When I consider my early teen years I feel I had a morbid fascination with loneliness. Possibly because it was a fleeting emotion with all my siblings and relatives. I can’t being to count the amount of times I was asked ‘What’s wrong’ – if I wasn’t chattering. I was always told I talked too much. I pondered often over loneliness. And sometimes I felt it – even in a crowd. I won a poetry contest and my topic was loneliness. I feel it often had something to do with my rocky relationships with boys.
Growing up – I was definitely a tom-boy. I could do whatever a boy did and my dad again urged me on. I could climb, run, play sports or ride a horse as well and even better than boys. I didn’t cry when I was hurt. I had no idea what to do when I reached puberty. Things were changing. To play sports often hurt more than I cared for. To wrestle and beat a boy was no longer a challenge or enjoyable. I could cry now – whether I was angry, hurt or frustrated. Sometimes it was difficult to accept or realize the change. There was and still is a lot of talk about equality. I agree in equality – but I also see a different between men and women. I don’t think there is any way we can change that. Yet some keep trying. I have learned we can be equal – but we will never be the same.
I lost my father as a teenager. That created a genuine feeling of loneliness. I did come to realize the difference between loneliness and being alone. Sometimes ‘feeling loneliness’ could be manufactured. I discovered a bottle of wine and feeling sorry for myself because I was so far away from my family worked well. Eventually as I got a little older I wondered why or what I was doing. I didn’t want to feel loneliness all the time. So, I entered life again. I learned how to balance – as much as anyone can control their life – this odd phenomena. No one can ever go through life I think without feeling either and both. We are alone sometimes and sometimes we feel loneliness when we aren’t alone. I have never heard anyone say otherwise.
When I was alone -as I chose to marry a long-haul truck driver – I learned not to be lonely. I learned the value of journals, researching and plotting stories. I didn’t feel loneliness. I also learned the value of friends, relatives and socializing. I mainly learned the value of being able to adjust to either scenario. For me it was a great lesson in balancing my life.
Perhaps I analyse too much. I have heard it said I do. But I think if someone analyzes something, then applies it to themselves it goes a long way towards understanding.
Words, especially in the English language, are very elusive. There is a difference in loneliness and being alone. As a writer we must learn to balance our time and actions. We need to be alone to write properly. We do not learn the necessary experience required in writing – by being alone. It is a contradiction.
There are different opinions on the alone concept. I think we have all met people who require and demand the attention of others. The most stated belief is the person needs to learn to love themselves, appreciate their own company and they suffer low self-esteem. On the other hand we have those people who dislike social interaction and want only to be alone. Does this mean that person loves themselves? No – again, in most opinions, it means they have no self-confidence. Let’s consider – if you can’t be alone – you lack self-confidence. If you want to be alone – you lack self-confidence. I have neither problem and I find this confusing. I try to imagine what might be going through my mind if I did.
So – is only those who can juggle the social and alone times properly (confusing in itself – what is the proper times allotted?) are the only people with the required amount of self-esteem?
When I was young, unconsciously I studied people – I think. My dad was my perfect example of being alone in a crowd. After supper – mom would go out to milk the cows. Usually she took the older siblings (there were eight of us) with her to help. That left my dad inside to ‘watch’ the younger ones. Immediately after my mother left – my dad would start reading a book and could actually ignore us completely. We were nowhere near stores and had no candy or pop in the house. So being innovative children – we climbed onto the cupboards, seeking those delicious baking products – chocolate chips and walnuts were a favorite we enjoyed many nights. We had no fear of my dad seeing us. He would focus completely on his book. To this day I admire that quality. My father was able to block everything out in a crowd.
On the other hand – we could be outside helping with the farm work and my dad could be a very good, focused teacher as well. He could advise and often let us do things we thought we could without yelling or showing fear. Sometimes it wasn’t necessarily harmless. You might want to herd the bull into the barn and dad might let me after I insisted – but I learned consequences. And I never felt fear – because my dad was there to protect me. Odd – that which I admire would be looked upon in absolute horror in today’s parenting skills.
I learned so much from my father about being alone. Next, I would have to learn loneliness. Then I would learn to balance the two (coming in Part II of this entry).