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22 February 2013


Archer: "Has loneliness been a big theme in your life?"
Me: "Yeah, I guess so. I'd never thought so before, but I'm realizing it now."

Writing my autobiography has brought a lot of patterns into focus. Forests that'd I missed for the trees, are making themselves known. It started out as an assignment for one of the History courses I'm taking this semester: write an autobiographical account of your first thirty years, and point out major crossroads in your life and how you were affected by the events of the time. This has morphed into a person project of much greater proportions. When my professor reviewed my rough draft, she commented that it seemed I was writing the next Oprah's Book Club novel.

The version I'm writing now - the one I'll turn in for grading - is G-rated. I left out so much that I had to work really hard to make it feel in any way authentic in my eyes. I think I've managed, though, and I'm relatively pleased with the progress. And when this semester is over, I'm going to delve into for real.

There's a pattern of unhealthy relationships which I had recognized before, but never understood. I had vague notions of how it was related to my history of abuse, and my mental illness, but I couldn't explain it in a useful way. Now, I'm seeing how loneliness has driven so much of that.

I've written before about my fears concerning my inability to live alone. I've also thought extensively about how that affects my relationship with Archer, who cannot be happy living with another person (he probably wouldn't phrase it quite like that, but I would). I've considered the possibility of needing a roommate for... I don't know, my entire life maybe. I want very much to figure out how to mitigate my loneliness without jeopardizing my relationship with Archer, which is so very precious to me.

Lately I had begun to wonder, how much loneliness is healthy? That was the wrong question. Even "how to I deal with loneliness in a healthy way" wasn't quite what I needed to answer. Not first, anyway.

This morning, I had my first therapy appointment. I'm going to a civilian therapist, since the VA doesn't have time for me. Spendy, but worth it. 

I tried to describe how I experience loneliness - that it goes hand-in-hand with my depression, sometimes so much so that loneliness seems as though it were the root of the feelings of depression, as I experience them. She asked me if it were possible that the depression was causing the loneliness, rather than the other way around. 'Of course,' I thought and said, because it seemed so obvious and because that had  occurred to me. But, I hadn't really given it full consideration before. Nor did I, in that moment. The idea was dawning, though, and now, just a few hours later, it's coming into bloom. If I can begin to think of loneliness as a symptom  of depression, perhaps I can push it aside as I do my depression.

I'm not talking about normal loneliness. I'm talking about the fearful, painful type that doesn't let go even when I'm surrounded by people, even people who love me and whom I love. This is the loneliness that has driven me, unwitting, to nurture unhealthy relationships just for the sake of having one, and simultaneously driven me to seclude myself from people I cared about. This is the loneliness that kills.

I can already begin to imagine, just faintly as though through a veil, what it might be like to someday be ok with being alone in my home. Thinking of the loneliness as a projection of the depression, instead of a separate entity, makes it somehow less threatening, less powerful. Maybe I won't need a roommate after all.  

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