Keep Me Company But Leave Me Alone

                                                             by Sylvain Richard 

An exploration of the dichotomy (a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups, entities, concepts or desires) of those, who on one side desperately seek the company of others while on the other, lead a private,  almost  secluded life. For the sake of clarity and consistency ‘we/us’ will refer to those who possibly may have this dichotomy and ‘they/them” to those who do not. Also, it can be associated with aspergers syndrome (see below): for a partial list of famous people suspected of having this social disorder – others not listed could include Glenn Gould, Syd Barrett and Michael Jackson.) Some of the more common characteristics are obsessive compulsive behaviors, depression, social isolation, intense passions and eccentricities. Often our obsessions with detail and perfectionist approach to a task at hand leads to neglect or even at best, a difficulty in taking care of vital areas of life such as health, hygiene, appearance and our dwellings and even family, furthering our social isolation. Also there is a tendency to make choices in our lifestyles, areas of frequentation and those we associate with that can put us out of -- or on the edges of -- mainstream society. To phrase this metaphorically it is as if we begin hiking with a group but along the way, we become intrigued with a particular plant only to find that our group has gone on (an real-life example would be, as explored in the Japanese 2008 film “Left Handed” by  director Laurence Thrush about a teenage boy who locks himself in his bedroom -- hikokomon (self-incarceration) for 18 months – a situation that can set one back relationally much more than just the years of adolescence) without us and now we are all alone lost in the wilderness of life. Many of us engage in areas of society that are often mutually exclusive,  for example church versus entertainment. To us it is all the same thus,  our actions or conversations can offend. And if this occurs often in our youth we withdraw into ourselves (highly introverted) and develop a low level of self esteem due to an extreme fear of rejection. After all it ‘has happened’ so why take a chance?
When we are in social situations we feel a sense of discomfort, a bit of dread, even loneliness and a desire to escape, yet when we do find ourselves alone(the phone doesn`t ring, no emails come in etc), the ‘pain’ can be so excruciating that we seek relief from it in somewhat self-destructive means -- self medication, the company of anyone, often seeking those who can and do harm us while at the same time shunning those who can help -- being able to see us beyond what we appear to be at the moment – to see what we can become: ‘a diamond in the rough’. Though occasionally, when we are aware -- and this awareness can seem to make the pain   even more excruciating -- wisdom can prevail and we resist the pull(s) and deal with the pain in directing the excessive energy we possess towards a positive goal -- great artistic achievements, scientific and social advancements etc. Above examples of famous people listed in link (plus the three I named) serve to illustrate the point. This awareness should grow as we become older and the realization  that we are of value to those around us and even to humanity in general due to our achievements and advancements.
They often will shun us when we display eccentric or excessive behaviors or worse often exploit the situation – if we are perceived as weak or gullible. Regarding the shunning, it literally doesn’t take much -- one wrong word or action on our part (usually in innocence) -- in short ‘a bad hair day’ to phrase it facetiously.  Fortunately such encounters are few yet the result  -- whether short or long  -- can be very devastating. After all, we do tend to be like a ‘glass house’ -- very fragile -- such that even a ‘pebble’ can shatter us when thrown in our direction. Most will respect us yet maintain a distance due to a lack of understanding or a perception of our fragile nature or that we just don’t let them in. Yet fewer still will enter into a closer relationship with us thus instilling a sense of wisdom and maturity with a greater measure of self control. Yet the roads travelled on with such relationships can be rocky and rough as our friend has to deal with our quarks, eccentricities and expressed  episodes of paranoia coupled with bouts of depression. Yet if such a friend stays with us through the rockiest and roughest passages, the final destination will be nothing short of Shangri-la and it would not be just one sided. We receive a high amount of reassurance, less fearful and finally a greater ease in controlling what has isolated us in the first place. We become stronger and less fragile. The other would have the benefit of a true friend – the  results of our obsessive compulsive behaviors (due to a high amount of energy in our spirit as one doctor once told me that I/ we would need to learn to channel in a positive manner.) Our sensitive natures would be such that the needs of the other would be placed before our desires – increasing as we gain wisdom and maturity.
Those who die young – Glenn Gould & Michael Jackson (at 50) are usually child prodigies while others like Albert Einstein (76) or George Washington (67) are often late bloomers. Some like Syd Barrett who left a tremendous body of work (Piper at the Gates of Dawn – with Pink Floyd and two solo albums after only four years in the limelight) before retreating into hermitude with much speculation that he had suffered a drug induced breakdown. With this in mind songs like Bike in both the lyrics and the music do have a sense of asperger. Yet his legacy and influence is felt even today, over 40 years later. Kind of begs the question -- where would humanity be without us: creatively pushing the boundaries forward in all walks of life – the Einsteins,  the Glenn Goulds, the Leonardo DaVincis and the Bill Gates? Could we be as has been mentioned ‘the salt of the earth’ and one of the characteristics of salt is that just a little can add flavor to a dish. Another is that salt acts as a preservative.
Coping with:
1)      Accept the difference within us.
2)      Learn to redirect your energy towards positive pursuits.
3)      Learn to never express your negative thoughts to the other person. Dwell on the positive. If this becomes too difficult seek professional counsel.
4)      Remember this `flow` of will’ -- Devine will brings the other to you; the other`s will is how close, the nature and the pacing; our will is to accept and nurture.
5)      Remember the adage – if you attempt to grab something that is going away from us, we only succeed in pushing it further away.
6)      Learn to say NO (as we are often very compliant -- a form of co-dependence -- so we say yes most of the time) and accept it when the other says it. It is not an expression of rejection!

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