Yes, loneliness. I can’t say that it’s the FULL answer to the question that arose in my last post (i.e., “What the fuck is wrong with me?”). But it’s a big part of it.
You see, I can’t remember the last time I felt lonely. Traditionally, anytime that emotion showed the slightest sign of its desire to accompany me on my journey, I would suppress it. And when it protested my feeble attempts, I would find some way of distracting myself from it – perhaps by diving into work, or maybe visiting a good friend for the weekend in someplace not-like-home. And when its voice barked even beyond these attempts, I went to my last (but perhaps favorite) resort: pornography. I drowned myself in it. Afterall, if you can’t have real intimacy (i.e., “it’s a sin to be gay”), simply lose yourself in fake intimacy.
And why? Why not just feel lonely, even for a single night? Quite simply because of fear. I have long felt that if loneliness had its way with me, it would destroy me. A good friend emailed me today expressing a similar ethos regarding her own struggle with undesired emotions. She asked me how I tend to articulate it beyond the simple “I feel like it’s going to destroy me.” Here is another situation where I feel words simply fail me. They just aren’t enough to describe how contrary – how utterly averse – I feel towards allowing myself to feel lonely. Nor do they even begin to explain why I feel that way. As loneliness grows inside my soul, it’s as if it crushes me, and squeezes every ounce of breath out of my chest. So I resist it, and its grip on me tightens . . .until a suitable enough “intimacy” comes along to loosen its death grip.
But the cycle always continues. And having my boy away for 6 weeks? Well, it’s almost too much to bear.
My counselor (I’m sure you all remember Lance!) has been trying to convince me for YEARS to simply let the feeling of loneliness wash over me . . . to let it have its way with me, and see what happens. I have failed at every attempt thus far, for my fear of loneliness, and my fear of the unknown (i.e., not knowing what reality would look like if I let loneliness have its way with me) significantly outweighed my fear of remaining in that self-defeating spiral of resistance.
But last Tuesday night was different. After spending most of the day projecting outward, trying to find a reason for the wounding I felt, I promised myself before the evening was over, to investigate this theory that maybe I was simply lonely.
After working out, getting a shower, and having a few minutes of quintessential “Darren time,” it didn’t take long for the emotions to rise to the surface. It wanted to overtake me. I let it. And I felt . . . horrible. Awful. At the lowest of low. And the worst part? I couldn’t feel God, hear God, or comprehend why He would leave me be at such an inopportune time.
As I sat there sobbing and mourning for what seemed like a decade (it was – in actuality – more like about 10 minutes, I suppose), the thought began to dawn on me: “I’m not dead”. This feeling had not destroyed me yet, and it somehow seemed as if this was the best it had to offer. And then I also realized . . . it wasn’t going to be this way forever. It could only last so long. I’d be seeing my special guy soon. And I had friends and other things to invest in meanwhile. Another 5 minutes or so of crying, and I felt the benefit of the cathartic act. I felt immensely better. It was as if a 2 ton weight had been lifted from me. Since then, I’ve felt more like “me” than I have in ages. Years, perhaps.
I wish I could say I was “healed” or something now. But I’m not. I struggle with this loneliness . . . but in a different way this week than every other week of my life. Now, I don’t feel like I’m afraid of it. And this appears to have loosened its powerful stronghold over my life. I have loads of other baggage to sort through here: self-esteem issues, dependence on unhealthy coping mechanisms, a willingness to lose myself in another, etc. Yet, I have a better grasp on this thing called Hope. And that makes all the difference in the world.