I'm very easily manipulated by movies and TV. If I watch an action movie in the theaters, you can bet on the way home I'll feel all "vroom"-y and drive fast in the left lane. In my younger years it manifested in feeling intense sadness when the characters on the screen did, so much so that some scenes of movies became notorious for me having to leave the room because I would burst out bawling when the lead character(s) did.
This week, while sick, I decided to start watching Mr Robot. The first episode is heavily laden with the main character feeling disconnected from society and, very strongly: lonely. Of course that brought up feelings of loneliness for me, but it was much more than just feeling on behalf of the Elliot character. It stirred up true emotions of loneliness for me; something very deep and profound.
It's time to call into question this feeling of loneliness. During therapy today, I tried to express it by saying that I felt "abnormal" which was ruled -in DBT terms- "unjustified". But the loneliness itself was/is justified. Why? Because I'm not "getting out there"; I don't feel genuine connection. But is that all? Every time I try to take a step toward "putting myself out there" whether it be a meetup or a regular hang time with friends, it feels as though little progress has been made, and when (for whatever reason, be it Mr Robot or otherwise) I have that feeling of existential loneliness, it feels as though it is no progress. Why is that?
Well, I showed my hand by using the word "existential"; it's much more than not having people around, or even not having friendships. It's not having anyone that sees the real me. Now granted, I don't even know who that "real me" is; I've alluded to it, and during treatment I found and chased the notion of the True Self but I felt as though I was only scratching the surface. Not only are there pools of good inside me buried beneath the garbage, there must also be something that makes me feel as though there's something people don't see. And that makes me abnormal. (And that's where the circular reasoning comes in: I feel loneliness because I feel abnormal, and I feel abnormal because I feel lonely.)
We all squeeze ourselves into different shapes. Like a liquid, we fill the social container of whatever is present. It's natural and there's nothing really wrong with it inherantly; it's part of being social. In the same way that I act differently around one group of friends from another group of friends, or acting entirely differently at work. Being social is fluid, and it's even more evident when one is put into a situation they've never been in before, say, a conference where the other attendees are a bunch of corporate executives. That kind of social engagement is an entirely different dance than anything else. But of course, exposure makes one more comfortable (or at least less uncomfortable) in that type of social situation. We squeeze.
And yes, I believe it to be part of the human condition: that we all feel this odd sense of loneliness, but if the theory is that my life is unwell in a way that others' are not, then there must be something different about my loneliness.
In the past I have talked about just how much I have to dress myself up to appear "normal" and, shockingly enough, in the rearview I can see how, almost in a linear fashion, it's become less and less effort made to fit that mold. And also less and less obsession about the mold itself. But it's still there. I may be going to 4 Meetups now and that's great to get out of the house and interact, but I still feel the need to mold myself before going out. I go out with friends weekly to play games and have a good time, and even then I feel myself folding into formations that fit the mood. Whether it be religious beliefs, family ties, or any other reason, there are self-imposed limits that dictate how I should interact. And again, it's not necessarily bad. There are people who completely disregard these limits in all situations and we have a word for those people: assholes.
I guess my question at this point is: what happens when I don't squeeze? What form do I take when there are no social pressures forming me? And even moreso, am I accepted as that form? These are the answers I believe I'm chasing after. It's one of the reasons I feel that an intimate (romantic) relationship can be so freeing because the limits are so much fewer. Nakedness is so much more than skin deep. Emotions, thoughts, feelings, ambitions, dreams: these are all things that we hold so close to us that when exposed, we feel naked. Vulnerable, to use one of my favorite words.
Now's probably when you're expecting the climax: when I reveal the vulnerabilities. Well, that's not how it happens, friend. That's the thing about being vulnerable: you can only be so much of it on the frikkin internet, especially a public forum.
I used to wonder why it was that I could go out, be around friends, have a good time, and yet still feel lonely later that night. If the solution to loneliness is exposure, why did the exposure not prevent it? Because, I think, there are levels of exposure. The level of friendly interaction is met, but the deeper level of nakedness is not. I realized this very prominently when I read the sentence "My tongue may wither from disuse here, but at least I shan't lose words entirely while I still can write to you" from Ella Enchanted. A strange source for wisdom, perhaps, but it rang true in that I have had a friend with whom I correspond very regularly, and as of late, it has been almost absent. I feel as though while I'm surrounded my people, my tongue does me no good; and now I have lost the ability to write as well. The lack of words, it reeks of loneliness. What I'm trying to say is, this person, they were so central to how I felt _un-_alone and I never realized the extent of it; how having someone who is always there to talk, about anything, can be so damn freeing. It feels like an outlet for everything: the mundaintenties of day-to-day life, the depths of depression, the cliffs of anxiety, every thought, unfiltered. That part of me was experiencing exposure, though to a limited degree. And I was content with it, and maybe I even felt that it was enough. But no longer, I realize.
Part of me is sad because this person is slowly leaving my life, but a newer part of me realizes that words with them is not enough; I need to speak and to be heard. For so long I've gotten by on what I thought was the best I could get, never dreaming that perhaps, yes, I can access this exposure elsewhere. Where? I'm not quite sure.
I'm searching for an outlet I have not found. I suppose acceptance is the ultimate goal: to show someone the things that even I don't want to see about myself and have them not run away (which, I might add, has literally happened to me before). And while I could try to pen them here, somehow I don't feel this one-way connection of a blog post -benefitial as it might be- is the right medium. There's no return. I need a mirroring in the same way that when I need a hug, I need the other person to want to give me a hug, and not just the arms and torso. It need to be witnessed, but I need to know that I'm being witnessed.
I've gotten so much better about being able to ask for help when I need it for things that trouble me during the day, but now I suppose it's time to turn to the things that keep me up at night. Emotions, feelings, challenges, dreams, and heartbreaks that sound crazy or don't even have words yet. I'm so terrified of sounding crazy though honestly, insanity sounds like a welcome vacation from reality. Regardless, while I am still sane, I search for a way to not feel lonely; a way to be witnessed for what I am in the darkest of nights.
I'm searching for an outlet I have not found. Yet.