I have always been “alone” in many regards.
When I was a kid, I was alone a lot. My hippie parents would disappear for days, and I wouldn’t know where they were or when they were coming back. The other kids I knew from school I couldn’t relate to because they had a different existence than I did. By the time I was in second grade (7 yrs. Old) I was cooking for myself, taking care of myself, packing my own lunches, cleaning the house, being “responsible” for myself. I knew how to weigh and package pot and hash, had stepped over junkies on my way to the bathroom, had navigated adult parties and festivals with adults not in their right mind, saved myself when lost at a mall or a peace march, was up at 5am to feed chickens, pigs, horses, goats, and cows before getting myself ready for school and was caring for a baby (my brother). I even knew how to drive – LOL. I was navigating the crazy inner workings of my parent’s minds to stay safe and stay out of trouble while simultaneously trying to anticipate what might make them happy or make things go smoother. I had nothing in common with the other kids. I was “on my own” and alone.
As I got older, I figured out how to appear to be more normal so I could “fit in”. I couldn’t really have friends because I still had nothing in common with the other kids and I knew my house wasn’t safe so I couldn’t ever have anyone over until I was a teenager (by then I guess I figured they were old enough to escape should craziness break out). My “friends” were random adults my parents knew who thought I was precocious and interesting. As a teenager, I did form some friendships (mostly with older kids) – although they never knew all the crazy shit I had been through in prior years… I adjusted to fit in with them. Also moving every year or sometimes more than once a year, friendships couldn’t last (we didn’t have cell phones and texting back then). Then of course starting businesses from age 13 onward put another divide between myself and others my age… then I left school at 16.
I went to college for a while at night. No people my age were there. I worked with people much older than myself… they had friends and spouses and sometimes children. So although I was friendly with them, we weren’t really friends – we had nothing in common except work. I was invited to some things by those people, but I was out of element and not comfortable enough to be a great guest.
When I got married, my husband became my best friend and his family and friends became my friends… well, as much as my husband would allow anyway… I wasn’t allowed to talk about anything he decided he didn’t want me to talk about (which really limits the depth of friendships). And again, always starting and running businesses while running a household and raising children I was very busy… no time for forming outside friendships. I volunteered at school a lot and took my kids to a million activities – but I had nothing in common with the other moms except that we had children. I was juggling business things, dealing with a bi-polar husband, responsible for the family’s income and stability… they were not.
After I left my husband I formed a few friendships, but I struggled to maintain them because again – we still lived very different lives. I had a team of people I was responsible for working for me, complex interactions with an ex and his family, legal issues, tax issues, and businesses to run. My friends had spouses and really weren’t responsible for much other than simple things like looking pretty for their husband and planning the next family vacation. Divorce killed the friendships I had during my 24-year marriage – the Ex made sure of that…
Guys are easiest to be friends with. I’m not sure why… maybe it’s because they don’t spend as much time talking about “fluffy” stuff? Or maybe because they understand the weight of responsibility more? (Well my ex-husband didn’t know the feeling of responsibility so maybe not all men do…) I don’t know. The problem is though, can you ever really be friends with the opposite sex on a deep level over a long period of time without some sort of sexual energy coming up or jealousy showing up in some way from their partners? I think not. Some of my very best friends have been men and it always ends up with their partner or mine feeling there is more to the friendship or something to be concerned about when there isn’t… or someone ending up with some “feelings” that have to be dealt with.
Then of course many friendships I had made post-divorce came to an end after Robert died. Robert had become my best friend as well as my partner, and his friends became my friends. Death makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Fuck – it’s uncomfortable for everyone. No one knows how to “be” around someone whose partner has died. They try… they touch base, but they can’t comprehend and don’t know what to do. Friendship fades. The glue dissolves.
The last ten years I also seem to have taken up the moving habit my parents had. I’ve had 8 different addresses in the last 10 years… Can’t be friends with the neighbors if you are always moving. I’ve been in the same industry for 37 years, so I have a lot of acquaintances… but very few “friends”. Most of the friends I’ve had in the last 40 years were eliminated by divorce and death, then a few due to pandemic stress and us not seeing each other or keeping in touch (I’m bad about that)… really I only have one person right now I would call a real “friend”. And he let me down in a big way recently… so still alone in everything.
My dad always told me “No one is coming to save you”. He was right. No one has. The only person I have ever had to be there for me consistently was myself. I have no “network” … no “safety net” … I’m just up here on the high wire by myself. It’s really kind of sad and pathetic. When you don’t have the companionship of others, it becomes apparent that despite the lack of human connection, you continue to exist… and with nobody other than yourself as a guide, you are completely and utterly responsible for your own life. Your happiness cannot depend on someone else and the only approval that matters is your own. Alone, you fully understand how utterly separate your existence is… You are the only person who hears your thoughts, sees what you see, and feels what you feel… this leads to the realization that it is absolutely impossible for anybody else to truly understand you in your entirety (which makes you even more alone). And when it’s “just you”, all alone – you have to face the realities of your life and tackle your obstacles all by yourself. You also realize some people fill their world full of people and “interaction”, but I would rather have quality than quantity. Quality and depth. I’d rather be alone than spend time with people I don’t really care for.
My therapist has on her “To Do” list to work on the place in the amygdala where it is stored that I always have to be the one responsible for everything. I wonder how I will survive if that gets erased or reprogrammed (through Gestalt and EMDR). I doubt it can even be done… she thinks that may be in the way of finding a new life partner… someone I can have “shared responsibility” with. We will see. You have to “trust” someone to share responsibility. My trust has been broken by so many people… Can I trust? (Issue for another day…)
There is a big difference between aloneness and loneliness. I’m alone a lot. I’m okay with alone. I’m lonely sometimes. I was really lonely as a kid and after Robert died. Come to think of it I was lonely in my marriage a lot… and I can be “alone” in a room full of people sometimes. I’m not real lonely right now… just alone. I wonder if that’s why there is always so much going on in my mind… because I’m not out there with other people doing things people do together. That thought makes me miss having a partner and makes me feel lonely ☹… “people doing things people do together”. I have to shake that off and work… I don’t have time for those feels.