Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finding Value in the Discomfort of Loneliness

I've been spending progressively more time alone in the last year and acutely more time within the past two months.

In September my partner started some contract work with a company in San Francisco. We'd been living together in Seattle for 2 years before this. In order to stay close I agreed to house and pet sit for some of my partner's relatives about 70 miles to the north.

In the last seven months we lived together I was out of work and he was working a 40 hour week. I ended up spending huge swathes of time alone in our apartment.

Being two hours away from him in Davis the loneliness is often very acute.

I do have new friends but having only just met them there is not enough trust there for me to access the intimacy I crave when I feel lonely. I'm lucky that I get to see my partner on most weekends. We're only a train ride apart and for that I am deeply thankful. But the weekdays themselves can feel particularly lonely. It's harsh, but also extremely valuable.

Have this gift of so much time alone has forced me to realize that my feelings of loneliness are not so much about wanting or need to be be around people or or to share m experiences with other people. My loneliness is a combination of my hunger for intimacy and my deep and insistent restlessness. The hunger was not a surprise. I love being with others, even when it's tiring and taxing on my system.

But the restlessness was a shocking to me. Not that it should have been. People have been complimenting to drive and commitment for years saying things like "I don't think I could really work as hard on stuff if I were unemployed" and "I think you would really get a lot out of an artist's residency because you will sit down and face your craft." Less than two weeks into my stay in Davis I was riding my host's bike to Sacramento and back.

It would be dishonest of me to say that I don't also feel drawn to just mire in bed all day eating microwaved quesadillas and watching back to back episodes of Columbo.

But I need more than that and what being alone stokes inside of me is that fiery itch to pay attention to what my body needs to out. What words are lurking under the false control of my conscious mind? What journeys need journeying?

I don't think I ever feared being alone except for along the lines of Marianne Williams

In the past I've feared my restlessness (in which might be the seeds of greatness?). But now I try to run to it. It takes me to a place where I forget that being alone is not the horror our culture makes it out to be.

I can even forget the hunger I feel for intimacy. For a little while anyway.

In all honesty I probably started this daily blogposting business in some small part because I feel somewhat staved for intimacy. This forum allows me some sort of intimacy with the people who read about me and my thoughts.

Last night I had two of my friends (one of them new and another one I've known a long time but only online) tell me they felt a little bit creepy reading some of the thoughts I posted. But the thing is I don't mind random people knowing about mental, emotional, and physical struggles.

I'm certainly not against anybody who wishes to keeping such information private, but I wish there was less of a cultural taboo on talking about (mental/emotional) health problems. While I'm sharing primarily it because I want to, I also am sharing my stories of dis-ease and mental/emotional illness because I want to assuage the stigma people feel about their own health concerns.

Also the filter of this blog, while quite revealing, still leaves me with most of my experiences and their details largely unshared. Even daily, this writing of posts is just a skimming off the top of what I experience and feel. Only I, alone, can dive deep down into my experiences and harvest the nutrients and rich texture of seaweed roots.

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