Sunday, 16 October 2016

Not alone, but going it alone

If the blog is a form of a diary, I am catching the right moment to revisit what I wrote half a year ago. With hindsight I know I have committed my sorrow to the blog shortly before I reached a breaking point and thus left the mark of how I felt then to posterity. Most probably writing that piece was one of many essential steps on my way to recovery.

The vital notion I have explored over these six month is that I prefer to be alone than to spend my time with anyone, especially if that “anyone” is a drag for me or spoils my well-being. A human is not doomed to solitude. To realise why this sentence is not wrong, you need to realise solitude cannot be placed at the very bottom of relationships with people. In the language of maths, solitude can be assigned the value of zero, while relationships with people can have values other than zero; positive or negative. Relationships with people who abuse or harass you can have sub-zero values. Most people out of fear of solitude do not break away from such toxic relationships, while often only freeing oneself from people who impair our lives is the only way to build satisfying (having positive values) relationships with other humans.

If I am to draw any conclusions from the previous post, the paramount one is stunningly straightforward – I am not alone. I am surrounded by several wonderful people, many of which I could call friends (though I tend not to overuse that word), but I have developed a habit of going it alone in most of difficult situations. My choice has been shaped by experience of the past, but also by understanding and accepting how my friendships look is impacted by my age. If nearly all my friends either have families or are in long-lasting relationships, we cannot spend as much time together as I would like to, but I have learnt to appreciate the time we spend together, as each scarce good.

Any relationship is about giving and taking. Theoretically, giving and taking should be balanced. In practice, there should be no striking imbalance between the two. Various circumstances in humans’ lives often predestine one party to be a giver and the other a taker. Sometimes life reverses this arrangement, sometimes not. And on top of that, some people are born givers. I have been repeatedly told I am a type of donor.

The question I have faced recently is whether I do not want to take, do not need to take, or do not know how to ask to be given. Probably, all three answers hold partly true, with the very former being least valid. Being a giver brings me enough joy and satisfaction and I do not require my friends to reciprocate it with the same dose of support since if they reciprocated it, they would kill me with kindness. I am accustomed to cope with most of my troubles on my own, but when I desperately need to take comfort in somebody, I quickly find a guardian angel.

I wonder what qualities and individual should possess to become a confidant to their friends. What makes a man trustworthy?

On one of recent nights I found myself in a hotel room with my good friend (and workmate) after an off-site booze-up. The chap, ten years older than me, husband and father to two children, was pissed out of his head, I was moderately inebriated, since I was bound to sit behind the wheel in a few years to reach my next destination. All of a sudden he broke into tears and confessed he had fallen into love with his team-mate (also married and having children) and was running out of power to cope with it. Just one hour later, during the piss-up, he would tell folks around he had never cheated on his wife and would probably never dare to do so. I was so shell-shocked and the chastised him in foul language typical for our casual conversations. Needless to say the next morning we carried on as if that confession had not been uttered. He probably did not remember it and definitely had he not been tanked-up, as every civilised husband and father would have kept his mouth shut.

I still have not got over that confession and temporarily lack anyone to talk it over with, since I must not pass it on to anyone who knows him. The problem is that my closest friend is now his team-mate, the one he claimed to have lost his head for. Besides, I am amazed by how I have controlled myself and averted the problem he has. She is definitely my kind, yet before I realised it I knew she was married and having children and my conscience prevents me from breaking up a family. Besides, she lives and works in a different city, so we see each other on average once a month which helps keep a safe distance.

Besides, as I have counted, every single week I am asked by someone to have a conversation that stays between us only. Sometimes what I am told becomes a burden, I am not a professional helper and cannot absorb other people’s quandaries like a sponge. Getting it off my chest sometimes involves sharing what I have been entrusted with someone else. This looks at odds with keeping it for myself, therefore I need to talk it over, I do it with a person who has never met a person whose secrets I share. Should I feel guilty about it?

At the end, questions for next half-year period I shall revisit in April 2017.

1. I have noticed with some people I hit it off instantly without any effort on my side, while with others I struggle to make it play, but it does not work anyway – why?

2. How to handle an introvert? I have observed I am afraid of such people and find it hard to take first steps in building a relationship with such persons. I have read introverts are not unsociable, but are kind wary of new friends and it takes a lot to win their trust. How to overcome it?


Anonymous said...

Two important observations from the perspective of a 59 year old:

1) There's loneliness and there's solitude. The former has a value of less than zero. The latter, of more than zero. If you enjoy your own company - as I do, there's no fear of being alone.

2) There's 'needing' a woman (or man), and 'wanting' one. If you ask a woman, that particular woman, in a moment of candour, whether she needs you or wants you - and says the former - walk away.

student SGH said...

@Anon (Basia?)

1) I am still striving to grasp the vague difference between loneliness and solitude and still struggle to make out which one might have bright sides... WIthout enjoying one's own company, you won't be happy, no matter if surrounded by other human or on your own.

2) Brilliant