself that this is just how things are. That I am alone by necessity rather than choice. My experiences over the past three decades have both taught and reinforced in me the belief that no one will have me, because I am so profoundly imperfect that my role is more the proverbial stepping stone.
I’m the guy that women lean on until they ultimately find who they’re looking for so they can go on to live their lives of Riley. Then I’m discarded without much of a thought of what that does to me in terms of self-confidence and self-worth.
It’s a miserable existence, if I’m honest, because it means bearing the slings and arrows of hoping that this person could be someone whom I could tie my emotions to, only to have them turn around and give me any number of excuses and supposed rationales for why it simply will not happen.
In that sort of environment, loneliness is an ever-present entity, always sitting in the back of your mind.
When I made the decision to retire from pursuing any new relationships, I guess there was the naive thought that it would eliminate the loneliness. That because I wasn’t going to allow myself to be attached anymore or to let myself establish any connections going forward, being self-sufficient and self-contained would be enough, because it had to be.
Then I get moments like last night, seeing someone I cared about more than anything being very happy with someone else, and it hits me square in the heart like a newly-forged knife.
And I get yet another reminder of how life isn’t fair. How we don’t get everything we want. How that’s not the way the world works.
Editorial Note: It never fails that the people who often tell me that are all ones who more or less have everything they want already, and I’ve often wondered were the positions ever reversed, would I be so sanctimonious to make the same observation to someone who’s standing where I am now? I sure as hell hope not.
I know I’ll go to work in a little bit and distract myself long enough that just like my depression and PTSD, it will fade into the background enough for me to function. I’ll do the whole stiff upper lip/chin up/don’t let them see you cry/keep to yourself Anglo-bullshit that we’ve been told to do since time immemorial because that’s how we’re suppose to properly deal with such things.
But the loneliness is always there, even when I’m sitting in a crowded room.
How I’ve always combated it was the same thing I used to ward off my depression and anger and pain during the times I was so sure they were going to consume me.
The crazy, illogical belief that maybe…just maybe…what I want to happen, even in the face of overwhelming odds that it won’t, just might.
After last night, though, I guess I’m not feeling so hopeful anymore.