Thursday, August 31, 2006

All by myself

Most people I meet seem to assume that because I live on my own I must be lonely. There is though, and this what most people don't realise, a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. They are two completely different states of being I think.

Loneliness to me is being unable to be at peace with yourself, unable to reconcile your conscience or unable to share your feelings, fears, anxieties and pleasures with someone else. Living alone on the other hand is a choice, however much I may sometimes feel that it isn't. I choose to live alone. I don't have too but I like my life this way. I like the independence and freedom that comes from being able to do my own thing.

Naturally, even when you live on your own, you still live by rules and routines, largely self-imposed. For example, I always go to bed regularly around 11pm each night. I don't have too but its my little routine. I always sit at the table to have dinner in the same chair, when I have a choice. I always get out of bed the same side each morning, although the latter has more to do with superstition and habit than anything! Perhaps it is habit then rather than routine that imposes itself upon me even though I could choose to do things differently. But routine or habit, whatever it is, is comforting. Even when you live on your own, it is nice to feel that there is structure in the day or I find it so. I like the reassurance that some things are always the same.

I think maybe deep down and I am loathe to admit it that I have a controlling side to my personality. I like order, I like things to be just so. Or is that some sort of obsessive compulsive thing? It may not appear that there is much order in my flat most of the time as it normally looks a tip. However, there is a discernible order to me. I know where everything is. I arrange things in particular ways - my books are all grouped according to subject and then alphabetically by author. I am careful to ensure my favourite authors have a prominent position on my bookshelf. My CD collection is ordered by type of music and artist and my DVD collection is in a strict alphabetical order. I get quite annoyed when I find something is not back in its proper place.

A more pertinent example of my craving for order and the 'just so' is perhaps exhibited at work. I loathe for example the way some of my colleagues write letters. I have a particular style and manner of laying out a letter that I stick to religiously. If I have to proof-read somebody else's letter I find myself mentally tutting at their style, the language and the presentation. I like things to be just so. I happen to think my way is best.

I guess a lot of this claim for order comes from the fact that I feel more comfortable in structured situations, where there is a clear hierarchy and everyone has a role to play. Perhaps because of this I always feel more comfortable in the work environment than I do in social situations. Work is controlled, there is a distinct line of control and there are rules and regulations that have to be adhered too. I may not like what I do or sometimes the people I work with but I can cope with it (mostly) because there is a structure to it.

Maybe all this claim for order and structure is why I live alone and find it so difficult to share with almost anybody else. In my more optimistic moods I see myself as an open book but in reality, the real me is hidden most of the time. I can become very lonely in those moments. Without structure I find it difficult to express myself, most tellingly in social situations. I don't know what my place or role is. What are the rules? There isn't a clear hierarchy. I prefer to sit back, let everyone else interact and only join in (albeit rarely) when I feel I might have something interesting or productive to say. Sometimes I can talk lucidly for hours and feel comfortable in the company I keep but this is only with people that I have known well or for a long time. Even then, I am not really myself. I always hold something back. Fear I think must play a part in this. But fear is a foolish man's obsession. I have nothing really to be fearful of.


Carla said...

You know what, just about everybody I know is as you describe. The great thing about a partner is, if you find the right one, they fit right into your world. Look at Derek and me. Could you find two people more alike? We're only different in the most superficial ways. In the important ways--like preferring to stay home and watch movies to going to pubs, collecting DVDs and little tidbits, the kind of holidays we like, the kind of food we like, our views on people in general, you name it!!---we are exactly alike. So a partner doesn't have to be an interloper.

Of course, living alone is good, too. It's all good and it's all right! :)

jamie said...

you ask what your role/position is.
i think i can best answer this,you are our brother and loved one.
that most cherished of objects... a friend.

i think i'm going to be sick.