The Sense of Being Alone
I have something I want to write about this week, a great deal. But I don’t believe I can. You see, its a very somber subject and I don’t think any of you come here to be brought low (indeed, before I started writing here most of the content was light and positive and I’m sure a lot of you wish it still was) and I dare not risk being a trigger that drive some hurting sister further into a dark place. But at the same time, the subject is weighing heavily enough on my mind that it’s making things difficult for me in terms of doing justice to a more positive subject, particularly one that doesn’t simply put a slight spin on something I’ve already written. So what you are (hopefully!) about to read is an attempt to briefly discuss the subject I dare not discuss without actually discussing it.
A friend of mine on Facebook provoked these thoughts with a post making reference to a phone call she’d received about a woman in the process of coming to terms with her female gender identity. It brought to my mind again the subject of how we, all of us for whom this situation in integral to our whole lives, are in such desperate need to not feel as if we are completely alone. Sometimes, I suppose, we actually are. Alone I mean. As much as social media gives us the ability to be long-distance cheerleaders to our hurting online friends, distance is one component in alone-ness, and it can be near impossible to take a message of solidarity from California seriously when you are in rural South Dakota. But it does matter that you can feel you’re not on the journey alone. That there are others who’s walked the same road, stepped in the same holes, stumbled over the same rocks, gotten up again in the same spot as we do now. To the degree that any of us can sense our fellow travelers, even though we cannot see them with our eyes, it helps.
But I don’t think that is a complete remedy for the absence of flesh and blood companionship. And I don’t mean here the romantic sort of companionship, but rather the sort that goes beyond that, beyond mere friendship. All of us crave, I think, top be taken seriously. As a friend, a spouse or a parent where applicable, as a valued child or trusted employee (or employer) – as the person we know ourselves to be. I think one of the most hurtful feelings I can experience, and I’ll bet it’s the same for anyone, is to become aware that someone I care about doesn’t take me seriously. I confess that in my weaker moments i ca become pretty paranoid on the subject. A lot of times that’s my own fault – when someone says to me “you’re such a good writer” I often wonder “Am I? Or is it just that almost no one will say to you “your stuff really isn’t very good” and they were trying to be nice. I mean, after all, we all know it happens.
In another life, I was appointed director of the choir in a small country church, having neither musical training or much of a voice. Why? Because there was one woman in the choir who was both a horrible singer, and also possessed of the highest volume in the room. I was believed to be the only person willing to be honest with her and encourage her to dial it back to a place where she didn’t overwhelm the other singers. Everyone else in the church, when she sang, praised her as a wonderful singer. I didn’t. I did say nice things about her obvious passion and so forth, I didn’t insult her – but I couldn’t bring myself to be insincere. Still, it was seeing that sort of behavior that convinced me that my own negative opinion of myself was correct, and anything anyone said to the contrary was the same sort of act as praising that woman’s singing voice.
But sometimes it’s not just you – sometimes the ones you’d most want to take you seriously don’t, and sometimes some of them don’t try to hide it at all. One can be more alone at a family reunion than they ever would be on a mountain top. Too many of us are too often alone. I suggest that makes it incumbent upon us to work harder to be there, where ever “there” is, to make a difference about that.
photo by epSOS.de