Alone with the Alone

Alone

I’ve spent a lot of time on my own lately.

The completion of my bachelor’s degree was not the victory I felt like it would be. You would think I would feel different about everything now that I’ve completed that four year stint of my life which consisted of nothing but homework, work and running mostly on fumes. At most I thought I’d be happy with the accomplishment. But when they handed me that folder with my diploma inside I gave it a glance and put it in the bag of goodies the Alumni association gave to all the graduates. Now I just feel like I’ve lost purpose and all I’m doing with myself is working, exercising when I can and trying to get some sleep. I’ve resorted to escapism in watching TV shows like ER and playing video games on my Nintendo DS.

I used to think I was an island. I didn’t need anyone to get me through the day. I’m finding more and more in the last few weeks that it was just the stress and preoccupation with homework that kept me from really feeling the gravity of what it feels like to be truly alone. It hasn’t helped that one of the only people I talk to on a regular basis has been off driving around enjoying herself. I don’t blame her. I just notice the difference in my life with the absence of communication we typically have on a daily basis.

God created us to be social and relational. I’m learning when you remove those elements from life it becomes lackluster and depressing, as if it’s not worth getting out of bed because I don’t know what to do with myself if I did. This became extremely obvious to me last Sunday when I woke up feeling this great weight on my heart, as if all the sadness and pain I’ve been containing was loaded into the barrel of the cannon in my chest and I just didn’t have the spark within me to light the fuse, to eject all the negativity that I had been swallowing that past week. But I sat up with a shot, got dressed and promptly exited my house and got in my car. This is an old coping mechanism that I haven’t had to utilize for a long time but I could think of nothing else to do to resolve the hell that was burning inside me.

So, I drove.

I-80 West is a lovely stretch of road. It doesn’t pass through many populated areas and the speed limit is 75 MPH most of the time. I cranked up some tunes and tried to catch up with my racing mind that’s been plaguing me for quite some time, keeping me awake and sending my anxiety levels through the roof. The purpose of this drive is not to have a destination. For someone like me who relies on planning and knowing where I’m going, the prospect of traveling without a destination is somehow liberating. The speed mixed with cigarettes and good music is soothing and helps me sort out the mess in my head most of the time. But I just couldn’t shake it.

And so I drove some more.

Anger, depression and anxiety are some of the hardest emotional states for me to outrun. They are poison to the soul; they latch on and it’s difficult to shake them loose. But as the drive continued I started communicating with her about what I was going through. The greatest people in the world are the ones that are the ones who care about you regardless of how crazy you are. Four and a half hours later I was in North Platte, NE. I stopped to use the bathroom and pick up something to drink. I got back in the car and decided to head back home. I had a realization when I was nearing the end of my journey West. I was listening to Killswitch Engage’s album “Alive or Just Breathing” and the song “The Element of One” came on. I’ve been listening to this album for years but it’s amazing how old songs can hit you in new ways. It was when I heard the following lines that my heart broke open and I was able to breathe a little easier. Yes, I even cried a little:

I will return to you
I am with you always
I will never turn away from you

Breathe me in
I am forever
Deep within.
I am eternal

It felt like God was speaking to me in that moment. No matter how lonely I was feeling, how dejected, how alone and isolated I was feeling that he is with me always and will never turn away from me. This is the most amazing thing to someone like me who, thanks to a number of painful experiences, has severe abandonment issues. And it was a good reminder for me as I have been feeling completely burnt out on church after 4 years of attending chapel services twice a week where God seemed more like a source of entertainment than someone to be honored and worshipped. But perhaps I’m just cynical.

I still haven’t figured out what to do with all of this yet. I still have my moments, especially at night when I can’t sleep. But I am never alone. I remember at the beginning of my first year at Bible college I wrote that I wasn’t alone anywhere. Sometimes, I need a reminder of that and I am happy when, in his providence, God shows me that I am not alone no matter where I am.

So, now the point is living life without a destination. To remember no matter how many friends I had that have since forgotten me and left me to my own devices, I have to remember what is here and now. No matter how tempted I am to dwell on the future and my ever-persistent fear that the Pulley song “Second Best” does not become my anthem:

I don’t care too much about anything anymore
There’s no difference between wrong and right
I’m tired of living life out of spite.
I don’t care too much about anything anymore.
Been here too long
It’s a change I can’t go through
You’re better off without me aren’t you?

I have lost my faith in finding humanity
For every girl that ever broke my heart
For every fucked up friend that played that part
I have lost my faith in finding humanity
Compassion isn’t enough for all I’ve been through
You’re better off without me aren’t you?

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