On Friendship and Solitude

Growing up, making friends was never easy for me. I enjoyed my solitude and doing my own thing in my own way. I found out recently that I’ve always been that way. Even as a baby and toddler I didn’t interact with other children or people and always seemed to be in my own little world.

I made my first friend when I was 7 or 8 years old. The memory I have of that is sitting alone on a low wall during break time, eating my lunch and watching the other kids play. Then Christina came. I didn’t know her, and think it was the first time I saw her. She gave me a sweet, or something like that, and the rest is history. I can’t remember much about our friendship, only that it was short. My family moved and I started at a new school the following year.

It’s still not easy for me to make new friends. I meet someone and we get along. Or so it seems. I automatically think then that we’re friends, only to find out a little while later that that wasn’t the case. I’ve always had the habit of rushing into a friendship (or romantic relationship for that matter) and go all in, only to discover that they had only needed me for something. It’s my own fault though. I would try to be the perfect friend. Always paying for things (even though I couldn’t afford it), giving them compliments and plenty of “feel good” words, and going out of my way for them. But I would get drained, never quite seeming to get anything I needed. Once I slowed down and they discovered they weren’t going to get quite as much as they used to with me, they would disappear.

These days I’m better at setting and maintaining boundaries. Earlier this year, I walked away from a few friends that were only causing me anxiety, anger, and heartache. Since then I’m more careful about who I let into my life, and how much I give to others.

I’ve always tended to make friends with those much older than me. As a child and adolescent I would spend most of my time with my grandmother during the school holidays. Watching something on TV, listening to the radio, baking, watching her knit, etc, while the children were playing outside. Their games didn’t interest me much.

Here’s the thing. I’m more than happy in my own company, doing those things I enjoy. It’s very rare that I actually get bored. I’m a life-long student and enjoy learning about psychology, animals (especially dogs), science and technology. With the internet, TV and library, there’s a never ending amount of study material available. Then there’s of course things like writing, reading, movies, and series. If I don’t get enough time to do all these things I burn out very quickly. So for me balance means 80% of time spent on my own, and only 20% with others.

Solitude is a beautiful thing, so I don’t understand how some people can constantly want to be around others and get bored when they’re alone. But, they probably feel the same way about me. How can I actually enjoy being alone? And that’s the beauty of being human. No two people are perfectly alike. Nor should we be.

Is This Who I Am Now?

Since the post I wrote on meeting up with Elizabeth again earlier this year, I’ve seen her a few more times. We always end up staying together for hours. But I’ve realized something. I don’t have feelings for her at all anymore. The times we meet up, I’ve initiated it. It’s on my terms. We exchange voice notes often, but it sometimes takes me days to reply. Just because I don’t feel the desire to talk to her. Well, it’s not just her… I’ve become terrible at replying to my messages from anyone.

I’ve been going through a challenging period in my life the past couple of weeks and I’m not sure about anything anymore. I had a therapy session today and when my therapist asked what had suddenly made me emotional at some point, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. Because I’m not sure myself. I did mention some stuff, but I couldn’t seem to find all the words for everything that was going through my mind and to verbally express how I was feeling.

One of those things is about Elizabeth. I feel like I’m just using her. I never thought I’d be one of those people. But here I am. And I don’t even feel guilty about it, like I would have in the past. I call her when I get lonely. Not because I want to see her, but because I want to experience that intimacy she provides when we’re together. When we’re sitting having drinks and she has her arm around me, or holds my hand. There are no feelings involved, other than the physical sensations of her soft skin, the warmth of that. Relishing in that. But no emotional feelings. I feel emotionally empty. Especially with regards to her. I don’t trust her either. We discuss how we’re both enjoying being single, but intimacy is missed sometimes. Even though neither one of us wants to be in a relationship at this point in time, I find our moments together satisfying. But once we part ways, I’m glad to be without her again.

The evenings never go further than that. Although she slept over at my place on Sunday evening, it was more a case of convenience. We slept in separate rooms. I have no interest in sexual intimacy with her. Not with anyone. In that, I feel broken. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share those parts of my story.

I feel like I’ll never be able to love anyone again, not in the romantic sense of the word at least. I’m feeling disconnected from life. From myself. From love in general. And I’m not sure how to break through this glass wall. I see those people I care about through it, but I can’t reach them. They, along with my more “human” emotions, are out of reach most of the time these days. That little crack in the glass during my session was quickly mended and now I’m just empty again.

She’s Back…

On Monday after work I met up with my ex, Elizabeth. During one of my “episodes” a little while ago, I impulsively sent her a message. I wasn’t expecting a reply, and wasn’t even sure whether I wanted one. But a couple of days later she sent a reply and I was genuinely shocked when she told me that my message was a wonderful surprise. We sent some messages back and forth for a few weeks. We were supposed to meet up the weekend, but I took a rain check and we met on Monday instead.

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I kept an emotional distance and was prepared to leave as soon as I felt things weren’t going well. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found that I was having a nice time catching up with her. Even more unexpected were the genuine apologies for her behaviour in our relationship, and acknowledgement that a lot of the issues came from her side. She had started therapy some time after we had broken up and been diagnosed with ADHD which made so much sense and put a lot into perspective when looking back.

We ended up spending that whole afternoon together and I only got home just after 11 that evening. We were having such a good time, and the alcohol kept coming (with both of us being on meds, we discussed that this can’t happen again). It felt so comfortable and familiar being with her. We sat intimately close, closer than I’ll allow anyone else to sit next to me when talking. And when we walked to another place for another drink, I was freezing (alcohol has that effect on me, while it makes her hot) and she put her arm around me to help keep me warm. That felt amazing. She told me that she has been wanting to get back into contact with me for so long, but thought I was angry with her and never wanted to see her again. That she had missed me so often, and how glad she was that we can be friends now.

I discovered that my feelings for her haven’t changed all that much, but I also have my guard up. My therapist told me to keep my boundaries in mind whenever I’m with her. Only thing is, I’m not so sure what my boundaries for her are, or should be. She invited me to two events this weekend, but I’ve got a nasty cold and need to rest and recuperate. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m also using that as an excuse to keep some distance from her so I don’t get swept up, and giving myself time to figure out exactly how I feel about all of this. All I know right now is that I was happier during the time I spent with her on Monday than I have been in months. I realized this after she told me the same thing. Right now I’m a little confused, but I guess that’s normal.

Maybe we can be friends after all. Do I want more? I don’t have to know the answer or make any decisions right now.

The best thing I feel I can do in this situation is take things slow and at my own pace, and see what happens.

“Hold On”?

I don’t believe that suicide is selfish. It may not be entirely rational. But selfish, no. I understand why people do it. Those who have left me behind… I’m not mad at them. They were in pain, they felt like they were a burden to the world, that everyone would be better off without them. I get that. They weren’t a burden, at least not in my life, but I never got to tell them that.

We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We don’t know when someone we love will leave this world, either through their own hands, those of others, or “natural” causes.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to someone sooner than we thought. Sometimes there’s no warning. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. But that’s the reality of being alive.