The sting of social isolation can be a little more barbed at some times than it is at others. While I am often most comfortable when I'm alone with my thoughts, lately I have been feeling a real emptiness when I look left and right and see no one. Don't get me wrong. There are people all around me. I have wonderful kids who give my life meaning, great relations with my coworkers, and even an ex-wife with whom I get along very well. But there are certain roles that can only be filled by certain kinds of people, and the empty places in my life have been increasingly on my mind.
This is partially of my own construction, although I would hesitate to say that it has been a willing construction. It is more the sort of thing I've done as a defense of sorts. I am responsible for these two boys of mine, and they rely on my attention quite a bit. I adore them more than I could ever adore anything else. Anytime I have attempted to build a life for myself outside of my children and my job, things have gone off the rails for me. It has become a major distraction, and the areas of my life I care about most have suffered.
My default state has always been one of being alone. Left to my own devices, I do not seek companionship. This is not because I don't want it, but because it doesn't come naturally to me. It is a true effort to seek out and form relationships of any kind with other people. It requires time, energy, attention, and focus. When I devote those resources toward forming relationships, I take them away from other places, and those other places (home, work) are the ones that need the most attention, especially the home. I've generally been able to live with this.
Well, now it's getting harder.
Now I'm starting to see some negative impact of my complete lack of a social life. The emptiness I am feeling in one area of my life is affecting how I feel at unrelated times. As someone who has spent a good deal of time thinking about the human mind, this isn't surprising to me. An imbalance in life like the one I have isn't really mentally healthy. But I've been trying to sneak by like this for as long as possible.
My old friends are mostly all busy with their own lives now. Everyone is married or in a relationship and doesn't have a lot of time to get together. And, to be honest, I really have no idea how to make new friends at my age. When I was younger, there seemed to be so much time. Friends could get together on a whim, and there could always be people around. Now that I'm in my forties, the only way to meet people is through some kind of structured program like online dating or meetup or something like that. I suppose I could find a nice meetup group or something, but I find myself coming back to the issue of time and energy.
I find myself wishing for some kind of romantic partner as well, even though the last time I tried to make that happen, a few months ago, it just didn't work out. Again, time and energy. But if this frustration and emptiness keeps clawing at me from inside, it's going to reach some breaking point where I just need to do something. I'm not there yet, but I can see it coming.
I have a lot to think about.