Sunday, November 20, 2016

The abject loneliness of being

Nine years ago was the last time I flirted with loneliness this close. I remember one night, just walking down the streets of Southern Bangalore feeling numb – the mind was blank. There was no one in life that I was particularly close to, and none that would miss me at least for a few days if I disappeared altogether one fine day. It was a sobering moment; made me question the very purpose of existence. The wanting to be loved, that my life has been all along.

Scientifically it is all explained. When you have abusive parents, when the sources of love that every child must nourish from are left dry for you, your life becomes a parching thirst for finding love. But knowing this gives you no solace. Especially one of the consequences of growing up as a victim of abuse is an inherent incapacity to trust. And without trust, no one can love you. Thus while you are searching for love, you are also the selfsame force pushing away those that would love you otherwise. I don’t know which is worse, knowing all this, or knowing all this and still being able to do nothing about it.

These days I’ve once again felt the same. This year was pretty eventful – in an attempt to mend the non-existent relationship with my parents, I invited them to Madison. I guess it speaks of the folly of human optimism that even though you’ve tried a zillion times before, you desperately hope that the results would be different this time. True to form, from the moment my parents set foot here, I was transported back to that abusive life that I had known all along my childhood until leaving the nest for college. It says something when the very earliest memory you have is of yourself, two – perhaps three years old, cowering and crying in a corner, when your farther, in a drunken fit and wielding a butcher’s knife, is threatening to kill your mother.

Anyhow, that visit sealed it for me that I can build no bridge here. That realization however is devastating. Particularly with my father being abusive towards me, I withdrew into a shell of my own, so much so that I have little relationship with my cousins or even my own sister. I did not attend my sister’s wedding. It is not that I do not care about them; but if in dealing with them I had to deal with my parents, then that set the stone on even a semblance of possibility. The torment of parents already filled my plates so that I had nothing left in me to build relationships with other family. And when you put it fair and square, it really means I have no family. They exist for name, and I know I will still make effort to stay in touch, but there is no feeling of family.

To top that off, this year also saw my turning into an atheist. That happened well before my parents visit. And while someone I liked and asked out doing an about face and dating someone I had considered a close friend (and now they will be getting married in a couple of months) precipitated the happenstance; this was a long time coming. I will say little here, since I have another entry in the making on my “turning atheist,” but I weathered the storm of devastation from my parents’ visit – arguably one of the darkest times in my life – without going back to Christianity. And I must say I hold no grudge against my ci-devant good friend – I am happy for him, and it all fits in with the realization that the universe is heartless and arbitrary.

But yes, once again the mind is a blank. I don’t feel like I meet many interesting people these days – wish I knew more people that valued being well read and being civil in disagreements, and had the time to invest in making friends – for making friends takes time. Wish I too could meet a pleasant girl, fall in love and be married – move on to the next stage on Maslow’s need hierarchy. But then what do I have to give? No family that would be supportive, and an introverted clamshell of a mind? Would I want to impose myself on anyone? Granted I stay in shape, have a satisfying job, am frugal and prudent, and few could compare with my zeal for adventures – say camping, sailing, what not, but who wants all of that mess that is in my head? I guess silence is the lonely man’s companion. At least it distances strife and conflict even though it may be bereft of joy.

I don’t know what to do about all this. And not knowing leaves the mind blank. You look out the window and it’s empty, cold and wintry – both outside, and within. I guess in times like these, books are one’s best friends – they will help you weather through even the roughest of seas. And time: time heals all wounds, washes away all sorrows and settles all dust.

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