Sometimes it’s hard to know everything that’s happening to us in the moment they’re happening. The moment passes and we notice in hindsight that we aren’t the same. Sometimes, it’s for the better and lots of times it’s for the worse.
I’ve noticed something strange happening to me lately (that’s my safe way of separating my involvement from the occurrence). I get really tired of being introspective and philosophical and I disconnect my mind from my state of being. I’ll go for days, weeks, perhaps even months without really knowing how I am; I mean, how I really am, on the inside. When people ask, I either give a short answer or just say, “I’m not sure”. As this happens, I’ll also disconnect from people – even those that are the closest to me. I don’t want to get into it – it’s a deep well in there, so I’ll just shut down the deepest parts of myself and give to others just enough to have them think that I’m fine. We’ll joke around, laugh, even discuss serious topics and have conversations about personal things. But the whole time, I’m not really connecting. I’m just spitting out information or sharing things that are safe and easy to talk about.
In this day and age, and in this culture, especially, individuality is highly valued. I make my own way, I am self-sufficient and I am happy. That seems to be the message that is esteemed. I often fall into the trap of thinking that way also. But along with this kind of thinking comes the danger of disintegration from other people. I start thinking I am okay without anyone. [Christians often get to a place of self-sufficiency with God – ‘I’m fine on my own because I have God’ type of mentality.] When things get uncomfortable, I don’t have to deal with that person. When tensions arise, I can simply avoid it. I can say ‘no’ to you because you are unpleasant. I can say, ‘maybe another time’ because I don’t like the way you do certain things. I don’t need you, so I’ll just go about my own way, thanks. I need my alone time, so ‘see ya later’. I don’t have to have that tough conversation because, well, it’s not really enjoyable for me. Or maybe it’s something in me that I don’t want to share. My weakness, pain or struggle that I’d really rather not share with anyone else. My inability to apologize for hurting someone. My refusal to admit that I am wrong. So I’ll just push that somewhere deep inside, and shut that part off from ever seeing the light of day.
The thing is – this kind of disintegration – it’s really easy to get away with it if there aren’t people who have courage enough or are vulnerable or close enough to ask me what’s really going on. And it’s not like it happens just overnight. It sneaks up over time and before I know it, I feel really isolated, alone and helpless. And this may happen to a single person, or even to a married person, a person living with friends or with family, someone who has kids, or just about anyone, actually.
Solitude can be a gift. But it can also be used as a defense to avoid my self and others and the deep parts of who we are. If I am putting those parts away consistently and don’t really allow a person see the whole of who I am, I don’t know that I can call that an honest relationship.
So I beg of you. Please don’t let that happen to you.
And I plead with you. Please don’t let it happen to me.