Being alone feels like home. It’s a [neural] pattern that got imprinted early on. Solitude is where I feel I belong. Let me explain in glib victim-speak: According to my mother as an infant I was left alone a lot to my own devices so to speak. Apparently, mother played ego games with me and refused to jump to my cry-calls for she believes in the importance of methodically breaking down the will of a whimsical infant. Supposing that this is indeed what happened I would infer that in the face of the overwhelming emotional pain of the darkness of solitude I resolved to cope with it by relying more on my dreaming mind. When occasionally she appeared to comfort me—timed on her own terms—I felt overexcited [and bewildered I guess]. Engaging mother thus involved anxiety: hence the over-excitement. It became a big deal for me. Alone I’ve found relative peace and equilibrium while engaging and relating with [m]other involved imbalance and ambivalence. This imprinted a pattern in my neural makeup that decades later has determined the trajectory of my social life. Today I seem to compulsively seek solitude and a respite from the company of others. I deal with lots of stress in the realms of friendship and intimacy for I’ve adapted to relate from a state of neurosis there: a state of [hormonal] imbalance and [emotional] ambivalence. Exposure to the attention of others usually triggers a massive neurotic flare up in my psychology. Attention—I surmise—turns me on and overexcites me to the extent that I grew up deprived and starved of it. The chronic observer shuns attention but chronically pines for it—flip flopping between intense bouts of avoidance and indulgence.
Admittedly, this is nothing more but a neat little story that I could comfortably believe and use as an excuse to live love-poor as a recluse rather than lovingly, against the grain of my pain, feeling home everywhere and any time with any one: within the timeless dimension of the present moment. If there happens to be any grain of truth to this unilateral account the narrative most certainly goes back [multiple generations] deep down our family tree and involves an infinite amount of incomprehensible variables. This is where victim-speak falls short. What’s more, these very insights are borne precisely from the pain of the neurotic patterns I inhabit. It is what it is. It’s a given. All the precious pearls drop from the eyes of our mortal wound. Our neurotic pattern is the fountain of true love.
It may ease but it won’t cease. It’s not a tick to be fixed. It’s a given: a peculiar pattern that auto-curbs itself to the extent you move consciously [lovingly] with it.
/Meeting with friends is typically a big deal for me. Intimacy triggers a massive neurotic flare up in my psychology. There is a rush of adrenaline and a spike of cortisol, my body temp drops, my hands go cold, glycogen plummets, and I sweat profusely. I look calm but inside I fidget and feel compelled to show off, to impress, to please. Attention turns me on big time. It’s something chronic (and probably trauma-induced). When my perception is that I capture the imagination of someone and I feel felt and seen, I lose poise and I get overexcited. I proceed to indulge in showing off. It feels like getting a fix. Especially when someone is a partner in all this, i.e. their neurotic pattern is to be impressed upon, then the insane dance of the ’dumper’ and the ’dumpee’ ensues.
Given that social interactions in general are either fear- or love based when you experience a kind of nervous buzz taking over you can be certain that you are in a mode of fear-based behavior. Love based engagements are free of agitation and full of easeful joy.
The process of harmonization goes hand in hand with the development of sensitivity. If you start listening, for instance, to the nutritional needs and (pseudo)allergic reactions of your body you’ll inevitably become more sensitive to foods. The body is a powerful probe. Use it with ease. Or else… you’ll miss the mark. (As in: alignment gone awry. Srsly.)
Do you still feel (the feeling of feeling) terrified when your symptoms flare up? Do you still think there is a (right) way to (do things to) avoid the next episode that is already stalking you?
Are you still fixated on resolving your issues and escaping your symptoms once and for all? Are you still fixated on doing it the right way? Are you still working on the project of transcending the broken version of your self (that is at the mercy of the stressor-ridden contingency called its environment)?
Do you still buy into the idea that it’s not as safe over there as it is over here? Or, in other words, that the world is over there and you are over here?
Knowing what I know about stress metabolism & starvation induced hormonal imbalance the childhood memories of regularly preying on (parts of) the sandwiches of my classmates at primary and secondary school and shouting sometimes at my parents at home in the summer before lunch or dinner (what occasionally my mother still fondly repeats to this day): Do you want me to starve to death?—all these things are seen in quite a different light now. In retrospect, I can see how (mostly subconscioulsy and perhaps genetically biased) I’ve often felt overwhelmed and threatened by hunger—which, I guess, explains why I tend to be so compulsively gluttonous (not unlike my father) where the given presence of certain foods drives me to eat in (anxiety-driven) excess of my digestive capacity instead of being drawn to certain foods according to the given demands of my appetite. Now I also understand, incidentally, why I was so fascinated by the fact that my cousin never felt inclined at all to eat up all the goodies they usually stored in their lavishly stocked pantry. When I was attending university my eating habits were extremely poor. For fear of burdening my parents’ humble budget I asked for minimal money to cover my costs and I didn’t take on any jobs either, which resulted in me barely eating anything besides the cheapest of rolls and sometimes the left-overs from my friends’ meals. Looking back, it’s clear that I was practically starving myself (with the worst type of starches and fats at that), all of which, furthermore, was complemented by the intense (emotional) stresses of clueless intellectual and romantic pursuits.
Long story short, for decades I was busy setting up a degenerative, catabolic metabolism—because we inherit and learn lots of distinguishing beliefs at home and lots of fancy data in school but are totally left in the dark regarding basic stuff like body awareness, (mindless) mindfulness, the nature of energetic systems and stress. Today, after a couple of years of seeking and tweaking the perfect diet, I feel resolved to relax into the truth of my appetite, no longer hiding from my symptoms. There is nothing to (re)solve here but everything to relish. Abundance abounds.
Engaging people used to take a lot out of me. When the chemistry was off it may have been less of an issue I guess but when it was on my mind has just flown off the handle. Vibing with someone has typically left me thoroughly depleted. And there is still definitely something neurotic about the way I engage others. If I happen to be graced by unadulterated attention (especially when it is given by someone I fancy) it tends to trigger an outright inflammation of my mind: I lose my poise and end up jittery with excitement, shaking—if it’s a colder season literally shaking—with cortisol and adrenaline coursing through my veins. I turn into a subdued kind of a maniac. Clearly, I seem to have a hard time handling the attention I get: in response to it all my repressed elation erupt and drive me quite beside myself. Like a junkie finally getting his fix I get so intoxicated by the energy (that gets liberated when I allow myself to finally let go) that it becomes almost toxic to me. To recover I have to pro-actively do grounding practices like walking, shaking my limbs out, massaging my feet, singing and humming to myself, breathing in a protracted and gaggy manner, ’’speaking the language of the stars’’, write passages (like this one), seek solitude and just let the madness ripple through. I got to relax and trace the ways my body moves and expresses itself on its own accord as minimally intercepted by the head as possible. As you can imagine, on school trips I was the kind of boy who would stay up all night if anyone else was willing to do that with me. I had no limits if it came to the ecstasy of shared time. My poor ex, she had no idea what she was in for 😉
Was I neglected too much as a child? Did my mother’s strategy to let me cry it out alone at night backfire a little bit? Who knows. And it doesn’t matter either. What matters it that I take notice now.
But let me redeem and package this personal stuff in some informative ’take-away’ way: What’s good for you becomes less of a good thing when you learn that you have to kind of deny it to yourself (in order to preempt it being denied to you). Actually, it’s not that hard to see the parallels to the twisted psychology of restrictive dieting and cravings. A recurring sense of uncertainty about availability (of food or attention) trains a nervous system to adopt a neurotic (and compulsive) scarcity mindset […which, I think, is something quite natural, though, each one of us experiences some form of deprivation from the get-go; the difference lies more in how it gets to unravel I guess…]