I, alone

My ideal.

I am at my happiest when I am alone.

As a child, I often had no choice in the matter. My sister was years older than me, and there weren’t many opportunities to play with other children. I learned to play by myself and, in time, learned to enjoy it.

Then my mother died.

My mother was my best friend, my only friend, really. She was literally my world, and my world died with her. I was more alone than I had ever been in my short life.

My sister left around that time. I think. The death of my mother had far-reaching ramifications. One of them was profound memory loss. 

A good example: The other day, I was fondly remembering an evening near Christmas when I was perhaps six or seven. That would have been a year or two before my mother’s death.

My father had purchased the NES game Gumshoe for us. The lights were turned off in the living room. It was just me, my mother, and my father, enjoying this simple moment.

Just the three of us.

It occurred to me at that point that I didn’t know why my sister wasn’t with us. Then it occurred to me that she wasn’t even living with us. That apartment only had two bedrooms. And that’s the thing of it, I have no idea why she wasn’t living with us. I can’t remember.

The circumstances in which I grew up didn’t leave me with a strong drive to remember, anyway. What I do remember tends to be rough patches of pain and anxiety in a sea of mediocrity. My brightest memories are the happiest, and the fewest.

Most of those memories were of me alone.

We moved a lot when I was a child. I went to seven different schools, one of which was halfway across the country, and only for half a year. What does this mean? Well, I had trouble making friends.

The deck was already stacked against me. I went to one school for two years, the next for one year. The next, I managed to stay in for four years, but that was three new sets of kids in three years for me. My mother also died when I was in third grade.

I became very introverted after my mother died. What few friends I managed to make in elementary school never fully connected with me. I wouldn’t let them. They were to be held at arm’s length, enjoyed only at school, forgotten for the weekend.

I went to a 7-12 high school after that elementary school. It was far too crowded and overwhelming for me. I struggled not just to maintain my grades, but my sanity. I acted out frequently that year, not knowing any other way to express myself.

For eighth grade, I ended up in a middle school halfway across the country. The move ended up a failed experiment, but that semester was a nightmare for me. Not only was I new to the school, I was new to the state.

I was immediately picked on and bullied. I was awkward, scared, quiet. Threats were made, lunches stolen. I was as isolated as I ever was in school. It was the first time I considered running away just to escape the terror.

Ultimately it was decided we were moving back home. I was elated. I told one kid that I was moving back home and he wouldn’t see me after Christmas break. He said he’d beat me up if I was lying.

The second semester was spent at a middle school back home. I made a couple of friendships there that I maintained into high school. I picked up a couple more friends during my high school years, but again, they were held at arm’s length.

The one exception was a kid named Bill. We stayed in touch during summer break and occasionally hung out. Shortly after we graduated, he went to college the next state over. I never saw him again.

That was the final fracture, I think. I never had interest in having friends again after that. The internet was a thing by then, and I had “friends” online. Even that eventually came to be too much.

Fast-forward through life, forged and failed relationships, marriages, children, etc. I write a book. “They” say you need to have a social media presence to sell a book.

Shit.

I have never had a Facebook account, and I never will. I chose Twitter. At least my interactions could be limited to a few sentences. If I didn’t want to continue talking to someone, I could just stop talking.

That was perfect… except for the fact that being on social media does dick-all for selling books and I was still an introverted mess. The writing community on Twitter is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of wonderful, supportive people on there.

There were folks that bolstered me for a good long time. They told me I was good, that I was doing good for others as well. I believe they meant what they said. I will be forever grateful for their kind words.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m an introvert.

Twitter was always a struggle for me. I had to make connections. The semi-anonymity helped immensely, but I became increasingly “real” the longer I stayed on the website.

There were still plenty of assholes to go around, too. Try as I might, it was hard to shrug off the sharp words of others. I have no sense of self-worth to begin with. It doesn’t take much to push me into a negative space.

So, despite having a good rapport with many people on Twitter, it became increasingly difficult for me to continue on. I felt like I was getting too close to those around me. I was questioning everything I said and did. I couldn’t just let things go.

Suddenly, it was eighth grade all over again.

I couldn’t run away then. I could now, and I did. I’m not afraid to admit it. My warped mind is just not designed to deal with society. I am happiest when I am alone.

So now I am.

There is my wife, and my children. That is all I can take. I love all three of them dearly. I still feel a certain measure of guilty relief when everyone has gone to bed.

This world has bloodied me. This world has trained me to enjoy being alone. This world has won. I prefer a dearth of human contact.

I, alone.