Sometimes I feel a bit like Moses coming down from the mountain. On a day when I expect nothing much, I will hike up a mountain and hours later will come down with a collection of words that seem to have been given to me.
Today as I hike, taking in the awesome beauty of the California mountains and generally feeling blessed to be alive, I am reminded of a rather independent love interest I once had who was prone to taking long walks by himself. Even when I was walking along with him, he was often by himself. On walks or otherwise, the closer I wanted to get, the more he would push me away. He was often distant and selfish, which served to accentuate just how little I seemed to mean to him. His dismissal of me, unfortunately, turned me into a person I did not recognize. An ultra-needy, emotionally starved me.
What really threw me for a loop, though, was his honest realization one day, “Oh, you need someone to do things with?” I was amazed at his revelation and thought… Well, yeah. Isn’t that the general idea?
Although I’ll never know for sure, it seemed as if he had very little need for me. My neediness, on the contrary, was the death of me in that one-sided partnership. We were never on the same page. I was crushed all the time, on the receiving end of his constant dismissal and routinely wearing my heart on my sleeve. He never showed any signs of wear, until the end, that is, when I was gone. Either way, neither of us escaped the inevitable… being alone again.
I was really hurt by this person I couldn’t get close to, who wouldn’t let me get close. Funny that his biggest fear seemed to be exactly the same as mine: being alone. He was so afraid of being alone that he put the stops on love itself to avoid what might happen in the end. I, on the other hand, was so afraid of being alone that I stuck it out too long with someone who couldn’t be persuaded to do what he was not willing to do–be vulnerable in love. When I left, all he had left to look at was his reflection in the mirror, and I mine, and an inevitable pain came for us both.
Alone is a place we are destined to be at least once in our lives, if not over and over again. Friends come and go. Lovers love and leave. Even family waxes and wanes–our parents, our siblings, our children. No matter how much we tell ourselves that love is unconditional, the only true source of that unrelenting love is from our maker, whomever or whatever that is–and even that can be debated.
Hence, we often are left destroyed by the withdrawal of love from someone we love.
“I climbed a mountain and I turned around / And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills / ‘Til the landslide brought me down.” [from Landslide lyrics, written by STEVIE NICKS]
Literally, I sit on the side of a mountain right now. I stopped half-way up because these words wouldn’t leave me alone. (Partially true… I also couldn’t catch my breath up this one steep and particularly rocky incline without taking a rest.) Many things I read this week run through my mind; the overall theme: fear of “alone.” I’m familiar with this phobia. I’m generally familiar with fear; fear and I go way back. The underbelly of every emotion that doesn’t seem to serve us well is fear, and my underbelly is soft and white and easily penetrable. I’d make a bet yours is, too, regardless of what you claim, and alone is a big one for many.
Oddly, despite my objections in the past about a former love interest’s annoying independence, I’m out here hiking alone today because I choose to. My partner is off on a special camping trip this weekend. Often, that propels me into seeking ‘me’ time–a chance to be alone. It’s not that I don’t enjoy company because I absolutely do. I’m blessed now to be with someone who actually wants to do things with me–so very blessed. But I am reminded, when I am walking alone, how much I love this, too. I come here sometimes seeking answers, and other times, it’s as if something is calling me. I set off for the mountain top and won’t know for sure until I get there what I will find. Whether I’m submerged in a meditative nothingness of the everythingness around me, or whether I’m rearranging my thoughts ’til they rest easily in my head, alone can be a wonderfully fulfilling and transforming place to be. If you just remove the fear, being alone is not really being alone at all.
Okay now. Time to lay the pen down and finish hiking up this rocky trail. Can’t wait to see what awaits me at the top.
Oh, and about those Ten Commandments, I’d bet if Moses had stuck around a little longer, he might have come down with an eleventh one: THOUGH SHALT NEVER BE ALONE.