Declarations of Acceptance
I was driving home from LAX last night and listening to music, feeling somewhat sad, somewhat let down, although I could not tell you exactly why...it felt like an old feeling, one that I have attempted to dodge for a very long time.
I think that the feeling started yesterday as I went and sat at the 4th of July parade alone. I like parades and no one else in my friend or family group does, so instead of not going, I went alone. And as I sat there alone in the shade, I watched all the friends and families do their thing.
At first, I felt awkward. A little loser like because I was there alone and didn’t have anyone with me. I mean EVERYONE was surrounded by people they at least appeared to care about, except me and this one other guy on a bicycle...we gave each other a nod in solidarity for the people who were in attendance solo. I think he felt the same as I did.
But as I sat there solo, something happened to me and for me. I realized that I had been fighting this feeling the whole of my life. As an only child, I was alone a lot. And for some reason, a very long time ago, I decided that alone was bad. I decided alone meant something that I am not sure it ever really meant, that I was not worthy of being with others.
And I think I have been fighting that battle ever since. Surrounding myself with people, friends, boyfriends, whomever would come along to ruin my aloneness. And I needed it. It was like me in solitary form was unacceptable and must be changed immediately. And that is what the last 51 years have been like for me. A struggle to maintaining connection with others, even others that I didn’t like, didn’t want to really be around, or were not that great of people. I needed to be wanted.
As I sat there alone in my chair yesterday, I realized that all those people who were at the parade with others were not really wanted. I mean some of them had to be there out of obligation. Some of them had to be annoyed with who they were with. Still others were probably wishing they were with other others. And probably many of them don't like parades at all.
What came to me next was that I missed something vitally important, I needed to want to be with me. And until yesterday, I never realized that my compulsive being with others and my need to surround myself with people, was a leaving of myself. I think I have touched this before but it was profound yesterday as I sat in my chair watching the horses, tractors, and antique cars pass me by...I realized that I was actually happy to there alone. I was grateful that I didn’t have to chit chat with people, that I was on my own time table. That I was a free agent, I could come, stay as long as I liked and then leave.
I am not completely sure, but I think that I finally accepted my singleness in this world. Perhaps I am not meant to partner. Perhaps all this dating and running about is just me trying to avoid that which is inevitable...that I am perhaps happier and enjoy my life alone more...
I have a friend who says that he experiences a low level depression whenever he is in a committed partnership...and I never knew I felt that way too until he said it. I have always felt it and then me being me, worked really hard to cover it up so that no one would ever know...my own feelings being something that I have forever apologized for and hid from others...and apparently myself.
Sometimes when I am talking with someone, I feel the need to hide my eyes, like I do not want to be seen. That I am too vulnerable and exposed. Sunglasses help with this a lot. But when sunglasses are not available without being weird, I often find myself breaking someone’s gaze because I need a reprieve from the view. I need to leave, if only momentarily so that I can regain myself.
Kind of a weird awakening to have in the middle of a 4th ofJuly parade but I had it nonetheless. And it stayed with me all day. This feeling of fighting aloneness. Like I had been waging this war against myself and my solitude for so many years...and that I was tired.
I spent the afternoon reading and floating in the pool in the backyard. I had a BBQ for one as my children were uninterested in eating anything that did not involve sugar and carbs. And I ate in the backyard while I watched the world go by, listening to music and feeling only a little loser like.
I had to drive a friend and her kids to LAX last night to take off to the East Coast for the summer. On my way home I was driving on the freeway surrounded by throngs of people and realized that this was actually a good metaphor for how I feel a great deal of the time...among others but kind of sealed off from them, contained by my self. And I wrestled with it...
The thoughts came to and fro and back again, all the thoughts crowding out the one refrain that has been constant...”I don’t want to be alone.”
And I realized that from my earliest days I have been working very hard to avoid that feeling. Like really hard, pathologically hard.
And I felt restless and irritable with it as I usually do. I felt like reaching out and making a call to someone to relieve me from it. But I didn’t. I sat with it, driving on the 101 towards home, allowing the feeling to permeate my whole being.
I was alone.
And then something new happened...I decided I didn’t care. Not in a fuck you kind of way, but in a quiet, humble kind of way. I felt like the child battling their parent for freedom, taking it wherever they could, and realizing that sometimes that freedom they were fighting for wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And finally collapsing into your parents' arms, exhausted from the fight and the leveling recognition that it was a huge relief to not be completely in charge of your life yet.
It felt like that, except I was the child and God was the parent. I felt like I could just sit in this new place, much like I did at the parade, a quiet recognition dawning that I not only was ok alone, I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t need to compulsively attempt to change my status, and I didn’t need to feel like a loser anymore either. I could just be ok with who and what I am. And I could just allow the universe to be in charge of who and what comes into my life.
Sometimes acceptance is a hard ask. It comes with very hard terms and takes forever...and sometimes you are driving on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles and you are overcome with a feeling of peace for who you are, what you are and all the very many things that you are not.
Sometimes acceptance is a small quiet place, but yesterday it was a feeling of expansive change that was burgeoning in my chest. A quiet blooming of a bud long tightly held together, a relaxing and unfurling of one’s personage that has long been held in bondage.
When one has revolutionary ideas on the eve of the 4th of July, one cannot miss the feeling of independence. One cannot gloss over the fundamental switch in thought patterns and ideas. One can see that sometimes declarations of independence come while driving on an LA freeway in the dark. And sometimes, you land right back in yourself even though you never ever really left.
As I looked ahead at the horizon, fundamentally changed in my acceptance of this life, myself and where I am at the moment, I saw fireworks exploding in the distance. They were low on the horizon, brilliant flashes of light that lit up the night sky with their flash. I was too far away to hear the bang, feel the percussion in my chest. But it was no accident that I saw them all the same.
And I had me a not so tiny revolution of acceptance. A fifty one year battle laid to rest. And as the dust of my solitary war settled, I saw a beacon that was my future. It was hazy because of all the smoke from the newly acquired cease fire brought about by a new surrender. And while the way is not clear, I found peace all the same. Accepting that what is here now is all that I need, regardless always of what I think to the contrary.