There has always been this weird thing about me, but I am feeling it so much more clearly in my golden years. It’s the dual part of me that is part loner, part socialite. It’s the oddest thing and at times creates great conflict within me.
Sometimes one of these personas claws to the front and that will be the cloak I may wear for a while. If it’s the loner woman, then I feel very at odds if I’m in large groups for some reason. No-one would really notice this, because I always had a pretty good way of hiding this fact. But I would feel myself draw in on myself, sort of like a movie character fading out of scene. I was there, but not really.
When I’m feeling the opposite, then I literally can’t stand being by myself anymore. I start hunting for connections of all sorts: one on one or larger. My personality becomes bigger than life and when I’m in a group I seem to draw people to me. I once took a test of “How Charismatic Are You” and I scored off the charts. And a friend once told me I do this “Marilyn Monroe” thing where I just turned on the sex appeal-just like a switch. I believe that’s this part of my dual personality.
These two sides clash and so it becomes hard for others to know who they are dealing with at times. Most think I’m warm and friendly. It’s the side I try to put forward. But I really tend to see myself as very comfortable alone, and sometimes even preferring it. It may come from being raised an only child–and a latch-key kid at that! I spent many, many hours with nothing but my imagination for a companion.
As I get older, it get scarier to think about living alone the rest of my life. I have many friends all over the country. I make friends easily and keep them. Talking to strangers is something I’ve always done, maybe because I grew up in New York City where personal space is much closer than New England where I live now. It’s harder to make friends here I find. And definitely harder to find intimacy. Or maybe it’s me? Maybe my need to be alone so much is detected and can’t be incorporated into a relationship?
I would think by middle age most people would need lots of personal time and space? This doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. I’ve learned how to balance my social desires and my “I vant to be alone” moments much better than years past. It used to be that I might shut down or close people out because these times crept up on me. But now I realize that my need for internal quiet is simply a necessity for me and I can identify them maturely.
In analyzing myself (which I do ad nauseam), I could link the fact that I was abandoned by my birth mother quite young to the fact that I learned to be a loner at an early age. It was a survival technique I suppose. And yet I also had to learn to be social in order to survive within the environment where I was left so people would care for me. So this constant internal juxtaposition has always been at play.
I’m currently in a place, as summer reaches its apex and we plummet towards fall then winter, where I don’t want to be lonely during the cold days. So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and find a community and make some new friends…hopefully. I’m going back to the Unitarian Universalist Church in a nearby town to see if I can stir up anything. I used to go there years ago, and was a member of a UU church when I lived in Upstate NY. They are welcoming, liberal and socially active. And that’s the other thing: I want to be more socially active. Time to walk my talk more.
So, no more sitting around weekends feeling sorry for my lonely self. Time to take this charismatic personality and step out into the big world (or small town) and say “here I am!” Hopefully the other self won’t come creeping around and try to steal the show while I’m filling my dance card.