Alone vs Lonely

Yesterday a friend of mine and I were talking on Facebook Messenger. We chatted a little and he said, “You seem fine.” I told him, “I’m not so sure,” and went on explaining my hermit mode, that’s been going on since early this year. 

And then, I read this article online and not only did it struck a huge chord but it also changed my mind. I felt myself nodding from beginning to end. I already have a book on loneliness in my shopping basket, but I thought I should add this one too. 

I told my friend that this time on my own has enabled me to listen to myself, gather my strengths (and I need them so very much), and figure out what’s been going on with me in terms of mental and physical health. I’ve been reading and writing a lot, making sense of things. I’ve also been more creative and I’m also invested in my education, with my post-grad course. How else would I be able to do this in the middle of the crowd? In the middle of the very very noisy, opinionated and vampire-like crowd? My hermit mode hasn’t been one of self-pity but of self-discovery, self-development and empowerment. I’m convinced I will be able, with the help of my therapists and the support of those closest to me, to change certain attitudes and behaviors. 

When I say I’m like a hermit, it doesn’t mean I’m going to grow a beard (that would be fun) and move many miles away from civilization (I would have to come back to go to dance performances, the movies and eat Thai food or sushi). But I know what it’s like to face the stigma. Like the friend mentioned in the article, I know what it’s like to be eyed with a mix of suspicion, curiosity and pity when I spend a few days away by myself and eat out at restaurants. Some men see a young woman by herself and think they’re easy prey (they’re not, and they most likely wish to remain lost in their own thoughts).

But I’m not going to spend my free time stuck at home just because I don’t have a boyfriend or my holidays didn’t overlap with any of my friends’. Hell no. There’s too much I want to see and visit and learn before disease eats me away. Stigma is in the eye of the beholder. My alone time is productive, rich and peaceful, and I won’t doubt myself and apologize for it. Not anymore.

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Fickle memories and things I need to ask my therapist about

So my friend and I were having dinner and for some reason we started talking about weight. Weight has always been an issue for me, because I’ve always been thin and many people think it’s ok to taunt me about it. No one in my family is overweight, and we’re all those annoying people who eat everything and don’t put on extra pounds. We also tend to lose weight when we’re down or stressed out, unlike other people. Personally, I eat more when I’m anxious and stressed, but everything I eat is burned up by my nervous system.

Apparently though many people think I should conform to their vision of what I should look like, regardless of my genetics and the way my metabolism works. It doesn’t help that it is socially acceptable to come up to a thin person and say, “You’re so thin, did you enter a contest to disappear or something,” (I didn’t make this up, someone actually said it to me once), but if I remarked, “You’re so fat, did you enter a contest to become a whale or something,” then I would be a really mean person. The irony in all this is that I’m not really underweight according to the body mass calculators online. I’m just pear-shaped and people only tend to look at your upper half. 😀

Anyway, as my friend and I were talking, I remembered something rude a mutual friend had once said to me about my weight and mentioned that I was so upset that I didn’t have any reaction to the rude comment.

My friend said, “Oh but you did, I remember you answered in a very dry tone and in a very smart way. [Our mutual friend] was left speechless.”

And I said, “I don’t remember. I believe I froze. I was going through such a hard time at the time and was so sensitive to anything anyone would say to me that I just felt hurt, like I’d been punched breathless.” 

My friend smiled and said, “No, you didn’t freeze. Your voice became cold and you said something like, ‘If weight were easy to control there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to it.’ I thought that was a very smart answer.”

I thought for a second and said, “That sounds like something I would say, yes.”

We proceeded to check if the rest of our memories matched. “Was it at that dinner party at our friend’s hostel?” “Was it in the summer?” “Were there our friends […]?” “Was it before dinner?” They did.

And as I kept thinking about it it slowly came back to me. But it brought up many questions. Why did I just keep in my memory that I felt deeply hurt and misunderstood? Why didn’t I remember that I actually managed to stand up for myself without being rude? Remembering that could have been a great resource in many situations afterwards. Knowing that I can defend myself could have boosted my self-confidence and made me trust myself more. Do I unconsciously want to play the victim? Do I unconsciously go on picking up clues that reinforce my ingrained belief that I’m not good enough and therefore I should feel sorry for myself?

I feel a little disturbed considering this. It’s definitely something I mustn’t forget to talk to my therapist about.