Just Me§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: October 27, 2007; revised: April 24, 2018; readers in past month: 637

Milan Rooftops
Duomo & Galeria

Why is it that we define ourselves so much in relation to others? Why are relationships so important to our happiness? Why cannot we just be ourselves and still be happy, be content? Now that I have become alone again, I feel disconnected. This is in line with my feelings of displacement that have stemmed from the hurricane, but the similiarity of patterns do not please me. Certainly, by definition one is disconnected who is not connected. However, why must one be connected, have a sense of connection? I want to feel normal being me and only elated to be with someone I love. I don’t want to feel neglected, malnourished when alone. Spiritual people might say that this is the nature of life and love. Yes, but I would argue that I’m not suggesting being disconnected from God. We should be able to be alone and feel love. The monastic life shows this. Our theology that tells us that we can find God and love within ourselves comes from the abbas and the ammas. So I say again, why do I feel like a fellow who is missing certain nutrients from his diet just because I am without a girlfriend? Why can’t my system produce what it needs from normal daily life without external infusions?

It seems to me that it’s a learned behavior to either depend or not depend on others for a feeling of wholeness. I must learn to be happy on my own. I’ve explored this before, I know, and I’ve made excellent progress in this area over the last couple of years or more. Nevertheless, I have more to learn. Living life without a plot is one thing, but I think I need my life to be an adventure all the same. I need for it to be filled with not only goals, but also twists and turns that last more than a day and go beyond the hunt for a woman or the presence of one. This is what I must learn. I cannot always be obsessed with getting a woman and then become consumed with how to be free of one. What a terrible pair of choices, a dreadful way to life. Being with a woman should bring about warm feelings; sharing my life with someone else should be a joy. Instead, it always seems to be a struggle.

Yes, I want to be with a woman. But I don’t want to give up on myself. Ah, there’s the rub, isn’t it? After decades of feeling that my mother had abandoned me by selling me out to my step-father, by ditching any concerns for my happiness and wants in lieu of her spouse’s needs, underneath it all is now my concern for not doing the same to myself. Is this my main focus? Am I refusing to do what has been done to me by her? I think that’s valid. My happiness is important to me and since I have not been able to rely on anyone else to watch out for it, I am perhaps overly protective of it. I don’t mind relinquishing some happiness for the benefit of someone I love. However, I want it to be my choice and I want the woman I am with to care about my feelings and wants in exchange for my sacrifices to her. My ex-wife didn’t seem to be too concerned for my wants (e.g., she didn’t want me to go back to college or to change careers to a field about which I was passionate). The ex-compagna was selfish and often trampled on my feelings. She only showed interest in them to the extent that doing so made her feel good. The ex-girlfriend, though, was very caring and considerate of me: she had all of the rest beat on this. Still, I wasn’t happy in the relationship and even if she wanted me to be so, if it couldn’t happen with her, then for me to say that my happiness is totally unimportant as long as her need to continue in the relationship is satisfied, that would be following my mother’s pattern with her husband with regards to herself and to her children. That’s a pattern I cannot follow. This is perhaps the core or source of my split. Knowing that this is why I left, now that I journal on it and consider it, some how frees me from some of the sense of loss, of the disconnectedness. I feel a bit stronger in knowing this.