The rain poured on my head as I exited the M Building on the Campus of College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The rain had been pouring a moderate volume for some time now, so the fallen autumn leaves were now soggy, wet and yielded under my feet.
I looked to my right as I left the building and I saw a couple. I had seen them as I was walking out of the building and, by the way they were talking and interacting, I thought they were just friends. But as I saw them clasp their hands together as they left the building, I knew they were in a relationship.
I walked left, towards the oddly lit, slightly spooky, pathway that led to the parking lot, which was overfilled with cars, similarly to how the gutter was overfilling with water. They walked right, towards a more secluded area near some trees. I guessed they were going to talk or neck somewhere. I don’t know, as I didn’t follow them.
But it got me to thinking as I started my dingy, sad trek to the parking lot: I am alone. Not in a depressing, dark way, but in a philosophical way. I am alone, without someone to walk with on a cold, dark, wet autumn night in Chicago. I am alone in the sense that I have no one who loves me in the way that young couple loved each other. I have many friends and family who, if they are not just leading me on, love me more than I know.
My fear set in as I watched the happy couple pass by. My fear of being alone. You all have to admit, it’s not so irrational a fear, am I right? We all have some deep-set fear of ending up in a hospital bed alone at 75-years-old and without a soul in the world to secretly confide out last memoirs to. We all fear that we will never find true love.
I thought I had found true love a few weeks ago when I started to date this girl, named Dawn. We had met through a friend of a friend of a friend (dear lord, I’m starting to sound like Sondheim…) and as we talked, we were astonished at how well we connected. We decided to date. It would be a long-distance relationship, since she lived in Louisiana.
The first few days were bliss. But, as time progressed, I noticed something was off about out communication. The more I wanted to talk to her, the less she wanted to talk to me. I tried and tried and tried to get her to open up, but eventually, like a tender violet, she shrank back further and further and further until she decided to break up with me, a week later. She cited that she had some issues to work through. Deep down, I know It was because I was too needy for her. I see that clearly now, though I did not see it then.
So there I was: my relationship had ended because of my fear of being alone. I seemed desperate to clutch at her every word and she saw that and ran. Ran far and ran long, away from the grasp. Back to the willows of Louisiana, my dreams of our novel-like romance mere putty in her hands. I wept, openly and freely, like a child crying over a friend calling them a nasty name.
I sit here and type this now knowing that my fear of being alone has defined me in some ways. I pushed Dawn away because of my intense physiological need to be with someone perfect, and I scared her.
My fear of being alone brought me into a relationship which ended with my fear of being alone ending the relationship which brought me back to being alone.
Take a moment to analyze the weight of that sentence. It’s like a cycle from hell repeating and repeating and repeating.
I look back on those few days now and it’s all a blur. A blur of intense happiness and bone-chilling sadness. But I hid it well. Only my true friends knew the true fire that raged inside me, burning my very intestines: the sadness of being alone. The sadness of sitting in your room at the ended of the day and openly weeping into your pillow.
A quick story about being alone and crying into your pillow: I was with an acting troupe this summer and we had to perform at our theater for the last time, as it was being sold off and demolished. I didn’t cry. A few weeks after that, school had already started, I went with them to our director’s cabin downstate for the weekend. We had such a wonderful time, reminiscing and having the best time a group of people could. I got home the Sunday afterwards with a smile on my face. I sat down in my bed, sighed, and started to bawl my eyes out. I couldn’t cope with the intense changed anymore: The summer ending, the theater closing, my acting troupe friends scattering to the far sides of the US. I cried intense, bitter tears and I felt like an idiot for doing so. It seemed so irrational now, but I see looking back that I was afraid of the change. Afraid of being alone and ending up alone, in other words.
I see now that being alone isn’t a mortal blow to one’s life; you truly can be very happy alone. You can be happy with someone, you can be happy without. I can’t let my fear of being alone drive away what little chance I do have of finding someone who I love and who loves me back.
I can be happy sitting in my room reading a Patrick Dennis novel or playing Kingdom Hearts in utter peace. I can sit there and not have my phone buzzing and buzzing and driving me BATS. I can sit in my office at school, unattended by anyone, and take a deep breath and recoup from a tough Music Theory Test. I don’t need someone’s hand to guide me through life.
My new mantra is: Live your life, alone and happy, until life decides you shouldn’t be alone anymore.
I can now go on with my life and live happily, freely and wonderfully.
I am not alone.
I truly will never be alone, if life is there holding my hand for the journey.
Filed under: Life and Relationships
Tags: advice, alone, auntie mame, being alone, college of dupage, dawn, disney, fear, fear of being alone, fears, guru, kingdom hearts, live your life, love, mame, mantra, motto, music major, music theory, not fear, oprah, oprah winfrey, patrick dennis, relationship, relationship advice, relationships, self-help