“Keep treating people like that”, she told me, “and you’ll end up alone”. She slammed the door and disappeared from my life. I should have felt bad, I suppose. I didn’t. I just felt empty and relieved. I just sat on my porch, scotch in hand, and listened to the rain pound at the tin roof.


A quote by my beloved Stephen King came to mind.

“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.”

I should have felt bad, I suppose. She certainly expected me to.

“Lady”, I’d like to tell her, “what do you think I am all this time, if not alone?”

Of course, I told her nothing. She was hardly worth talking to when present, much less when away. She had some useful merits, I have to give her that. Being a good listener – or talker, for that matter – was never one of them.

I have some useful merits too. Understanding loneliness is one of them, I guess. Enough to know that being with someone doesn’t necessarily shield you from it. And enough to know that being alone does not necessarily mean you’re lonely.

That’s what I dislike about most people, see. They’re so afraid of feeling lonely they hardly ever learn how to be alone. They prefer to surround themselves with crowds of friends, admirers and lovers for no other reason than to maintain the illusion that they’re not alone. They learn to fake interest and affection for others only to indebt them, to make them feel obliged to offer faux interest and affection – “friendship” or “love” – back.

Just like an old business transaction. An unspoken contract. “I’ll be a friend to you, I’ll call you to talk shop and ask about your day and feign interest in your problems. In return, you’re obliged to be there for me, if only just so that I do not have to feel alone, lonely or forsaken”.

But that’s the thing with unspoken contracts; rarely do both sides realize the actual terms they agree to – or even the fact that they enter some kind of obligatory relationship at all.

But still, that’s what people do.

And god forbid you question their line of thought or call them on their bullshit. They’re so caught up in this social illusion that they’re balls-deep in denial. They’ll just be confused and offended, dub you strange, antisocial, selfish, a taker, a recluse, a misanthrope to be avoided at all costs.

Well, fuck them. To me, they’re just noise.

If I am to be surrounded by people who neither understand me nor care to try seeing an inch beyond their own fragile egos and insecurities, I might as well be alone. They can do nothing to alleviate my loneliness, so why should I endure their (self) delusion of shallow friendship and affection?

No. I choose not to. I choose to dub this seclusion my “solitude”, because “loneliness” has a sad stigma to it that does not reflect my state of mind.

Do not misunderstand me. I love people, I love their company, as long as it’s real and authentic. Spare me the droves of phony friends and acquaintances, spare me the BFFs that have an expiration date. Spare me the lovers who give, only to be able to demand that they’re given in turn.

“At least explain to me why”, they say, feeling monstrously betrayed. But there was no cruelty, no betrayal, no oathbreaking; because there was never an oath to begin with. No deal, no contract, spoken or not, no nothing.

I’d ask them to harbor no hard feelings towards me, explain to them it’s nothing personal, they’re just not… not real enough for me. But would they understand?

And that’s why I leave them back, like I’d leave back old clothes I’ve outgrown. Like old things that are of no use to me anymore. I have no ill will against them, and no demand that they’ll harbor no hard feeling against me.

It may sound cruel, I know, but it’s honest. And even in that warped little world of self-delusion, that should be worth something, shouldn’t it?

Author: Chris Wilkins

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