Over the Christmas of 2012 I had just moved to a new city, I knew no one and my office was closed for the holiday. I had 11 days off alone. I was filled with a deep feeling of loneliness. Although I knew it would pass and I was pro-actively engaging in making new friends the feeling persisted. So I wrote down the following thoughts to analyse my feelings and why:
This 11 days off spent mainly alone with no one has forced me to contemplate what loneliness means to me. Why do I need to spend time with other people? Why can being alone depress me? I feel the need to share my experiences with others (and even more importantly I want to share their experience), it is almost like the experience is wasted if not shared with another.
However, this is only the case if the experience is shared with a person who is in my life permanently. Not just some temporary relationship. This is why I currently feel unfulfilled in this aspect of life and have made finding a partner so critically important. Only a partner can fulfil this role, a person who will always be there to share experiences with. Of course children will also be there to share experiences with eventually but one comes after the other.
Now I ask myself, what role do friends play in this? Well a temporary friend is not fulfilling at all in this sense because they will go and the importance we place on each other and the experiences you shared will dissipate. A good and close friend, this can be fulfilling and it can last, because this friend will always be your friend even with long periods of scarce communication, you will always have that link and maintain those shared experiences. However, this is still not as fulfilling as a permanent partnership in which all aspects of life are shared. There is one important aspect to friendship here that should not be overlooked, it is the access to new ideas and perspectives on reality, and for this it is still important to have friends and meet new people, as long as you actually talk about these things.
This has got me thinking even more about who currently counts in this way to me? Well the answer is simple, the people I have shared the most experiences with so far are my Family, and through them I am linked to my childhood, especially through my mother, sister. Although they do not fully understand me and are probably not capable of this, the fact remains. Others from my past, good friendships but not with complete mutual understanding also link me to other experiences, such as school and work life. These memories we share bind us, and to some extent we lose these memories if we lose the people. And what is your life to date but a series of memories? If you lose memories you are losing a part of yourself, a part of your life! This is why people take pictures and write Journals and write books and talk about old times. They are clutching onto their lives, because to lose a memory is to die in a small way.
The next question is; should I think like this? Is it healthy? Shouldn’t I be satisfied with just myself? I think that obviously I would be better off not caring, and could in some ways stop thinking like this now that I realise that I do think like this. But I am not sure that I can because I think it is a hard wired aspect of my mind and not only that, it is to some extent a hard wired aspect of everyone’s minds. It is something that many people do not ever get completely fulfilled in (either not at all or partially). It is only possible for me in a partnership with complete mutual understanding and the ability to talk through everything and reach agreement through logic.
Our capacity for close relationships is limited by our brains, it simply takes too much mental effort, memory and time to have close relationships with people that our brains can only handle so many before the quality tends to diminish. I do believe that the research states this number as being 6 people.
So what am I doing about this? Well I am meeting as many people as I can through various ways, focusing on women -because I want to find a partner. Eventually this will be achieved. It is only a matter of time before we find each other.
Even though I already knew a lot of these things, I feel this explicit self-realisation, where I tie everything together has helped me to understand a lot about myself and because of this, these 11 days of semi- solitude have been extremely valuable.
Further I now look at who I shall send this letter to. Interestingly by sending this to people I am sharing an experience and thus mitigating my aloneness in some way. I am also thinking that by not sharing this thought then how can I validate it and also if it isn’t shared then it is just like an unshared life experience – worth a lot less.