I clearly recall a boy and a girl, a young couple, in the prime of their youth holding hands. I could see the unspoken poetry passing between them. They somehow sang out of young love…and they truly glowed. It was an achingly beautiful site…and the saddest thing I had ever seen.
I realized then, I was crying. What was worse, I was not crying joyful tears for them. I was crying tears of despair for me. As a child who had spent so much time alone, I had convinced myself that I might be alone…but I was not lonely. I convinced myself that I liked being alone, that alone was my friend.
Seeing those two young lovers who were very clearly NOT alone yielded an epiphany. I was a traitor to myself. Alone had not been my friend, it had been an enemy occupier. It had been forced upon me… it had invaded me. Being a child and lacking the weapons to fight back, I had simply ran up the white flag. I had capitulated to it. I had joined the enemy force.
As it turned out, I was lonely! I was achingly so, and I had always been so, for as long as I could remember. I wondered if I would ever know what it felt to be anything else. I grieved the knowledge that even if the opportunity arose to connect to another soul, I did not know how. I simply did not know how to not be alone.
I began to flip through the index of all my past and present relationships, all the failures and disappointments. All the individual incidents that I had used as proof to support my world view that alone was the preferred state of being. In the revealing glow of that sweet young couple’s love, I saw the truth. I had committed treason against myself. I was a saboteur. I had planted each and every bomb that had ruptured all my relationships… and I had done it so covertly that it was a secret even to me.
I had so feared breaking free of the prison of loneliness only to be inevitably sent back, that I had thwarted my own escape. Alone was my life story, and I had learned to be comfortable in that misery. I was not just a traitor to myself, I was a coward too. A coward who was too afraid to take the risk. Staying immersed in that darkness was much preferred to living in that gloom with the memory of what it was like to feel the sun’s kiss on my skin.