I had a realization the other day while sitting outside. It was a cold day for a late March evening, but I certainly didn’t mind it. I sat there, listening to wind rustling through the leaves of the trees around me, the birds pursuing the interests necessary to maintaining their ephemeral lives. As I reflected upon the fact that I almost missed the white, snow-silenced world this place had been just months ago, I was trying to think of a word that summed up being outside in the winter months. And I found it. Lonely. Loneliness, I realized, is my element.
I have been lonely for so long it is the state of being I am most comfortable with.
That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt. It does.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have immense difficulty trusting people. My biological father was abusive to me and my mother, with his fists and his words. People don’t realize the damage words can do. They are shocked and horrified by violence, which I have been through quite a lot of. I can honestly say that, whether intentionally or not, he very nearly killed me once, when he shoved me from a staircase. I landed in a bloody heap at the bottom of the stairs, and lay there for a minute, before I surprised both of us by pulling myself up and limping to the bathroom to clean the blood from my face. That night I suffered from what I have since realized was likely head trauma, and I woke up to find my body shaking uncontrollably and my mother crying beside my bed. But I digress. I only meant to offer an example of his physical abuse. People can see the damage that those injuries caused me (blood, head trauma, a broken rib that never healed back right) but they can’t so easily see the damage that his words caused me. But I am sure that he is at very least partly the reason why I have such low confidence, and such difficulty connecting to people.
That, and the fact that I moved so very frequently (less than twenty times already in my short life). I think always leaving people behind shortly after I met them hindered my ability to form relationships. At several points, I stopped even bothering to associate with people. I knew I’d be leaving them behind anyway, and I was tired of facing that pain. My predictions were always correct.
When I am around people, even those I call friends, I feel like I am faking every emotional response, every word I say. And I always feel the intense desire to get away, to retreat from the social situation and go be alone somewhere. This is an urge I know I must not give in to, but it is such a strong urge that I once wondered if I schizoid disorder. (I came to the conclusion that A) Loneliness causes me too much pain for me to be schizoid, and B) I shouldn’t be diagnosing myself).
But my loneliness extends to intimate relationships as well. In my entire life I’ve been asked out all of two, maybe three times, and not one of those was in high school. I realize I’m not drop-dead gorgeous, but take my word for it–I’m not ugly, I’m really not. I don’t understand what I lack. And, well, being so lonely affects a person. Whenever my close friends enter a new relationship I always display the right reactions–and let me make this clear, when it comes to close friends, I am not feigning happiness. If they are happy, I truly feel happy for them. But all the while there is an underlying feeling gnawing at my heart, and whispering in my ears, “Why can’t I have that? Why can’t I be happy?”
So, as always, I end up retreating into my mind, and retreating physically to somewhere quiet, like the place I mentioned earlier with the rustling leaves and birdcalls. Left alone, as ever. Left alone to wonder, why?