The Voice of Solitude...
It has changed over the years. I mean when I was a kid, an only child, I was so lonely. Or at least that was the story I told myself. Looking back from where I am today, it looks a little different...
I can see that I had a lot of opportunities to take advantage of the solitude back then but I didn’t. I saw my aloneness as something to be avoided, gotten over, worked around, changed. And I can see that thought persisted for the whole of my life. I am not sure why, my journey through life seems to be so solitary as a mission, but it does and I can see that I have never really accepted that, in fact I have fought and railed against that so often, that I find myself now unable to fight it anymore. Ok, God, you win.
What I am just now getting is that I have never really been alone. I have always had God or a Higher Power and I know this because I have always talked to God. This presence I have always felt but never until getting sober believed in. And that kind of togetherness really means more than anytime spent with humans. Most of my human interactions have led me away from God, not closer. It is an ugly truth. One that I can see God and I have been battling over for years. God keeps lining people up and I keep going for it, thinking this time it will be different. And it never is.
This vacation is a good example of this issues being played out in my life. I am in Hawaii at a lovely resort full of couples and families. I am here also with my family but not part of a couple. And for the first few days, all I could see was my uncoupled status and my fractured family. I felt different, alone, left out. But then I started really watching the couples and families...and I saw that their participation in coupledom or family life, is not really a barrier to feeling alone. In fact, some of the most alone times I have ever felt in my life, were when I was married and part of a "functional" family.
I sat next to a young girl at the pool yesterday. Her family active and excited to be there. She appeared depressed, alone and almost angry. She was not fit like her family. She was covered in acne and weight. She was pale and appeared to not enjoy being outside all that much. While her family ran off to the beach, she remained on a lounge chair in the shade, trying to read her way off this island and to some place where it perhaps was not quite as lonely, perhaps a place where she felt like she belonged better.
Now, of course, I have no idea what she really felt. I can only extrapolate from what I observed. I thought about plopping down next to her and asking her about her book. What was it about? Was it good? Did she read all the time? But of course, I was sitting on my own lounge chair, isolated from my family reading also so that was kind of a revelation that I could not avoid. So I turned the inquisition back onto myself and inventoried myself instead of this young stranger sitting next to me.
Mostly I have avoided being alone because my head is so much to deal with when not distracted with others. I have sought out companionship not because I wanted it, but because other people were a reprieve for my own self involved dialogue that is seemingly endless. I can see now that I have always, always had an insatiable, abnormal craving for self approval and success. Insatiable and abnormal. Fuck that landed hard this morning.
What I have sought relief from always was this drive within me to gain self approval and success. I am relentless within myself and as fucked up as this is, I am just now seeing this. Twenty-seven years into recovery and I am just now today, right this very fucking moment, seeing that I have always been trying to escape myself. Not my life circumstances, not really anything other than my own abnormal and insatiable desire for self approval. And I have gone to some pretty low places to seek relief from this place that exists only within my own psyche. I can’t even get to the success part today. That is a topic for another day, today I just can’t even go there.
So all the drinking, smoking, sex, drugs, shopping, eating, not eating, all of it was a distraction, a way out of me. A way for me to escape for as long as I could this unremitting idea that self approval is something I can get and keep. And that others were somehow better qualified to give it to me.
It has always been a trap of my own making, this need to pull others close, then find reasons to push them away. I am nothing without them and then I am become nothing with them. A cycle of self approval seeking, taking hostages along the way. Maybe this is something we all do, I don’t know. I can only see my own life, and my own thoughts and even those are murky a great deal of the time.
What I have realized in the past three days is that the voice of solitude has always been there and I keep getting the lesson of alone to teach me something. But I have been desperately unwilling to learn it. I have told myself fabulous stories about how my alone and solitude is just about to end because Mr. Wonderful is about to show up, or I have told self aggrandizing stories of how all those other poor people are locked into marriages and families that they would rather escape...and I am the lucky free one. What I see now is that all of that, the place that I have spent the whole of my life, is bullshit. All of it. It is none of my fucking business what other people are doing or not. Their marriages or family lives are for them. And my insistence that I should spend any time at all thinking about their inner lives, just another distraction to keep me company while I desperately try to avoid the recurring lesson of myself again and again and again!
What I see today is that the voice of solitude has always been here to teach me one thing...I am the only person that can give self approval. My whole orientation that it exists outside me somewhere with you or him or them, is the great lie I have delusional believed forever. And today, I think I have begun to learn. I think I am beginning to see. That this alone that I feel, this great solitude that has been present the whole of my life, is the solace and the comfort, not the prison I conjured in my mind. This voice of solitude I have avoided, averted and run from, is actually a very comfortable and wonderful place.
Being alone doesn’t make one a loser. Being alone and telling yourself you are a loser, makes you a loser. We do become what we tell ourselves about ourselves repeatedly. It just can’t be any other way. Other people are not a way out of me. They are people who deserve a better role than escape hatch in my life. The most honest thing I can say is that I prefer alone so perhaps it is time I stopped pretending I don’t.
I am not sure where this idea that I was not ok on my own started, wait, fuck, I just got it. I just got the connection! I see it now. I see where I got the idea that being alone and quiet and still was not ok. And I can see the chain of events that caused me to land right here in the present. A place where the voice of solitude comforts me instead of pokes fun at me.
Every time I think I know something, something else happens that makes me see that my previously held beliefs are dead wrong. And all I can do is laugh. I mean, it is funny right? Living each day thinking you know why you are doing what you are doing, and then, repeatedly, having the blinders removed and seeing that all I thought I knew, was wrong.
Solitude is a state of being that all humans must grapple with. And we all use the same methods to either escape it or embrace it. The voice of solitude follows us regardless of whether we are in fact alone, or present with others. And it has been that voice, that fucking voice in my own head that I have tried to tamp down, quiet, shut the fuck up for all these years. Believing that if I surrounded myself with others that their voices could drown it out. But no, that is not possible. What I just got yesterday was that the voice of solitude cares not at all whether I am all alone or surrounded by hundreds...it is capable, in fact, well trained to grab my attention and pull me up short regardless of the venue or how many are in attendance.
But for the first time, I realized yesterday that I am in charge of what the voice tells me. I can allow it to say “LOSER!” Or I can allow it to say something else altogether. It is my voice after all. And if I just say, “ok, I hear you, shhhhhhh...” Perhaps just maybe I can hear God’s voice instead. And with that, perhaps I can find satiation for my incessant drive for self approval and success. I have to give it to myself over and over again...until I am dead. Who the fuck knew?