Sunday, April 16, 2006

belonging, revisited

A reader named Rufus posed an interesting question in a comment recently that's had me thinking. The question: are you afraid to be alone? The answer is simple: absolutely. I am absolutely afraid to be alone.

Another interesting question was posed by Waspy in an email: do you know who you are? I thought she was joking and wouldn't answer what I considered a weird and simple question. But then I started thinking about it and realized it wasn't so simple after all.

So. Two good questions. Am I afraid to be alone and do I know who I am? I put them together and ask myself: "Who is this Me who is afraid to be alone?" A few months ago, I wrote this whole long rant on the subject of belonging. How I've never belonged and don't want to belong because belonging would feel smothering. Ok. That's complete bullshit. I had to write that rant to realize that it was wrong, so it wasn't a complete waste. But it's simply not true.

The Me who is afraid to be alone is the Me who spent some formative years alone. After my stepdad divorced my mom when I was 12, mom moved us to a crappy trailer in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town. We went from living in a neighborhood with my friends, within biking distance to more neighborhoods with more friends, etc, to living in the country down a long road with nothing around us but far away neighbors who were old and didn't have kids, within biking distance of nothing.

Add to that: mom was never home. She worked full time and went back to school. She drove us to school and drove us home and that was the most we saw of her every day. Eventually we moved to an apartment in town, but we still saw little of mom and I felt a scary affinity to the kids in the book Flowers in the Attic. As time passed, we saw less of mom until finally she started sleeping at her boyfriend's house and then we saw her once a day. She'd come by for a few minutes, pick up some clothes, drop off some clothes, etc. Bring groceries. Bitch at me for not cleaning the house. Meanwhile, I was practically catatonic with depression. Pretty picture. I got older, I came and went and left notes that wouldn't be read by people who didn't care explaining where I'd be and when I'd be back. I did not want to be alone. And I was.

Fast forward, I go to college, I get a girlfriend, I think all my problems are solved because I live in the dorm where I am never, ever alone and, of course, that newfound joy only lasts 8 months. Meanwhile, it's that foundation of depression and aloneness which continues to infect every aspect of my life -- less a foundation and more a bottomless pit that is only ever just barely covered with twigs and grass, like a boobie trap which catches me over and over again.

But, of course, I'm a scorpio with a tremendous loner streak. So this pull towards relationship is always somewhat at odds with the equal pull into my own interior spaces. Like a pendulum, I swing back and forth between coupledness and uncoupledness. I have never found a balance.

I want a family. I believe humans aren't meant to be alone. But what's a family? I don't want kids. I don't want to go live in Georgia with my own family who are all fundamentalist Christians with a completely oppressive worldview I can hardly tolerate. I want a partner who supports my desire for companionship and whose love is large enough to hold my need for occasional solitude. I want friends who love me like blood relatives, soul friends, friends I carry with me through all of life. I want a community I can contribute to, that contributes back to me.

I want to share my home.

I notice I'm always preparing things for other people in my life who don't exist. When I bought my car, for instance, it was very importat to me that I have a four-door sedan with a comfortable backseat so that I could transport people. What people?? In the 9 years I've owned my car, I've driven a backseat full of people perhaps twice. When I moved into my new apartment, I made sure to buy extra towels for guests. Besides SK, what guests? I keep my bathroom clean for those guests and I lament the fact that, so far, no one (besides SK) has even used my bathroom.

I don't want to be alone. That's true. The Me who doesn't want to be alone is the Me who really does want to belong somewhere. The one who considers the needs of others. The one who is responsible and ready to engage. The one who wants a family of some kind. The one with a clean bathroom, extra towels, a four door car, etc, etc.

Of course, there's another Me who opposes all that, who rebels against it, who is afraid to be responsible, afraid to host, afraid to be a grown-up, essentially. But I'm hearing less and less of her as the years go by.


Blogger Rufus said...

Thanks. I'll come use your bathroom, if that makes you feel any better :)

3:24 PM  

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