I've always enjoyed traveling solo, and I'm sure I'll write about it one day, but today I want to explore being alone. Spending time by oneself.
The past couple of months I have deliberately spent as much time as I can being by myself. Alone. Even when I feel the nagging in my bones and the voices in my head, urging me to go out and be with people just so I have other human bodies and voices to drown out mine.
Table for one?
I'm not a stranger to eating or going to watch a movie alone. However I had never gone out partying alone, so off I went. In Sevilla, I would go from one bar to another alone, drinking more beer than I have ever drunk before. I would spend time alone in my tiny flat accompanied only by music and the chorus in my head. In Aranda de Duero, long solo walks were in order.
*Side note: I tip my hat off in respect to all the people who strive to bring music into the world. Your artistry is much appreciated. How would we feel deeply without it?
To be accompanied only by your own thoughts (and demons) is quite the trip. Perhaps the most intense trip I've ever taken - both travel wise and drug wise. I understand why we numb, because being with us is exhausting.
I can't speak about others, but my first thought about myself was, "Oh dear girl, why can't you shut up?" My inner self can be a witchy, bitchy, monkey, Eeyore like donkey hybrid of some sort - I've dubbed her Cruella. Spending time with this version of myself I can see how she sometimes gets the reins to my life. She is cunning and manipulative and it's hard not to let her take charge once in a while. Even on my good days, she is there whispering to every version of myself, making sure I don't get too far off the ground. Her voice mingles with all the other voices of 'good intentions' by the people in my life, creating chaos.
Things these voices are responsible for:
- Not speaking my mind, because I don't want to create a 'scene' and also women who do are such 'bitchy' women (thanks Asian upbringing).
- Intense neediness.
- I'm not 'enough'.
- Nobody likes me.
- I'm not cool enough.
- I'm too intense. I should tone it down.
- My temper will drive everyone away.
- I'm turning into my father.
- I must smile or else my resting bitch face will scare people away.
- I must be nice at all times or people will not like me.
- The 'real' me is horrid. I must show no one. I must 'put on a show'.
- Boys don't like me, I must be more sexual. (Keyword, boys)
- My sexuality is so intense, I should tone it down, I'm a slut.
- Everyone is having fun without me.
- No one wants to be my friend.
- Gosh I'm so damn fat.
- Look at my fat face.
- My nose is too big, my eyes too small. It needs to be the other way around!
- And on and on.
In Cruella's version of me, I am a pathetic, trembly, puddle of nothing. Only as good as someone's opinion of me. Every such thought creates a reactionary action. Looking back I can see what was propelling my life trajectory. If these are the thoughts bouncing about in my head, no wonder I did the things that I did - good or bad.
This isn't a tale of magic
I'm not writing to say I've got it all under control now. All loved up! Though some things have changed. For one, I'm allowing myself to be more quiet these days. To not have to be the one to fill in all the gaps in the conversation, to be the 'life of the party'. I'm giving myself permission not to smile or laugh. I'm aware when I am pleasing people and it comes from a place of wanting to do something nice for that person; and if it doesn't I'm aware I'm doing it to be liked.
I guess the biggest difference is awareness. It's not like I've stopped magically doing certain things - how can I if I've been doing them for so many years? - but I am aware of why I am doing so. My actions are less reactionary. I stop and pause for a moment. Sometimes I do it anyway, other times I change my decision.
Life is still the same - mostly
To be fair I've only been at this for a couple of months, most of which I spent in agony in my own head. But there are subtle changes in my being. I am content by myself. I want to clothe by body in things that are beautiful - and I don't buy clothes for my 'future perfect body' but for my current perfect body. I am genuinely happy. I get sad too, but I don't descend into self blame, pity or hatred.
What I did
What I did to get here is complex, but one thing I did do was to repeat to myself:
[insert name] there is absolutely nothing you can do, say, think, be, react, not react, act, that will make me stop loving you. I love every version of you, especially the bits you think are horrid, the sad, needy, loud, lonely, pathetic, sexual, happy, cheerful, kind - all versions of you. I love you no matter what. I'll never let you down. No one will ever change my mind. I will always have your back. Trust me. I will always, forever love you. I love you.
In moments of doubt when Cruella comes to the surface and my normal reaction is to go into self-hate, I remember my promise, I think, "Hello Cruella, I love you. So be who you are, I will love you still, nothing you can do will make me stop loving you."
How do you feel bad when you are heard? When you are accepted and understood and no matter how horribly you behave, you are still loved? And the kicker is that it is 'me' doing all that loving, not an outside person. And I will never leave me. So I will never stop loving myself.