- Stephen King
People get emotional in the night. Maybe it's that primal fear that every human being holds for the darkness. You don't know what's out there, waiting for you. Or maybe it's that, at the end of the day, we're winding down, tired and worn from whatever it was we happened to do (or not do) during the day. Whatever the reason, the night is the time when all our fears, all our anxieties and insecurities make themselves manifest in our minds and in our hearts. In the darkness of our rooms, behind our closed doors, that is when the loneliness sets in. That is when we have a few moments' peace, a few moments of complete and utter solitude before we fall asleep, and in that quiet, our minds work.
That's something I've always noted about myself at the very least, it's at night that everything seems to fall away and I'm left there with just myself and my thoughts. In recent years my thoughts have been...a little more fearful than before I'd suppose. When I was much younger I used to be afraid of dying. I didn't know how I was going to die, or where I was going when I did. I didn't know if it would hurt, or if there was anything after death. And I was terrified, I'd cower in a corner of my bed and cry, and some nights, when it got really bad, I'd pad over to my parents' room and crawl into bed with them.
I find that as you get older, everything grows with you. Your wants. Your dreams. Your desires. Your fears. I found that as I grew, I found something much bigger to fear than death. It's called life. Life is far more frightening than death. I know where I'm going, or at least, I believe I do, so there's nothing scary about death anymore. Life has so much more that I'm uncertain of, and any man fears uncertainty, no? There are a myriad of things that I have no assurances of. I have no assurance that'll I'll be good in my chosen field. I have no assurance that I'll actually find a girl to marry. I have no assurances that I'll make all the money I want to and get all the things I've wanted. There are no assurances in life, and that's one of the scariest things of all.
But it's not the fear that gets to me in the night. Not anymore. I'm used to the fear, I'm used to choking it down deep in my gut and ignoring it. I'm used to pushing past it and pretending that I'm not at all afraid, that I've got it all under control and I know what I'm doing. I do that, because I hope that if I pretend for long enough, one day all those things about myself will be true. But no, it isn't the fear that gets me. Not anymore, I'm used to the fear and I'm learning, step by step, to move past it.
But there are a great many things that rear their ugly heads in the night aren't there? As teenagers, I know the great monster that so many of us fight. I know his name, and I know what he does, and I know that everyone battles him at some point. This monster is called loneliness. In the past two weeks I've spoken with a few of my friends about it, and in the years I've spent on this earth, I've lost count of the number of times it's come up in conversation, not to mention the number of times I've wrestled with it.
Loneliness is the thing that makes our insides twist themselves into tight knots, it's the thing that squeezes at our hearts and makes it feel like we're going to burst. Loneliness is the thing that makes us curl up close to our pillows in the middle of the night, shut our eyes tight and try to imagine someone who loves us is in our arms, someone beautiful and perfect, and warm. And it's so much worse at certain times isn't it? At times when there's nothing to do. At times when we're afraid of something and we need some support. At times like this, when Christmas is around the corner, and having someone 'special' to share it with would make everything so much sweeter. I know that feeling. I know it all to well. It's a feeling I carry with me every moment of every day. For the past two years.
Loneliness doesn't care if you have a myriad of friends who love you. Loneliness doesn't care if you're the most popular kid in school. Loneliness doesn't care if your family is wonderful or if you're real strong emotionally. Loneliness simply doesn't care. It doesn't discriminate, it strikes when it wants, and sometimes the sting doesn't fade, not until it strikes again, making the hurt or the anxiety seem perpetual.
I was talking to a friend of mine earlier tonight, and I said to her "I'm used to being alone. I have been for two years now." At first glance, I'm being an ingrate. To the parents who love me, and the friends who do their best to support me. And I know that on some level, yes, I am being ungrateful, and yes, they do deserve much much better. But that's the thing about loneliness, remember? You feel alone regardless, and many many many times during these past two years, I've felt alone. Mostly when I'm by myself, in my room, after dark. When all the world around me is quiet and the gears in my brain begin to turn and I start to think and hope and dream and regret. That's when it get loneliest. At night. It can hurt too, so bad that I need to wrap my arms around my knees, bury my head under the blankets and squeeze my eyes shut as I go "lalalalalalalalalala" in my head to stop the bad thoughts.
That's the thing about being human though, isn't it? We can adapt to any situation. We change and learn and evolve just so we can survive. In my case, I know what's happened to me. Or at least, I think I do. I do it to all things that hurt me. I tell my friends this all the time. Embrace it. Don't like a name people call you? Embrace it, accept it into yourself, take away its power to hurt you. Make it a part of you. That's what I've done with loneliness. I think, in some way, I've allowed this monster that I fight, define me. It's a part of my life, feeling lonely. I've always seen myself apart from others. Different. Strange. Not fitting in.
It used to hurt a lot more. But recently I find that... it doesn't. I just don't care. I wonder if that means I've grown up just a little, that I handle it better than before. That loneliness has lost some of its hold over me, or if I've just given up. If I've just accepted that this is all there is to life, being lonely and carrying that burden around with me the rest of my days. It's all very romantic to think about, being alone. Being misunderstood, standing apart.
But what I think it all boils down to, is that everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to feel loved. There's a part of themselves they want to give away, and specially at times like Christmas, a season of giving, they want to give that part of themselves. And when they find that there isn't anyone to receive it at the moment, it gets lonely. There's a part of me that wants that. That wants to give itself to another person, to love them, and pamper them, and protect them and smother them with my affections. That's the part of me that dreams of a beauty to fight for, a damsel in distress to rescue. The part of me that builds himself cloud castles in the sky and wishes on shooting stars.
I left that part of me behind for a long time. Didn't want to carry it. Thought not feeling it. Not wanting it, no bothering about it would make me stronger. I thought that if I didn't love, that I wouldn't get hurt. Two years I lived like that. Because I was afraid of feeling alone. Because loneliness hurts oh, so much.
But hey, it's Christmastime.
So I'll give myself a present. I guess I'll pick that part of myself up again, dust it off, and set it back in its place of honour somewhere inside of my. I know it's going to hurt like hell. I know that I never really stopped being lonely, I just accepted loneliness as a fact of life. That isn't the way we were made, I don't think. Not to be alone. Not to fumble through life blind with no one to take our hand and lead us to light.
I think it's time to give myself a present. I'll let myself hope, and dream again. I'll let myself want again and want fiercely enough to fight and go for what I want. I think I've healed enough, stored up enough strength, and learned enough lessons to be ready to do that. At least I hope I have. Either way, it's time to stop going it alone. It's time I stop trying to be the wounded veteran, old and battle hardened, world weary and full of experience.
What can I say about these past two years? Only this:
I was defeated.
I gave up.
There comes a time though. When you've learned all you can about a certain area. I know all I will ever need to know about being alone. I think it's time I learned more about what it's like to walk together.
That's probably the best present I could give myself at this point in time.
After all, it's Christmas.
Merry Christmas guys,
"Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named, not good."
- John Milton