The Inner Landscape

What We Need

We need a few things from the store.

As the weather grows warm, afterschool ramen loses popularity, and Snowman puts in a request for cold cuts. The dogs have worked their way through the little bags of food I bought the other day, thinking Pure Luck would buy a big one when he got home. We are out of the special trash bags without which City By the Sea will not collect our garbage. If you asked the children you would get a longer list of desired items not to be found in refrigerator or cupboard. I sent Snowman to 7-11 today for laundry detergent.

Of course that is only a list of ordinary things a family needs.

My friend, Linda, shared a question about the idea that sometimes what we fear is what we need.

I need a fair amount of human interaction. I like to talk on the phone, or be with people, or check my e-mail or have lunch out somewhere. Sometimes I positively need to touch base with someone, as if it’s the only way I know I exist. I wish I could say I have evolved past that point, but perhaps it’s progress to be conscious of the need.

I’m afraid to be alone, you see. I imagine that is not an unusual feeling for an extrovert with an abandonment complex. But it’s odd, because after a day spent doing all those things I listed above, I feel exhausted, drained, overwhelmed, ready for a monastery where the inhabitants have taken a vow of silence. Give me a box of sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Soft Lead Pencils and a pad of paper or a notebook and send me into the woods, I think, or let me sit by the lake.

But, really, I manage to avoid those opportunities. On retreats, I seek out the other extroverts and talk instead of sitting quietly. I pray on the fly, I write best in the midst of distractions (or so I think), and as the time of being apart from my husband has stretched longer than originally planned, I feel myself fragmenting. The brave effort to manage all things well usually runs out of steam when his return is in sight.

It has been the work of the last decade, the years since my divorce from The Father of My Children, to learn to be alone, but on some deep level I still fear it the way a baby of a certain age fears being left alone forever when her mother leaves the room.

I think the motif of basic insecurity–and by basic I mean essential, something so deep as to be at my root–is my story to live over and over in this life, to revisit time and time again, in memories and in the present. Somewhere there is a balance to be found between being alone and being actively engaged in relationship; perhaps it’s possible they may exist alongside one another rather than excluding each other’s possibility.

So, to answer Linda’s question, I fear being alone, so I suppose I need a little more of it.

18 thoughts on “What We Need”

  1. Wow, what a thoughtful, self-aware post. I’m afraid to ask myself, “What are you afraid of?” What does that say about me?

  2. I echo phantom scribbler- brave post- interestingly I operate the opposite way round and am currently struggling with the fact that I need to go out to a meeting, when I’d rather stay home alone! 🙂
    (o)

  3. an extrovert with an abandonment complex.
    ouch
    it’s like you looked into my heart/ soul/ spirit
    rejection is so hard for me. Time alone isn’t so bad – but feeling lonely is. I think that’s why being in England was a tonic for me last week – so easy to pick up conversation with anyone – unlike in finland where people are quieter, stoic and there are language and cultural barriers even now. Sigh
    Thanks for making me say OUCH and think a lot. You’re good at that you know 🙂 and I value your friendship.

  4. First, it is so brave of you to look this in the face. You’re my hero.
    Second, isn’t it great that our fears are not all the same? I would rather cut my own hair than go someplace with lots of people. I think I could happily be a hermit.
    I’m glad we are all different and called to serve as we are.

  5. You are brave. You are great company and I could listen to you all day long.
    Thinking of you and happy to know someone else has to go to the Quik Stop for basics.

  6. Brrrrr….facing our demons is such a scary thing to do, and you’ve done so with huge courage. The odd thing is that, for me, being alone is every bit as terrifying – but I really love and value intentional, short term alone ness…There are other terrors, though.
    I’m glad I have friends like you to share them with xx

  7. Songbird–thank you for what you’ve written. Part of the challenge for me with my fears is keeping a sense of proportion–not giving them more power than they deserve, while not ignoring them either. It keeps coming back to the fruits of the vine. Your welcome to me as a “new kid on the block,” the beauty of so many of your entries, your sense of humor seem to me to be very lovely fruit. Your light shines…

  8. Even though I am an introvert I used to be afraid of being alone. Now not so much. Balance is the key. Enough alone time and enough people time. I appreciate your thoughtful reflection.

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