“The joy of being alone is not in the absence of others, but in the presence of me”
Billy Connolly (I think)
In the past I have often felt that I could only find genuine comfort in a dark, quiet room, alone with my thoughts, my depression, my happiness and my ideas. I would often retreat to my house; or my room before I had my own place, and I would close my door, turn off my lights and just sit quietly, alone.
I found a friend in solitude. The black dog would stay away during those times. I often thought he would only come out to taunt me when he had an audience. The black dog was a showman, he enjoyed watching my skin crawl, but he enjoyed it most of all when I was in a room full of people from whom I couldn’t escape. At a party, at school, at work or at home; he would appear and begin his clawing, ripping at my soul and allowing the guilt to pore from my veins as a sweet sickly sweat.
However, when I was alone he would usually stay away. Maybe he felt sorry for me or maybe he was just conserving his energy for when he could inflict the most damage.
And so I found myself retreating to the quiet, sometime just for hours but often for days. People would try and contact me, but my phone would always be turned off (so I could pretend they weren’t). And I would ride it out, whatever ‘it’ was at that time; woman, work, drugs, alcohol, boredom, friends or their lack of. I was forced into solitude by the black dog and the lack of positive stimuli around me. Solitude was never my friend, just another addiction to distract me from an ugly reality.
Those early adult experiences seeped over into the present. And so until recently I believed that’s where my happiness was; in solitude, in loneliness, in the dark and in the silence.
When I first read the Billy Connolly quote above (I think) I believed it spoke to me directly. What I have come to realise in recent months and maybe years is that for me, the joy of being alone is not in the presence of me but actually in the absence of others. It was my intolerance of certain people that made me seek solitude. It was my own paranoia that made me believe the people around me where staring, judging and whispering stories of my demise.
Now that I am aware enough to know this, I find myself much more likely to be surrounded by people who increase my happiness instead of those who make me miserable.
So now solitude has become my enemy, the black dog has found his powers diminished when I am in the company of others. I can ignore him and enjoy their conversation, their energy, their jokes and their ideas. He is much more powerful now when I am alone. He uses my friends and my wife against me:
You’re going to lose them all one day Lee, they’re going to see through you, get bored of you, stop calling, stop listening and you will be alone with me again.
The black fucking dog.