The other day I was driving a coworker to get something to eat after he had spent the night out partying and I realized something about who I am as a person and what built me. He came back around 1:30 in the morning, right as I had finished talking to someone special on Skype, and his first question was, “Dude, are you hungry?”. I replied, “yes”. Normally, I tend to write off my late night hunger as boredom, but that night, my stomach was not telling me my hunger was out of boredom, but, instead, out of sheer hunger. So, there I was in my car very late that night driving on an empty road with him in the passenger seat. He lowered his window and was about to throw a piece of garbage out of my window. I stopped him, and said to simply throw it on the floor of my car because I would pick it up before some random person would if he were to litter it on the ground. He admitted that he normally did not litter, and that he did not know why he was about to do that.
We then started to talk about a mutual friend and about a story he had heard as to why the friend may have been acting strangely lately. I simply replied that something I carry with me is that every person has a story and that we can never know the weight which they carry with them as a result of living through that story. He looked at me someone blankly, and said that he thought I had an interesting take on things. This, in a matter of a split second, made me concede that, for a long time in my life, I had felt utterly alone and depressed. It is something I hold close to me, that I felt those things at one point in my life, but for some reason, maybe because it was late or because he was intoxicated, I admitted this to him fairly easily. He, again, looked at me as if I had revealed something he could never had guessed or thought of. More or less, that look was spot on. He said that he could never have guessed and that he could not believe that I, a person who makes it a point to be simply at bay with everything going on in life, had a dark stain on my life.
See, I had no reason to feel lonely or depressed. I amassed things in my head and never released them. I held on to feelings and thoughts and plans for what could be and refused to live in that given moment. Yet, when I think about the topic in a deeper sense, does anyone who is depressed really have a reason that will ever be understood? In some cases, yes, but in most cases, that sense of having your mind consumed with senseless doubt is brought about by something no one, but the one suffering through it, could ever understand. Even now, I look back at my middle school and teenage self and have a hard time understanding why I felt that way. I cannot fathom why I did not just feel OK, and why I often cried and hoped for more. A moment that will always stand as a pillar in my life is the moment I found myself standing in my garage at night wondering if I was here for a reason; if “God” had placed me here for a purpose. That moment would come to define me for a long while. In fact, if someone had diagnosed me with clinical depression those many years ago, I would have been relieved to know that this pain had a face and a name and that it wasn’t simply just my own head playing games with me. Every day I sought out “why” and let it consume my mind and my thoughts. I never felt wanted and never felt reason. Every day seemed like a constant damper and struggle. There is a scene in a movie called “A Single Man” where a man wakes up after having yet another reoccurring nightmare about the death of his partner and lover. He has an internal monologue about the pains of waking up when you feel like there is simply nothing to live on for, where “waking up actually hurt”.
Waking up, I never accounted for a loss of a life or a loss of something substantial to me. I awoke to a loss of things I never had. I still cannot explain it, but I simply felt alone. I felt empty. So, when I told my friend this story about my dark spot and he replied that he could never have guessed, I felt the need to tell him the whole story. I had this story that I carried with me that no one ever saw, and for good reason. The thing is that this sense of loneliness never disappeared until fairly recently. It took an immense amount of pain before it settled in as a piece of me. I often take walks and feel the depression and loneliness come back in doses, and it frightens me because I still cannot place my finger on it. My friend told me that he felt bad for me because no one should have to go through that alone, but what is loneliness if we do not go through it alone? This sense of being alone made me who I am. It made me into a person who has a substantial amount of foundation; a person whose feet are always on the ground, but head always in the clouds. That time spent alone never leaves, we simply mask it.
Why I find myself writing this is because of an article I was lucky enough to stumble on to one night when I really needed to be reminded that my sense of being alone is never truly there, and that it is something I build up in my head. At the same time, however, I also needed a reminded that what I was feeling was normal because everyone is alone:
“But then your sister comes to visit, or your boyfriend, or some pal from high school. And you remember what it’s like to not just know people but understand them, to know their habits and their preferences, to recognize their shirts, to touch them without thinking about it. You remember how good it feels not being alone, and you try to soak up every moment and absorb enough energy to last the long winter. Often it’s awkward because you have nothing in common but memories and mutual affection, so you spend a lot of time staring at each other and wishing you could think of something more interesting to do, some way to better appreciate your visitors, to better make use of your time. You don’t want to waste this. But maybe you do.
And then they leave, and you break again, and your “good” drops to “fine” and then to “okay, I guess.” But soon enough you trick yourself into forgetting how it feels to see love in someone’s eyes, and you adjust back to solitude.”
I measured my happiness on a sense of being surrounded, or being content. That is the closest I can ever come to trying to understand why I felt such a sense of seclusion; why I always felt in the dark and that the sun could never, or would never, shine on me.
The next day, I found this:
“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.”
And I was soon reminded of why those demons of my past have been relegated to the past; I came to love myself and love those who love me. I came to love the people who have helped me on my feet, and who have helped me to progress.
And not a moment goes by where I think I will be alone ever again.
“There are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse