Almost ten years ago, damn… has it been that long… my therapist told me that that I was ‘good being alone’. I smiled. She was right. I am good at being alone. I’ve learned to like myself, for the most part, and I have many interests that catch my attention and time. I find joy and happiness in a lot of things. I’m happy on runs, in the forest, reading books, at the movies, and more. My average day is one filled with many small moments of contented happiness. When I spend my time with people it is for the added joy that they bring me. I find amazing people and add them to my long list of friends. In all honesty I believe that the people on my list of friends are the greatest people in the world. Some of them I see every few weeks, or every few months, or years, or once every decade or so. The time between does not lessen my love for them, my gratitude that I know them. I’ve said it before, that if I were have my life judged and one were to look at the people that are my friend, my life would be judged good.
My alarm rings at 05:45 every morning. Thought my commute to the Army class is 5 minute walk, and chow is served at 07:10, I still get up over an hour early. I am a morning person in that I am sharpest, most productive, and clear headed early in the morning. I love the quiet promise of a virgin day. My optimistic self relishes the coffee in my mug and my task manager on my computer screen as I settle into looking at what lies ahead of me.
This morning I awoke at 04:00. Lying in the small twin bed, the sort I’ve lived on the months as I’ve performed my Army duties, I was immensely aware of how lonely I was. I awoke into this state, as though I had been dreaming it all along and awoke to its reality. I laid in the dark, looking at the fact that I’ve passed by the decades of my youth, gone through years, still learning and growing and getting better at people, better at relationships, better at vulnerability, better at sharing and listening and so on… but still… here I am, lying in the dark, with nobody to call home. Even though I am good alone and 99% of my time I am joyfully content and filled with laughter, that 1% is still there. My deepest, most heartfelt wish, is for two of the most rare things to occur at the same time; that I could fall in love with someone deeply, and they could fall in love with me. I’ve loved people who haven’t loved me, and have not loved people who loved me. When it has co-occured, a rarity, it seems that something has messed it up. More times than not it was probably me. It is easy to beat myself up over it, but I try to move past it and learn and prepare for the opportunity for the next one. I cannot live with the idea of only one match for a heart. The world is too big and that is too much pressure to live by (it was a reasoning behind my first suicide ideation).
I laid in bed, in the dark, at 04:00 in the morning, looking at my state of affairs. I was no real catch, I was still figuring out how to get into grad school, I was still not in a ‘career’ and working different jobs every year or so. I had great years and lean years financially. I tell myself that I keep trying to learn how to be better at love, but the patterns are all the same… 2-6 months and things fall apart. I am knocking on 46 and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to expect change in the next 4 years. The very real thought occurred to me that I will pass 50, still alone, and move toward 60 and beyond. If I’m lucky enough to live longer than that, I was left wondering what hope had I in finding a mate.
I am reminded of something that I told my therapist during one session. I was very good at holding back emotions and ‘self regulating’ in our sessions. She worked to get me to connect with them, something that was important for me to learn how to be with people again. In one of our sessions she managed to get to something that I didn’t know was buried inside but has been clear since. As is often the case when I am delving deeply into matters of emotions, I cannot communicate in words but resort to images that flicker in my mind. In discussing needs and wants and desires, an image came to mind. I told her that I saw a flash of a woman on a couch, sitting there. I couldn’t see her face, but it was instantly known to me that she was a partner. In this image I saw that I was sitting on the floor, in uniform, and my head was in her lap and she just stroked my hair.
Writing this out as such it can seem to suggest a variety of themes, none of which are true. Instead what I got from the image was this… That I was constantly trying to be the dutiful man, doing what was required of me and necessary. I was tired of things that I had done in life, things done in war, effort done to provide, and so on. And in this moment I was able to let my guard down, to not posture with a show of strength, not to have to prove myself as anything, not to try to show that I was tough or honest or a hard worker or anything, all of which can be exhausting. I was simply resting, letting my wearing head rest in the lap of my partner, my love, my mate. And in the image, how she held my weary head, as I slumped into her, how she stroked my hair, was filled with love. There was no judgment, no accusations, only love. With this person I could close my eyes for a moment, let down my guard, and rest, and be accepted as the flawed, contradicting, mucking things up, but ultimately someone who wants to do well and live honorably person that I am.
I laid in bed this morning, at 04:00, in the dark, utterly awake, and realized that I did not have that. That I was still alone. The possibility that there would not be any change in this weighed down on me like a heavy blanket. I felt completely alone. Not the same as a person without friends, I have many. I am the most blessed person on the planet. You should really meet my friends… They are beautiful people, and they are all different in many, many ways. But I felt alone in the other way, the way that most people on the planet feel sometimes.
And I went back to sleep.