Before diving in to this one I must state that the post title means me and only me. I’m well aware that many people struggle with loneliness and it can manifest as much in a crowd of people as it can in being alone. They have my sympathies for something that can be very debilitating.
The backdrop to this piece is that I occasionally get people from all the facets of my life who assume that because I am solitary and because I spend a lot of time alone, then I must be lonely. It’s a 2 + 2 = 5 thing.
This is not a tale of ‘woe is me’. It’s something I recognised and learned to embrace from the young age I accepted it as a foundational component. However, this piece is very introspective, personal and indulgent.
I became solitary shortly after my eighth birthday when we moved 200+ miles north. Uprooted from a middle class estate where all the kids ran together and got fed at whatever house they were near when it was lunch or tea time. The new location was radically different, a small cluster of new build houses in a secluded spot, no other children nearby.
The new school was a nightmare, it was the first time that I found out that one can be reviled and targeted for being different. The difference was trivial, but children can be ruthless, they didn’t like my poncey southern accent. Such relocations were quite rare in the 70s, I might as well have been a green bug-eyed monster from Mars.[As an aside here, a number of people in the D/s world that I’ve talked to have similar tales of childhood isolation and alienation. It makes me wonder if what we seek in D/s is the emotional intensity as compensation for those childhood experiences of squashing it.]
Eventually one reaches an accommodation in those circumstances but the die was cast. There was little opportunity for out of school socialising given the isolation of home from everywhere else. In other words, I also came to my own personal accommodation of being alone and learned to embrace it.
Taking great pleasure in getting lost in reading, experiencing adventures and exploring over lost horizons. At least one bicycle trip per week to the local library for another four or five books.
By the time I entered my teen years I knew that being solitary and alone had nothing to do with feeling lonely. I never felt lonely. Perhaps wistful in remembrance of belonging to that pack of kids in the old location and never replacing that. Instead, I had a whole literary fed imagination to explore that was limitless.
As I moved through school I learned how to appear to fit in. I became a social chameleon. There wasn’t a group I couldn’t be a peripheral member of. I could talk to and be accepted by the ‘bad lads’ just as much as I could with the top set. Accepted to the extent I had learned to talk the very different languages of each group. Some of these groups had so little in common that they never communicated, I could be a bridge, an observer, a mediator with no skin in the game.
But the die had long since set that there was no out of school fraternisation with any of them, except those that were in the same scout group.
I know this all sounds terribly tragic. The reality is that I enjoyed what I’d become. Able to be part of something without belonging. At some point, that lack of fully belonging becomes exclusion but it never bothered me.
And with that locked in by the teenage years it’s governed much of my social interaction ever since. I’m a very solitary person who’s very happy in their own company.
The one really bad aspect of all of this that I recognised in my 20’s but could never shake off was that in dealing with that initial hurt I created a very hard shell. One that locked emotions inside, never displayed them to the outside and consequently found it impossible to let anyone inside that shell in case I got hurt.
Undoubtedly this is why I remained single. My idea of love and companionship was so idealised according to that hard shell that I knew it was unobtainable, so I never tried that hard. In light of knowledge from decades later I’d add that I must have silently acknowledged being asexual as part of not trying too hard. (One to stress the noggin, did the hard shell create asexual leanings or were they there before the shell ?)[ETA: I know that I had childhood thoughts that I now recognise as being transgendered that long preceded this upheaval. So it’s likely that asexuality was already there by this time, too.]
Age and a determination to explore D/s for the last 25+ years has whittled away at the hard shell. Perhaps the most important factor with the D/s has been to set myself the challenge to be open without reservation to a select few, very wonderful people. Acknowledging that to grow I have to accept the possibility of being hurt to the core and dealing with it. And yes, that’s happened and I’m still here with the current D/s experience being the most raw and potentially vulnerable one ever – so I’ve done some growing over the years. There’s another key point, the danger of letting someone in so close and deep is of feeling lonely when they’re no longer there. Of course I’ve had incipient loneliness in those times. But the little child that built the hard shell reasserts itself and it goes away. What’s changed is that I’m prepared these days to open up that shell again for the next special person.
I’m still the social chameleon who abhors crowds and noise. It’s been a very handy attribute in my working life. I can mix with the CxO types and the caretakers and cleaners. And if you really want to know what’s going on in an organisation it’s the cleaners and security guards who know !!
There’s the old adage from pre-Internet that I find even more valid in these days of people with hundreds of online ‘friends’ that they’ve never met. It goes that if by the end of your life you can count your true friends on your fingers then you’ve been very lucky in life. I don’t run out of fingers but I do have those I’d call true friends, no judgements on faults in either direction and prepared to be there through thick and thin.
That makes me feel very privileged to have reached that point.
I’m too set in my solitary ways to change too much, even with melody making her own new rules. What I am though, is more happy then ever in my solitude and less likely than ever to consider being lonely.