Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Existential Dilemma

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. " Hunter S. Thompson

Well, The Climber has gone away for three weeks, doing his own thing with a friend, so I'm back to being on my own for a while and it's got me pondering.

My personal experience of life has left me with the certain feeling that I am essentially alone in the world. I have a few friends, a couple of family members left, and lots of people who know me but, even though I have now been in a relationship with The Climber for almost three years, I still feel alone. And I hate it.

Even without him buggering off on trips like this, I feel essentially alone. I've blamed him for this most of the time but I'm wondering now if I have been so damaged by losing almost everyone I care about in my life that I actually do not dare to give myself fully to another man.

This only occurred to me recently when, one day, he was away climbing in snowy, somewhat dangerous conditions and I worried about him. And I found myself thinking/feeling "I do not want to, I cannot, go through losing the man in my life again. I cannot go through the pain of losing half of me and of feeling like an outsider again." It was then that it occurred to me that I might be holding back from full emotional commitment to him as much or maybe even more than he is holding back from me.

I definitely protect myself from the pain caused by other people. This started in childhood, when my adored father sexually abused me. It turned me overnight into a little girl who knew she could never again rely on another human being, never again absolutely trust another human being. Then The Golfer came along. And he was nothing like my father. He was big and safe and trustworthy. And for almost all of our marriage, he never did let me down. After he died, I had to go back to being my own protector.

I wonder if one of the things that attracted The Climber and me to each other is that we are both avoiding commitment - he has had a lifetime of everything coming second to climbing (a very common trait in climbers, apparently) and I can't bear the risk of being hurt again. So we keep it light. We play house. We have great fun. I'm so glad we keep making up after we break up and I'm so glad he's in my life but...


Is it an inevitable part of getting older? Not necessarily. I look at friends who are the same age as me, still married to their childhood sweethearts, parents still alive, surrounded by siblings and grandkids and wonder when was the last time they were alone even for an hour, when was the last time they had to do something for themselves instead of calling for husband, brother, dad to do it for them. I think for people lucky enough not to have had much death in their lives, being lonely in the existential, absolute way I've been lonely , is a totally alien concept. Even though I love my boyfriend very much, I still have pangs of envy every time I go to married friends' houses and am reminded of the life I used to have. And maybe that isn't so much to do with his lack of desire to settle down with me as with my own demons from the past - demons that I will never be free of, that I can only try to learn to live with.

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