Apparently solitary confinement causes more psychological damage than any other form of punishment. Guys in prison go into the hole, kicking and screaming and apologizing–“No, not the hole. I’m sorry. please…” Don’t put me in there alone.
To ostracise a person is often a higher form of punishment than death. Excommunication from the church or community, another intimidating prospect.
Neglect is one of the worst faces of poor parenting, or animal husbandry.
…a “time out” in the corner for a small child.
What is it about being by oneself that is so intimidating, so insufferable?
I know half a dozen women who routinely go out “trolling for boyfriends.” The “I need to be married and settled down” fever presents itself in incessant chatter and self-scrutiny (Am I pretty enough? Interesting enough?).
Guys start settling down much later, “As soon as they wake up one day and realize they don’t have anyone to play X-Box with,” quipped Alexis. All their buddies have gotten married.
When asked, “Would you rather be in a bad relationship? Or totally alone?” What would you answer?
As or yours truly: a bad relationship.
It’s true. Loneliness is insufferable, but you cannot, for the life of you, understand why.
Freedom to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Yeah… It all comes at a cost. You are fundamentally alone.
Support groups, family members, a loved one…they are distant. In order to fill the void, people engage in bizarre behaviours. You are no exception.
You’re met some unusual people during your travels. There was Katja, your hostess in Berlin that admitted to you that she had been caring for up to 36 adult rats for over five years, letting them run around her apartment. She cooked them all two organic meals per day, crooned to them, cleaned up after them. It’s like having 36 small dogs. She showed you photos of them, referred to each one by name and personality. When finally the last of them died off (she kept their bodies in the freezer!), she decided to take in couch surfers. Boy oh boy, you were one of the first!
There was Paul, in Spain. A Polish trucker who plucked you from the side of the road on a freezing morning and drove you for over eight hours. He spoke no English, but seemed content just to have you with him in the cab. And at last, at the end of the ride, at a giant truck stop, you and Alexis were making your way to leave the cab, descend into a veritable dark and stormy (and freezing) night, and Paul implored you, “Don’t leave!” reaching for you across the cab before he caught himself, embarrassed. You said you would see him in the truck stop the following morning, but he never surfaced. He never left his truck. You’re pretty sure he nursed his bottle of vodka.
And then there’s you. You fill that void with extremes in experience. Maybe this explains your hair-brained idea to snowshoe across the Laplands.
Your mission on this trip: learn to love your own company.