I always thought it was strange when people would say things like “I never knew love until him.” I understood that they’ve felt a love that was greater than any love they had felt before, thus bringing a new insight, just not why an epiphany (no matter how profound) makes every other love somehow false when the latter would have never been found if not for those stepping stones. I feel like I’ve reached this profound level of loneliness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been lonely. I’m sure we all have, but this is different.
I got married at nineteen and was divorced shortly thereafter. I was engaged again and left again (I’m a serial monogamist.) and right after hurricane Katrina I met Greg. I was twenty-six. He was smart and opinionated and passionate about his beliefs, and he was built like a linebacker and I never once doubted whether or not my safety could be compromised. Life happens though and we are all damaged. Mine and Greg’s collective damage was destructive and I had to walk away. For the last four and a half years we’ve kept in touch and been there for each other (we don’t have sex- we’re just friends.) but this last year its been rough. If there is a fight, I need to leave and cool off, gather my composure and find some sense of perspective before I discuss anything. I’m not comfortable in a “fly off the handle” position and I don’t want to say things that I either will regret or won’t even feel anymore once I’ve calmed down. Greg hated that and wanted to hash it out as the moment came so he could get it out and get it over with. I think words are permanent and just how I didn’t want to say something in anger that I’d regret, I didn’t want him to say something to me just to hurt me that I might never be able to really let go of. Not everything always needs to be said. My inability to argue under duress had gotten to be too much for him and we’ve stopped keeping in touch. From his perspective I run away from problems when they arise only to try to rehash them later when it should no longer be an issue.
I withdraw. I do have a messed up personality trait (many, actually, as do most of us) of withdrawing. I actually know partly where this came from. When I was a child I had a friend who never wanted to be alone. Her grandmother lived a few houses down from my Mother and one summer she wanted me to come spend the night. Everyday I’d get ready to go home and she never wanted me to leave, even my Mother said not to wear out my welcome there and to come home but she kept saying I was practically doing her grandmother a favor by keeping her busy and begged me not to leave her there. I stayed about three or four days and my Mother finally made me come home. So months and months go by and another little girl moved next door to my friend’s grandmother and we started to become friends. So one day she says she’s going to ask her mother if I can eat dinner with them and comes back and tells me that her mother said no and that I needed to go home (in an ugly way). Well naturally I got upset and wondered what I had done to deserve such a severe rejection from strangers, and asked her. She said that my friend’s grandmother had told her mom that I had come over and wouldn’t leave. The only way they could get rid of me was send her back to her parents across town and thus cutting their precious family time in half. I was so devastated and humiliated by that experience (I was only about eight years old at the time and this was the beginning of me being blackballed for something I didn’t do) that if I get even the slightest whiff of my presence not being purposeful or wanted I will withdraw emotionally. Now a lifetime of self-fulfilling prophecies has compounded the problem. I realize that it’s childish but it isn’t on purpose or a means to do harm to other people. It is extreme enough to be irreversible and when I have tried to not do it, it’s like trying to force myself to have an emotion for someone that just isn’t there anymore.
I’ve reached this point now where I’m just totally emotionally isolated. Greg was the last person who was willing to put up with my shit and he’s gone now and I’m truly alone. All of the little things that bother me and the everyday stresses of life that normal people have support or comfort through I go through alone because it seems inappropriate to just pick someone to suddenly lean on. I don’t even know where to start.