Reading Stephen Fry’s website entry yesterday about the outpouring of love following his revelation he attempted suicide last year was another eye opener. (http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/24/only-the-lonely/) He talked about feeling lonely and that’s something I can more than relate to in my own life. I’ve always removed myself from others and can feel at my most remote when in a room full of people. I’m not sure that loneliness is even the right word for what he describes and what I have always felt – more that you’re an outsider in your own life and circumstances.
It’s not an ego thing or thinking that you are better than everyone else around you – in fact it’s almost the opposite of that in that you don’t think others will want to spend time with you. I know from my own life that there are occasions when I’m in company I overact and react to things, constantly trying to say funny things or think of quick comebacks. It’s a need to impress those around you for some reason and that makes you feel removed too as you are not engaging in the conversations fully – instead you are listening just to throw in a one liner or silly observation.
Like Mr Fry I too am not the biggest fan of my own company, but often I will separate myself from others almost just to allow me some space to switch off for a while and unwind. When I get home from work I have to sit at the computer for a good ten to fifteen minutes to just stop and be on my own without doing anything – not working, travelling, thinking, engaging or chatting. It’s nothing against the family but just a thing that I have to do or I get ratty. Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who gives me space but just as importantly welcomes me back.
It’s something I have always done. I remember in Primary school there was an “out of bounds” area round the side of the school and I used to like just sitting under the tree there in solitude – not for attention or for any specific reason, just because. At home I have my office, at work I have my classroom and I think that’s why I enjoy driving on my own touring around country roads with no destination in mind.
I do enjoy other people’s company and have fantastic friends and family who I can spend time with, but even then I sometimes have to take five minutes just to be on my own to catch my thoughts and allow me space. It’s a bit like claustrophobia but in people. On two separate occasions in crowded places I’ve found myself “lose it” once in Tesco on a busy Sunday afternoon and once at a teaching event where there were too many people pushing and moving around me and I felt I couldn’t escape.
Yes in truth I am far from lonely and have a wonderful family and group of friends who all tolerate and allow me to be me, but it’s more than a feeling it’s almost a part of who I am. I seem to have the balance right in my head and know when to get involved in things and when to step back. It’s not an act, or a need for attention and this is not written for any form of sympathy – it’s just my reality.