Edge of Discomfort

k-bigpicWe are born helpless and completely dependent on others to stay alive. From a lack of love and nurturing many never overcome this need to be taken care of. Such people grow up with a fear of being alone that can be crippling.

For those of us with childhoods spent in dysfunction homes, by adulthood the belief was we had a decent handle on what we wanted and didn’t want; what we liked and don’t liked. But the unacknowledged under-pining was a feeling of incompleteness especially when we’re alone. Life can feel barely worth living by one’s self. We needed someone to “complete us”, if you will.

The problem is that we don’t talk about being alone. We avoid the conversation as if aloneness were vaguely shameful and – hopefully – a temporary state of affairs before we can be subsumed into relationships again. Rather than applaud other people for their ability to be alone, we feel sorry for them. We assure them that – sooner or later – relationships will come.

A baby with an attuned, attentive a parent gradually internalizes the presence of that parent, no longer needing him or her to be physically present for the baby to know that it’s not forgotten and, in that sense, not alone (Winnicott 1958). The theory goes that with enough of this early experience, a child is likely to grow up to be comfortable with his or her own company. Nick Luxmoore, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/young-people-close/201305/daring-be-alone

There lies the root of many of our adult problems with love and relationships. We don’t recognize the conditioning that began as a baby’s unfulfilled need to be loved, to be cared for, to be liked, to be admired and so on is the root of our incompleteness and inability to be alone. This merry-go-round is one of the reasons for so much wide-spread discontent in under loved children.

Success is only significant when compared to failure and without knowledge of both neither is particularly meaningful. If a person does not have the confidence of finding their way when lost, they will never truly know how to find their way. Each polar opposite experienced widens a person and makes him or her more able to handle both. If a person is unhappy alone, he or she will be just as discontented in the company of another.

Slowly learning to be by myself felt as if it was going to kill me at first. How well I remember my first “Thanksgiving for one” and the martyred feelings I had at the time. Now I am grateful to be able to look back and see I learned a lot from that experience and others like it that taught me to be content in my own company (at least most of the time!).

It’s on the edge of discomfort
where the magic happens.
panic turns to a pleasant,
high and you know you
can tackle the world.
Kirsten Stubbs