There is this moment… just before I put on my bedtime modality, as I slip between two inviting ivory sheets… when I feel a hushed and haunting sadness. An unvoiced and sequestered ache. I quietly yearn for someone to lean over and stroke my messy hair. A familiar presence in a shared space to whisper to… cantabile revelations of my nonsensical thoughts and candy-coated dreams. To softly kiss goodnight, and to feel, in turn, the warm and wanting touch of affection on my naked soul. It is in that time, mere minutes, which stretch out into a darkened lacuna, when I am most acutely aware of being alone.
It’s not necessarily agonizing, just poignantly real.
Being alone is a complex notion. I have known people, cohesive and coupled, who have families… husbands and wives, children, parents, pets, an overgrown ivy… with someone lying right by their side every night… and yet they feel entirely isolated.
It’s only now, after years of quiet insularity, have I extinguished a long-lived sense of aloneness. In these past few years, I have managed to share my providential path with special people who happened upon me, and those who were given birth rights to know me (meaning genetically required to love me!).
I discovered that bona fide bonds are formed from times of closeness, and from endowing the Beautiful inside each of us.
I now have an deep understanding that much like the freshness of morning picked berries… the sweetest time, gifted to be shared with others, is short-lived. The togetherness days, ripe and delicious, are markedly brief. The days are also indefinite. If we forego that time which builds memories and meaning, there is no certainty it will come again. One must indulge in the redolence of relationships as often as possible.
For many years, not to be recaptured, I missed countless opportunities to reveal myself to the people who stood upon my porch, hoping to be invited in. And I forewent numerous chances to luxuriate in the intimate spa of shared moments. I simply did not afford myself the comfort of closeness, nor allow myself to foster cozy friendships.
Work. Work was my excuse. My justification. My apology. I concealed myself, as do many. We are the handicapped souls in this world who are unable to truly give themselves, with an unqualified pureness, to a spouse, a child, a friend, and others. It is the most unfortunate of occupational hazards.
Often my professional endeavors dictated a move. With the rented Ryder packed with plenty of ‘things’ but only a smattering of memories, there came an intentional separation from closeness… a repeated return to unfamiliarity. And taking up residency in each new zip code brought an aching, unconfessed void.
Career aspirations… that is, by and large, a reliable, easy explanation for my mostly unaccompanied journey. The truth lies in much deeper places. Relocating again and again prevented me from building roots. My choices- deliberate and cogitated- are the reason my landscape was starved and sacrificed, to where little could grow. I was like a planter box with moribund ivy and unsalvageable jasmine, never given the chance to come into season or trail tender vines to its solid surroundings. The lack of beaming sunlight and drenching rain upon my neglected garden was not caused by circumstance. The fault was my own.
Thanks to my keen ability to tightly grip retrievable childhood agony, I became convinced of the damning effects when one’s heart is made public. I withheld myself from people and places in a purposeful effort to avoid the frailties and failures of love. In order to prevent a genuine need, I took all necessary measures to stave off attachment, of any sort.
Throughout my young adulthood, I traveled away from the ties of friendship and family, distancing myself from emotional bonds, in a relentless pursuit of an asternal life. Averting the inevitable hurt that comes when we are unmasked, vulnerable, exposed, and fallible. From the grade school incubus of abandonment to a tattered college journal filled with unspoken anguish rendered from the acidic judgments and ridicule aimed at me by pretty dorm mates, my memory served as magistrate, deciding my secession from social intimacy, time and again. In those discomfited years, my heart, so injured and fragile, had managed to build around it an impregnable wall.
I found myself utterly bewildered at the ability for people to damage one another, with callous disregard for the lasting pain found in their deprecating words… their inconsiderate actions… and, worst of all, their perennial absence. I wanted nothing of that experience… to have my emotions exposed, and then to stomach the rejection when someone quits me.
With every conceivable scrap I could find, I continued to reinforce my surprisingly sturdy wall which kept most everyone outside my insignificant space, for what seemed like an eternity.
What I have since learned is that the words, actions and absence of others… their love or lack of love… were not the source of my pain. The trauma came from within- oceanic wounds, unhealed for decades, further periled by my regrettable self-image.
No one was hurting me. I presumed the offense, predicted the suffering, and expeditiously moved myself away from possible bruising, as though the emotional toll of a relationship was, in actuality, a disguised form of uncurable, life-threatening cancer.
I now understand the injuries of life cannot be deflected… the anguish cannot be nullified… if we are to share our life, and our soul, with meaning and purpose. I must accept all of the pain that comes with abrasive words, unrecoverable love, a ruined relationship, or a misplaced friendship. I need to gracefully bear the disapproval, disregard, and disposition of me, which others may do in the course of our time together.
Should I know someone for a day or for a decade, I must be willing to take on possible hurt and disappointment as genuine feelings associated with my heart. Only then can the garden within flourish, tender vines given the freedom to extend outward, connecting to this superbly imperfect world.
It is a blissful recognition that more good comes from sharing my world than from protecting it to a point of solitude. I no longer internalize the words, actions or absence of others in that all-consuming, acute manner. What a person chooses to say and what they choose to do, or not do, is for them to own. It is a reflection of their character, not of my value.
My journey is enriched because I have invited in the bedlam, and the beauty, of relationships.