By Bryan Guillette
So, I tend to write like I am talking because it’s like I’m talking to you and you are listening, rather than I am just performing a monologue in my own head. It’s like I’m talking to this multitude of people but you are all one face, two ears, and two eyes that I’m speaking and looking into. Also, having a conversation with someone makes it an activity that makes me feel a little less lonely.
On that note…
My life, overall, is glorious in comparison with many others out there. I have never been addicted to anything, never really had money problems, never been in trouble with the law, and have an amazing family and some really great friends I consider to also be my family. But there is a dark side that I rarely ever bring to light because my friends see me as this positive person who they can talk to and rely on to be that light for their darkness. Because of this, I had always kept my troubles tucked away so I didn’t burden anyone with the horrible condition of my mind and heart.
Now, you don’t need to know the long story of my broken heart strings, but I have been single since I was 18 years old, which was nearly 16 years ago. My desire for a relationship has always been there, and my pursuit for one led to behaviors that made me come on too strong, try to come off as the person the other guy wanted me to be, losing any sense of who I really was in the process. And any time I went on a date, a guy would seem to be having a great time, would be flirty, and would tell me to stay in touch so we could get together again. And then... those same men became ghosts. Not only was I single, but loneliness had settled into my heart.
This year, I have experienced more rejection, “ghosting”, being stood up, being canceled on, avoidance, and practically being walked through on the street in the last 6 months than I ever have in my life. Sure, I have friends, but I barely see them because of conflicting schedules. And, since my heart was so full of angst and pain, I withdrew into it and kept my “happy” face on. Underneath the smile, I had finally reached my lowest point: hoping and praying and begging that some kind of higher power would keep me from waking up in the morning. What was so wrong with me that no one would like me or love me? I must have asked myself that question so many times, but in that darkest moment, I truly asked myself and the answer was the truest answer it could ever be: Nothing.
There was and is nothing wrong with me. I’m a great person, I love my family and friends and would do anything for them. I love kids and will find a way to be a dad someday. I love to try new things, sing in the car no matter who sees me because they see me having fun, and I cannot be anyone other than myself. It was overwhelming to see the answer so simply, and it was an amazing feeling. I still get rejected, but it has stopped hurting me. Self-acceptance has made it easier for me to do fun things by myself and reconnect with my friends I had been withdrawing from. Now, I have a true smile every day because of what life throws at me, not in spite of it.
What’s the point, Bryan? This magazine deals heavily with the issues surrounding addiction and abuse. Where’s the addiction? I feel like so many of us rely on the idea that we need someone to be our partner in crime, our workout buddy, our companion for all of life’s adventures. The happiness I saw in the lives of people who achieved this goal…it is something I felt I needed in order to be happy with my own life. I grew addicted to my own desire to be with someone. And as long as I was single and alone, the lack of a companion made me feel lonely. Allowing myself to feel that way was my own self-abuse that messed with how I ate, if I felt like working out, and if I even wanted to bother getting out of bed.
That self-acceptance that came about…it came after the realization that there is nothing wrong with who I am, what I have to offer, and who I could be if I just experience life how I want to on my own. Do I want love, a husband, a family, dog, house, and all the trimmings? Of course, but I have shed the idea that I need all of that. What I have always had and what I will always need is completely in my control: I need me. I’m finally okay with being alone. I’ve chosen it. The desires and adventures will come because I’m not lonely; I’m just going it on my own.
I know there are a lot of people out there who feel alone and invisible some, maybe all, of the time, and there are so many words of wisdom out there from “anonymous” or dead people. It feels like my responsibility, as a survivor of a darkened heart, to share a fresh message of hope.
There is a fine line between being alone and being lonely. That line is called clarity