Today, a Face book friend of mine named T. R Bell, posted something that ignited a great big question that has been in my brain for a very long time. Let me explain what she posted. Here is the post:
T. R. BELL’S QUESTION:
“If it were possible to gather all your Facebook friends in a bar, who would you gravitate to first?” Sounds like an innocent, simple enough question. Here was my answer:
“Definitely, my son first (he’s a bartender!). Then my other son, (I just want him there!). Then, Jim (my bodyguard and husband, haha!). And Finally, EVERYONE else on my list of 2,264 friends… I want to meet them ALL!!!
Oh! And especially all the writers: I want them at my table, “Reserved for WRITERS” so we can brainstorm about our Art.”
Simple enough interaction. Why is this exchange so valuable you ask? Because it made me realize something about myself. First, note: she did not ask me who I would want to have come to the bar and interact with me, but who I would gravitate to first. In my mind, I imagined all these people strolling into a bar, never even registering the last part of the sentence, “who would you gravitate to first?” I was too busy getting excited about all the 2,266 friends I have on Face book, coming to hang out with me!
(Frankly, I would probably freak out if I really had people wanting to hang out with ME!)
As I read other answers, and thought about them, it struck me. I never consider myself as gravitating from one to another, because for me, I saw the whole experience as a pleasure of being inside of the whole group at the same time, with everyone mingling, chatting, laughing, etc. all at the same time, with me, and with each other! This made me feel a part of everyone else.
When the imagery of that moment ran through my head I sighed. I saw it clearly: I am so terribly lonely that I want to just be surrounded by lots of people that know my name and I know them right back!
But it isn’t enough to want to be in a place and hear the song where everybody knows your name chanted. I realized that the biggest problem in my life has always been that I am lonely even if I DID have people all around me that knew me and I knew them. The reality is that I have been suffering acutely with the idea of being alone deep inside me, for all my life.
Since I have always been a curious nature since a child as well, I look at everything in a clinical way, too. Thus, I needed to explore that reality due to the fact that it hit me as an epiphany.
I realized that I am an acutely lonely personality and have been all my life since I was a child. I felt different than my siblings. They all could get along in the world fine, or at least it seemed, since each of them managed a consistent career. I was the only one that floundered around throughout my life, and found myself being led by others into different pursuits, and I never actually took a decisive action for my own life’s direction. I was the only one that pursued education in my family to a much higher level, all the while, taking orders, following everyone else in their own endeavors, doing paper work that achieved a certain steady flow of grading, and acquiring a certain level of approval in the form of grades and awards. All the while I was seeking after acceptance and approval—which is what I lacked all my life—I was also racking up terrible school loans and never worried that it would come back on me, for I was sure I would be accepted immediately into the teaching field. After over 200 applications and a few interviews, I became disillusioned…and job-less.
I then began to wonder why I had such a deep sense of loneliness. Sure, everyone may say they are lonely or feel lonely once in awhile. But I realized that this loneliness I felt was a perpetual feeling I had been saddled with for my entire life, it did not matter how many degrees I acquired, nor how many awards, group memberships, or people surrounding me in a bar; I always felt that terrible loneliness, and I am positive there are others like me who have either realized this and don’t know what to do about it, or they have not realized the gravity of this concept. I began going over as many memories as I could muster, to gather evidence and to make an assessment and create a question that would take me into a journey in the discovery of my own true loneliness.
Is there a set of components that can trigger or allay such a perpetual emotional limitation? And if so, can it be recognized and changed in time?
I have come up with memories that makes me see the kind of child I was. During my youth, I was told in school that I was an exceptional little girl, brighter than the average child. In those days, there were no gifted programs or 2e programs, or learning handicap examinations; at least, not in my school. It was only a counselor that tell parents “better do something with this child.” If parents did nothing, the child’s talents were never discovered, and if parents knew not how to deal with such a matter, the child gravitated to cultural cues, in my case: what was expected of a girl in the poor economic community in the early 60s; I got married and had babies.
I graduated at the age of 16. In high school my counselor warned my mother that I was highly intelligent, but did not seem motivated, nor did I apply myself to anything. The only thing I did apply myself to, was drawing, acting out, and singing. Everything else was met by my clowning.
I was depressed even back in my childhood, as I could remember looking out the window crying, and waiting for some thing or one to come and get me. How odd. It seemed I was waiting for someone like me to make me feel less alone. I never found that person, because that person was ME. The ME I should have been. After failed marriages, I can truly say, my loneliness is most likely irreparable. The only thing necessary is to accept it, understand it, and write about it, which is what I am doing. I am hoping to help younger others like me, find that someone who is like them, in themselves.
I have come to the conclusion that psychological researchers today have begun searching the answer to my situation. I think it has become noted due to so many suicides in our culture and country.
I believe it has to do with my being a Hyper-Sensitive Personality (Dr. Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person. (1996, 1998).), and I have needed much more support as a child than most. But, my senses were stunted and took me a long time to grow up emotionally, for the reason of being fairly neglected, since no one really ever tried finding out what was going on inside me; I had five siblings, and I was the youngest.
Now that I have realized how HSP affects everything in my life relationships, I am slowly reaching the level of assertion to process and utilize what needs I may discover for growth and health. This should have happened a long time ago, of course. But if it did not, it stunts one’s ability to FEEL the love of others later on in life, and creates a perpetual need of love and affection. Don’t worry, it all sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but I’m writing about it. I THINK it has to do with touch, attention, authentic interaction as children, but not only physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. If a child is not given the proper stimulation from parents, that child will ALWAYS feel lonely no matter the environment throughout life. The trick is to recognize it, and create the prosthetic to not only survive but thrive in spite of it. I hope to change that loneliness feeling for many lonely people through my writing, and I hope to spur medical and psychological research further in regards to this topic of HSP (Hyper-Sensitive Personality).