Friday, October 12, 2018

Alone And Unloved

I wonder if it's possible to feel un-alone and loved without undergoing a change of consciousness? I remember a period in my life — after boarding school and military service — when, for the first time, I was turned loose to my own devices, i.e., I was "free" to come and go as I pleased.

No longer was my daily schedule regulated from above by parents, teachers, or sergeants. No longer was my room, board, travel, and entertainment paid for.

Disaffected Youth - JJ Semple, 1960s something
If I didn't have a job, I wouldn't eat. If I didn't get out of bed and go to work, they'd evict me. If I didn't go out in search of friendship and sex, I would remain friendless and unrelieved. Of course, there was always the people at work, but at my first two jobs in photography labs, I spent six hours a day in a darkroom. Lots of time for fantasizing and daydreaming about why I was miserable and what I might do to turn my life around, but not much for pursuing relationships or expanding my social life.

It's that way for many. Witness the following:
"I'm very good at being chatty, I can talk to anyone, but that doesn't mean I'm able to have those lasting relationships with people," says Michelle. "You can be in a group and it can be intimidating because you're conscious of not letting people get to know the 'real you'.

"I would say I've always had an element of feeling lonely. Ever since I was a teenager, I've always felt a little bit different and separate from large groups of friends, but in the last five years it's crept in more."

Michelle has experienced anxiety and depression which she finds can amplify her loneliness because she finds it hard to articulate negative emotions.

"If I'm in a group I often find myself saying 'I'm great' when people ask how I am. It's almost like an out-of-body experience because I can hear myself saying these positive things, when I'm thinking about how I struggled to get out bed yesterday. It's the loneliness of knowing how you feel in your own head and never being able to tell people.
 ~ "Surrounded by people - but I feel so unloved" - The Loneliness Experiment - BBC
 So I enrolled in George Washington University. And instead of nothing and no one, there was suddenly too much. I became even more frantic. If I wasn't seeing someone or going somewhere, I felt alone and unloved. 

Close to the university at 25th. Street and Pennsylvania Ave. across the street from St. Stephen-Martyr Church, I had a great one-bedroom apartment for $90/mo. (now, 50 years later, it's the Avenue Suites, Georgetown). Another classic Washington row house bites the dust.

Parties and a series of girl friends; minimalist, yet tasteful, furniture, the apartment was equidistant from my two favorite Pennsylvania Avenue bars: Brownley's to the right and the One Step Down to the left, hot spots I'd repair to for a round, or several rounds of drinks, if I wasn't seeing someone. At last call, I'd lurch my way home from Brownley's in the snow through a messy construction site (the Washington Circle underpass was being built at the time).

I was feuding with St. Stephen's. Their noisy bells waking me at early I'd put a large speaker on my window that blared Thelonious Monk at the ringing bells. At one party I suddenly had the thought that all the guests were having more fun than I was, so I ordered everyone out. That was my life: too much to drink or smoke and a feeling that I was missing something, that somewhere people I knew were having more fun than I was.

And so it came to pass...getting tossed out on the street. I was having a bacon, egg, and English muffin brunchfast one morning when the door started being knocked on. I opened it and three burly men with moving equipment brushed by me and started packing everything up. I and my household and my tasty breakfast were out on the street in less than ten minutes.

It's not that I couldn't have raised the $90.00, I just didn't want to be bothered. By the time I came back with a borrowed truck, most my possessions had disappeared.

The story made the bar circuit with me for a week, until I grew sick of it and sick of my life.

Within five years, I had moved to Paris — practicing yoga and meditating. When kundalini awakened two years later, I immediately felt unbounded. It had always been me and everyone else, and why couldn't I be as happy everyone else seemed to be?

No anxiety; it had faded away. No why-was-I-so mixed up; I no longer was.

I didn't have to work at getting adjusted like so many of my contemporaries who'd spent fortunes on psychs. Kundalini had effected an organic change — the physical actions of yoga and meditation had opened up the metaphysical. My consciousness had changed, and along with it, my Being. Washing the dishes became the same as going to a party.

Sure there was a long adjustment: learning to live with kundalini is a long process, affecting the somatic, metabolic as well as the emotional and the cognitive. I was no longer spiraling downward.
GROSS: You know, early in your career, you said that your work is really about the sadness normal people feel because they're not involved in show business.
WATERS: Somebody said that was the snottiest thing I've ever said. I didn't mean it to be snotty. But I believe that - that most everybody secretly imagines himself in show business. And every day on their way to work, they're a little bit depressed because they're not. People are sad they're not famous in America.
~ Terry Gross Interview with John Waters - "Cult Icon John Waters On Breaking Taboos And Embracing Villains" - Fresh Air, NPR

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