Monday, April 20, 2009


This last year has seen me turn seriously hermit. There have been many reasons. I can't deny my natural inclination to solitude or a miserable trait that sometimes relishes the pain of loneliness. I really do try to fight the latter. Part of it is economic. Part time income and full time living expenses mean that every visit with a friend has to be measured out in dollars and cents. The lines between necessities, niceties and luxuries are much more clearly defined. As tough as this has been, I feel like a better person for the lessons learned.

A big, no, a huge part, of this has been caused by knowing my emotional condition. There are way too many times when I just feel like my presence would be a burden in a people's lives. I can be exceptionally well disciplined in hiding my mental and emotional state around people with whom I don't feel a serious connection. Since my job provides the bulk of my social interaction, I find myself in that controlled state a lot. My supervisor told me once that she would never believe it if someone said that I had been rude. Honestly, part of this is natural talent, part is acquired skill, and part is simple professionalism.

If there is a deep connection with another person, I cannot help what comes out of me when I am cradled in the love of a friend. Because I make those connections very carefully, I treasure them. I don't want to abuse them. I don't want to take and never give, and this last year, I've had nothing to give. I don't mean material things, though I long (and am working to be able) to be generous again. All I've had to offer anyone has been what's inside me. I've needed to work through the insanity of grief, here, in my private journals, in my head, but I haven't wanted to spread it too far around. I'm sure my friends feel like I've blown them off. I don't blame them and can only hope for their tolerance and forgiveness.

The nature of my work (as well as the nature of life) means that real solitude is rare. I've always been an empathetic person, but I made an effort several months ago to shut it down. I didn't want to feel the anger, the lust, the disgust, the greed, the vanity, the pettiness when I was around people. I didn't want to feel their happiness when I couldn't find any for myself. I had enough negativity of my own to deal with. Unfortunately, I also cut myself off from feeling the love, the innocence and the wonder.

I've been too apart. I've been working to re-establish that ephemeral connection with other people. It is a connection, even when no words are spoken, no eye contact made, when we move past each other untouching. The Bible tells us that we are all one in God. Quantum physics is pointing to a possibility that this could be literally so, that every person, every thing is just an indivisible part of a single entity.

So I've been trying to make that connection again; to see myself in the black guy with the gang colors also shopping in the dollar store, to find myself in the haughty woman who's berating her waiter while I wait for my daughter the waitress, the redneck in the truck in front of me with the bumper sticker about prying his gun from his cold, dead fingers, the girl scratching the meth induced sores on her arms in the convenience store, the teenagers buying expensive dresses, so blithely confident that life will always be wonderful, the Republicans who keep sending me stuff bashing President Obama, the woman who brags of her road rage as if it's funny. Can I feel something of them in me? Can I connect with saint and sinner and know that we are all the same?

Can I really be the hermit I think I am if I do?


Blogger Jul said...

I think you can have empathy for those around you without needing to see yourself in them. If you have empathy, that's the real point because you are recognizing different types of human suffering and when you are in the position to help someone less fortunate I know it is in your nature to do so. Life throws us curve balls and sometimes we catch them and are able to deal with them and other times we catch them in the face and have to take the time to let those wounds heal. After all you've been through a hermit period is to be expected and while you may feel judged or feel like you are letting people down, know that true friends just want you to heal and help although they probably feel very helpless. I see you moving forward. Maybe not at the pace you desire or need, but nonetheless, forward. And that is good.

Connect with the good people, people like yourself. As for the misguided people at the end of your last paragraph, allow God to deal with them. Come judgement day I think they will be in for a big surprise.

April 20, 2009 2:00 PM  
Blogger redsneakz said...

I know that it's hard to imagine this, but don't ever think that your sadness is a burden to a real friend. A real friend will do what's best - sometimes listen silently, sometimes cry with you, and sometimes give you a very vigorous pat on the lowest part of your back (ahem).

Often, friends get it wrong and give you the comfort that they would like to get if they felt as if you do. Don't sweat it. They're trying.

And you're STILL not a burden.

April 20, 2009 4:15 PM  
Blogger emmapeelDallas said...


I don't know you except here in the blogosphere, but there are some things that I do know. First and foremost, do not ever think even for a moment that you have nothing to give. Anyone can tell by what you write that you're a terrific, interesting, bright, warm, sensitive, strong woman. Whether you realize it or not, those qualities always shine through. Although I don't always comment, yours is one of a handful of blogs that I read regularly, and that's because what you write is always worth reading.

I'm not religious but your post makes me think of Ecclesiastes (and of The Byrds): To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven...a time to laugh, and a time to weep, a time to dance and a time to mourn, a time to keep silence and a time to speak...

It seems to me this was mostly your time to mourn and to keep silence...but now, maybe it's time to turn to other things. This I do know: true friends will always give you as much space as you need, and will welcome you back when you're ready to come back.

April 21, 2009 12:45 AM  

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