markpaul's Blog

An overheard conversation and Batman...

At the gym, I overheard one guy talking to a woman, in a very animated way, explain his experiences about recently moving into a new apartment with his partner and how he had to pay extra because two people would be living there. From that snippet of a conversation, I felt sadness crawl itself over me. You see, I live alone in an isolated existence that I have chosen and continue to maintain. I want to say I never had a taste of being with someone else, but truth be told, I have. The thing is, I no longer wear my solitude like the badge of honor I once thought it was. I no longer want it, yet I don't want to retreat from it. It's a tug-of-war with myself.

I remember when Batman first came out in movie form (the Michael Keaton version) and felt redeemed because Bruce Wayne chose to be so solitary. I felt sad when the script (and storyline) forced him to seek companionship to acknowledge his loneliness. "I can't identify with that; the movie is ruined," I remember thinking to myself as I watched (the entire movie) in the safety of the dark theatre, seemingly all alone. Now, I know what (that) Bruce Wayne was feeling. The funny thing is this time, the sadness is because I am envious that someone has companionship in the form of a housemate. The trouble is, unlike Bruce Wayne I don't have a script or a superhero identity to guide me.  

Viewing myself from outside and other excerpts...

... It's just that I don't have any meaningful relationships.

Why do you think that is?

Well, I've been cast out. For some reason I repulse people. I don't understand it. It's so sad.

Are you sad?

Well, yeah, that's what I said.

No... you said "it's" so sad. Why did you say, "it's so sad" if  you mean you're so sad?

Is this really important and worth using up our time about?

Yes, I think it is. You said, "it's" so sad, what did you mean by that?

I don't know... I guess when I look at it, it just seems so sad.

So, you are looking at your life as though you and "it" are two different things.

Hmmm.... maybe. I don't know.

I told you. It's dangerous to use "I don't know" as a lazy way not to explain what you are feeling.

Okay, okay. I guess I am taking a look at myself and seeing something that seems sad. And, that makes me sad.

Why do you think you have been cast out?

It's just that no one wants me. No one has EVER shown any interest in me.

That seems like an exaggeration.

No, it's really not. I have no friends, no meaningful relationships, and I am totally isolated.

Why bring this up now?

I guess because I saw someone I know get congratulated on one of those networking applications and it was her father-in-law who congratulated her on some career achievement and he sad, "I am so proud of you for your accomplishments and for being a great mother to my grandsons and for taking care of my son. Love you so much." And, I guess I realized that I have none of that dimension to my life. I've never even ever had a taste of that. 

Why do you think that is? What role have you played in that circumstance?

[Silence]... [Silence]... [Silence].

Let's talk about this in our next session...

Mother and Son visit...

They sat without saying anything for quite some time  occasionally glancing at each other. "Are you enjoying the book you are reading?" "Yes," was his reply. He had no energy to engage in conversation, to initiate any conversation, or maintain the conversation. There were memories to enjoy, things to say, and moments to share. But, the mood demanded to be serviced and that extracted everything. At 15 minutes she said, 'Let's watch the movie you brought" and they hid behind that individual activity they did together until it was time for him to go. She suggested that it was time-to-go first. There was a quick hug and he was gone. She seemed sad and lost and he felt disconnected and abandoned. He planned to visit again next month and she assumed he would. 

Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is...

My low self-esteem is a best friend who came to vist and has over-stayed his welcome long after the friendship has lost its meaning. Truth be told, we have had some good times together, but it insists on impressing upon me negative influences. It is time to move on. Like one who has been abused though, I feel threatened to leave it behind or let it go even though I realize our relationship is no longer healthy. I want to become friends with confidence. But, self-confidence doesn't seem to want me as a friend. Not yet, anyway.

Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is...

My low self-esteem is a best friend who came to vist and has over-stayed his welcome long after the friendship has lost its meaning. Truth be told, we have had some good times together, but it insists on impressing upon me negative influences. It is time to move on. Like one who has been abused though, I feel threatened to leave it behind or let it go even though I realize our relationship is no longer healthy. I want to become friends with confidence. But, self-confidence doesn't seem to want me as a friend. Not yet, anyway.

Hard-coded to be alone...

I wonder if I am 'hard-coded" not to have friends. It is always easy to see the relationship mistakes of others: maybe you are being to critical of others, maybe you are holding others up to standards that simply can't be met, maybe you are being too critical of yourself, maybe you are letting your low self-esteem define you and hold you back. 

I wonder why I am so undesirable. Sometimes I see all my flaws and think I am just plain ugly. And, that confirms why I "need" to be solitary. Other times, I think I am not as ugly as I think I am and besides no one is spending as much time on my flaws as I am. In truth, everyone (even those with movie-star looks and professional publicity spokespeople behind them) has flaws. Flaws are part of the human condition.

So, maybe I am hard-coded not to have friends. But, maybe I also have the tools to change the coding if I want. If I want...

The emptiness of it all...

I called my Mom and Dad. My Mom told me there was going to be a memorial service for the neighbor and 45+ year friend of the family on Sunday who had died. "Do you want to come?" I didn't say anything. She said it's so sad and her kids want to remember her and find some closure. "Do you want to come?" I said I didn't know. "Well, you think about it and let me know. You knew her too, so it would make sense for you to be there. But, I don't want to force you into it. You can join in. What are you going to do, sit in the house by yourself while the rest of us are outside?" I didn't say anything. She said, "I'm not a happy camper." She asked, "when are you coming to visit? Are you coming this Saturday?" I told her I would be. She asked, "Do you want to see your brother? (he's visitng from out of state)" She continued, "I can't change anything, that's when they want to have the service. Do you want to come?" Raising my voice I said: "I told you I am coming Saturday and you keep asking me if I am coming?" She said, "Okay come. Everyone will be glad to see you, but I know you don't like it when too many people are around. I didn't say anything. She put my father on the phone and he wanted to know when I would be coming. I said, "Saturday." He said, there was going to be a memorial service for the neighbor on Sunday. "Why don't you come then." My mother was screaming in the background, "He's coming Saturday." My father said, "maybe you should come Sunday." My mother screamed, "He can't come Sunday; he's coming Saturday." I was about to say, maybe I could come Sunday. A voice in the background said, "the memorial service is going to be Saturday." My father said, well come on Saturday; we want to see you. My Dad handed the phone back to my mother. She didn't ask if I wanted to talk to my brother. I didn't ask; I didn't say much and she said she had to go prepare lunch. She said she loves me. I said, "Good-bye." The call ended. I feel empty.

Running on Empty...

Lately I have been noticing how people seem to be coupled, traveling in packs of friends. And, while my observations reveal a layer of envy, I know I don't have the qualifications to sustain a friendship of any kind. Running behind, I don't have the social skills or the personal fortitude to relate to others on any type of sustainable personal level. So, I remain an outsider looking in at the interaction most people seem to desire and enjoy, secretly craving the same activity and attention they seem to trade naturally, but hyper-aware that activity is not intended for me. As I find myself running on empty I wonder if I am tricking myself into believing...
  • I am incapable of friendships
  • Friendships are not meant for me
  • I am better off alone
  • I enjoy being alone
  • My purpose is to be alone

It's not that I am unhappy or dissatisfied. Not by a long-shot. But, if that's truly the case, I should not find myself running on empty. Right...?

Note to self... and reply

Dear Self...

I can't seem to get the hang of revealing emotions with anyone close. It is as though I am attempting to hide something that if found out will crumble me. Yet, I don't know what it is, why I shut-down when my emotions are called upon, or why I cede all personal control and let sadness (an emotion) overtake me, revealing holes inside.

I have no resolution (solution or New Year's) to this issue. Attempting to confront it and take charge creates a sense of immediate physical exhaustion and sense of defeat. I (now) know the "emotional control" is holding me back, but my lack of emotion represents my comfort zone even though I no longer want to be comforted by it.

Withholding my emotions served me well for so many years. Now, it is weighing me down like an oversized anchor too big for its intended purpose. I have outgrown my need to be so self-protected, but I don't know any other way to operate.

Signed... Lost at sea


Dear Lost at Sea... It's a new year filled with wonder, hope, and potential.You may feel disappointed, fueled by despair now. But, all is not lost. Don't focus on what you wish you were. Attempt to meet your desired self by reaching out, never giving up, and noting milestone progress. Take joy in the competiton; don't be concerned with failure. It can be your friend if you have the courage to embrace it. I know how you feel about yourself and you are not as bad as you encourage yourself to believe. Don't get me wrong, you do have your moments, but you are really not so bad. Will you trust me on this? I know this question makes you feel awkward, but I am still asking it.

Solutions to the self are not always easy to uncover, but they always exist. Use your sense of discovery, your focus and discipline, and know that you can be loved and you can show love. Speaking of love, I know how you love to (over) analyze things. But, maybe all that you need is some practice when it comes to extending love to others and graciously accepting it. I know that scares you. But, sometimes simple solutions that require personal courage to confront personal fears are the most effective solutions of all. And, maybe, you don't need ALL the answers on why you need a solution. Maybe, you just need to practice the solution to fill in some of the holes inside. I'm looking forward to hearing from you throughout 2012 and for a thousand years.. and more. 

Getting it straight...

I feel like it's time to move on. For the longest time I have been holding and internalizing and defining myself with all the hurt feelings I have collected through all the years. I have never really let anything go. Instead, I have empowered all of those hurt feelings to, in turn, power and confirm feelings of low self-worth, low self-esteem, and being inadaquate.

This isn't really a sudden realization. It's part of a series of realizations about myself that I have been recently gaining as I assess where I am with my human development. I don't know if I ever will be able to move into a healthy relationship. I can't seem to reconcile my feelings about myself, my connection with others, what I want to accomplish, and what I am willing to put into the effort.

I feel like I have been down this road before. I feel like I might be able to get it straight this time. At least, I know the way. But, do I have what it takes?

"They're writing songs of love, but not for me..."

I am socially awkward, emotionally stunted, and most comfortably alone. Yet, being alone never seems to live up to its full potential. So, quite often I am in a state of consistent contradiction... wanting and imagining being fully engaged with a life filled with friends and friendly pursuits. But, always... always falling back into the solitude from an all too welcoming world of one.

Perhaps the disguise of being fully socially-functional while harboring feelings of low self-worth are taking its toll. Perhaps, watching too many (so-called) reality TV shows of people who self-destruct from those same feelings are denting the formidable armor I once was so proud of, but now suspect have me trapped inside a psychological prison.Or, perhaps the irony that fate often loves to deliver has offered me doubt in the lone wolf path I so vigorously pursued and preserve.

I'm not sad, down-and-out, or necessarily regretful. Instead, I feel  "I was a fool to fall - and get this way..." 

The front door...

"It is not for the family to use. I don't want to see anyone using it. Is that clear?" We all said yes. It made no sense. But, I felt as though it was probably for the best since I wasn't worthy of using it. In any case, it didn't matter, because we were never given a key. "Company can use the front door, but family, no. Not ever!" The rule stayed in force for all the time I lived there, at home.  

Perhaps next time...

He called his parents. It had been a few weeks since the last time they had talked. In the background he could hear his father's voice, "Tell him I said hello." "Your father says hello." He didn't make any acknowledgment. And, while he felt annoyed, he knew if his father did make any effort to talk to him, it wouldn't lead to any substantive conversation anyway. So, he listened to his mother talk about her neighbor's new roof, some TV program she had watched where humans attempted (and succeeded) in domesticating a wild animal, and the death of a once close friend. He didn't respond. His mother asked him some questions about the upcoming election. He offered one word answers. His mother didn't seem to notice. She asked him what he was doing. He replied with empty feeling, "Nothing." She asked him what book he was reading and as he started to come to life about reading "Out of Africa" and explaining the details, she interrupted with her own thoughts of which he could no longer recall. He didn't try to regain any footing in the conversation. She asked about the weather and wanted to know how he felt about the latest terrorist scare. When he failed to indicate he was shocked and unnerved as she said she was, she said she was just interested. "I'm just interested." She told him about his brothers. He indicated no curiosity, passing interest, or insight. He thought to himself that he could be autistic.

She relented the control over the conversation by saying she loved him and wished him a good upcoming week. Acting as though he had heard it all before, he said goodbye and hung up the phone. He felt empty and depressed. He reminded himself he never really had a substantive connection with his parents, although on the surface he was sure it seemed as though there was more than there was currently. Maybe he was wrong. In any case, he folded up the long list of things he wanted and planned to tell her. "Perhaps next time," he thought...

The power of the power box...

I replaced the power box in my computer which stopped working this morning. The computer was off (I always leave it on, in sleep mode). When I pressed the power button, nothing happened and there was a green blinking light in the back even when I pulled out the plug. Weird!  I was able to diagnose the problem, test the options, and determine the root cause. I headed out, taking the unit with me and I conferred with they guy in the narrow black tie and white shirt at the retailer and agreed with him that I could probably install a new power unit myself and save on the diagnosis and installation fees ($70 + $60) plus avoid the wait time. I bought the new power box and then went to work out. I had a strong chest work out and 30 minutes of cardio.

 When I got home, I began to install the new power box. There were six connecting links including the one to the motherboard which was the most difficult to reconnect because it was hard to reach. Getting all the wires to squeeze into the CPU was not easy; I ultimately prevailed. I plugged everything back in. It didn't work. I felt dejected. I start considering a new PC. I decided to reopen the case and re-check all the connections. I pulled out two, including the one to the motherboard. This time, I plugged in the power box before closing up the case. The fan to the power unit went on and the computer started. I pulled the plug, closed the case and reconnected everything including the monitor. SUCCESS!

I feel so manly.

A self-imposed lost connection...

He called each week and barely ever spoke. She did all of the talking. Before each call he would role play what he would say. During each rehearsal, he was open, honest, excited, and willing to share. But, once the call took place he shut down, closed up, and became the silent visitor on the end of the phone call. She never seemed to pick up on the reason behind his silence and he never attempted to explain. Over time, he no longer fully understood what caused him to act this way, yet he retained his suspicions. The few times when someone else would pick up the phone he was even more withdrawn.

Most of his earlier memories had turned into sad ones. Yet, he was convinced he really had been happy. Most of what he recollected turned on the tension, anxiety, and despair that gave his early years their dimension. He knew he was distancing himself from that self. And, as if on auto-pilot, anyone and every one that held him to that self had lost their connection to him. It seemed to be the way he wanted it. But, that made him sad too.

Life moves ahead at an incredible speed and connections last only for an instant. They are fragile and not self-sustaining. And, it seemed (even to him) that he was too willing to squander the few connections he had.

On being blank...

So... I have been operating on a solo basis and it's what I wanted [want], but it's not as satisfying as I was thinking it would turn out to be. Don't get me wrong. I am enjoying the solitude, the capability to run entirely in chill mode and escape all drama. But, there is a missing element. It's like I am blank. Lately I have been thinking that I am holding myself in a self-constructed prison. In some respects I want to be fully engaged with people, but it is almost as though I won't allow myself that pleasure.


The man went to the office and did his job. He interacted with the people. He dreamed of having an impact. He recognized his capabilites. He wondered about individual purpose, connection of all beings, cruelty of humanity, and the march of time. There were some days when his creativity came pouring out of him and he was its instrument. There were other days when he felt confused about his value and thought he might be deficient. He closed himself off to most substantive human contact. He heard a voice, "don't be scared, it's only love."

What did I do? Why have I sentenced myself to solitary confinement? I didn't do anything wrong. How can I plead my case with myself?

And, I love her still...

Okay, I miss her. I actually, truly miss her. I miss the convenience of our relationship. I want the comfort of her expectations. I want back the belief she had we would both be together; that this was the right match for both of us. I miss the way we used to talk about the future as though it was a place we were planning to move into. We had different ideas. I wanted to take the future as is. She had several do-it-ourselves projects lined-up to start as soon as we did move in. We could easily spend an entire weekend sharing plans, exercising compromise-negotiation, and enjoying each other's self-satisfied smiles over our future plans.

She understood my intimacy issues, my reluctance to get "too" close, how overwhelmed I could get if I didn't have my time alone. I claimed to be an island, but she exposed me to a life outside my world of one. As I struggled with an emotionally stifled sense of purpose, she suggested I might be disguising a self-absorbed point of view. Instead of thanking her for being so nurturing, I told her she had a natural mothering instict which she twisted into an insult that was never intended. As I craved more time alone, she became disturbed that I was regressing. When I suggested taking a break from each other, she blew her top.

I do not have too many close, close friends. Friends, yes, but only a few are close enough to really know me and what my thoughts and morals are. She understood what my outlook was and what I cared about.. She was the light of my life. And I love her, still. 

"You always love people on your way out..."

Should I call her? I don't think I'm going to call her. I wonder what she's doing? I haven't actually called her since our break-up. Maybe, I will just let her phone ring once... no twice.. if she answers on the second call then it means we should talk. If she doesn't then I will just let it go. What the hell.. this reminds me of middle school. Except, I'm the one acting like the chic. Okay, okay. I am going to call her.

She answered on the fourth ring. "Hi. I ah... um..."  She jumped right in. "You said 'um.'" "Yeah, I know. I was going for boyish charm."  She laughed. It wasn't my best material, but she offered a genuine laugh. "So how have you been?" I was genuinely interested, but she seemed guarded. I went further, "I love you." "You once told me about yourself, you always love people on your way out. And, now I know what you meant." All I could offer was, "Yeah,  I know, but..." "You know, but...?" she challenged. "I don't know. I miss you, I guess. I mean I know we broke-up.." "No! NO! You decided to break-up. You wanted to be alone. Translation: you wanted to run away. Read your own blog." I paused and it was fatal. She filled in the silence, "I don't really want to get into this. I don't want to talk to you. And, I want to go." "I admit, there were errors," I said robotically attempting to regain her favor with an attempt at humor that had worked early in our relationship whenever I made a mistake I was reluctant to own. Now she hesitated and I decided to take a risk by revealing, "I feel blank..." "I have to go," she reminded me. "Crash and burn?" I asked her to confirm. "Crash and burn," she agreed. She gave me no hint of hesitation and then she was gone. "There were errors," I mocked to myself in a trailing voice and with a forced smile.

I put the phone down and thought about that line I used to describe myself when we first met and I wanted to demonstrate my honesty, self-awareness, and abiltiy to call up some rusty high school French wit. Now she was using it against me, "Vous avez toujours amour personnes sur votre moyen de sortir." But, she was right about what I had said, I always love people on my way out.

An orange and cloves...

"Okay, children. Now you must remember to bring with you an orange. Be sure it is a naval orange. Can everyone remember that?" "Yes, Mrs. Landeau." I was hesitant, but added my voice to the unison confirmation. "And, tell your mothers you will need about 25 to 30 cloves. So, what is everyone going to bring to our summer school class tomorrow?" Through that entire summer class, Mrs. Landeau would always refer to our class as "our summer school class."

She was quick with a hug, but as nice as she was, it was as though she didn't want us to forget that we were spending a good portion of that summer vacation in summer school. When my mother suggested it while insisting that I go, I thought "this is realy something I don't want to do." "You'll have fun with all the other kids,"she coaxed me. I remember thinking, I really just want some time to just be alone. But, she wouldn't hear of it. I said, "Yeah, but I'm not interested in arts and crafts." She pushed, "Oh, everyone likes arts and crafts and you will look forward to going every day." And, now I had to remember to bring in an orange and some cloves.

The next day, Mrs. Landeau instructed us on the proper way to insert the cloves into the orange. "This is going to make a delightful addition to any closet and fill it with a fragrance that will have everyone in your family coming back for more." Mrs. Landeau smiled in a way that filled every self-doubt I felt back then, even though, upon reflection, she probably sounded like a cheesey infomerical. But, I know I believed her."This is going to make a nice gift to someone in your family." That made me smile. On the way home that day,  I remember visualizing Mrs.  Landeau's smile and imitating it, unaware it would form the basis for my competition smile years in the future. For the first time that summer, I felt happy with myself. And although reluctantly, I admitted to myself I had fun that day in summer school Maybe my mother was right.

"Hi Mom. I'm home. Look what I did." My Mom took the clove-pricked orange I handed to her, she smelled it, and offered her version of Mrs.  Landeau's smile. "MMMMM. This smells delightful." It's for use in closets I instructed her. Can we put it in Dad's closet? He will be surprised when he comes home." "Oh, that will be nice, she agreed. That's a very nice idea." I hugged my Mom, grabbed the gift, and raced to my Dad's closet. I wanted to place this gift in just the right way. Looking back, I have chills right now at how pathetic I seemed. But, I genuinely remember... I still remember... exactly how excited I felt at that moment. It was before I ever even thought about the idea of controlling my emotions. I waited for him to come home.

I walked with him into the bedroom, not saying a word and smiling a Mrs. Landeau smile at the waiting surprise. I wanted to blurt out what was going on, but I didn't want to spoil the surprise. My father's voice exploded, "What the hell is this smell?" I froze. He started screaming for my mother. My father looked around the closet for the source of the smell. My mother came running into the room. I remember her telling him it was something I had done in summer school. I remained frozen. I remember him yelling with overflowing anger that it was a waste of an orange and demanding it be thrown away and nothing like this should ever, EVER be done again! The image I have is me standing in the background, unable to move and feeling overwhlemed by the emotional turmoil that had been created. I remember standing there, still frozen, unsure of what to do and not understanding what I had done wrong. I don't remember anything else specfic about that summer. It wasn't until very recently when out of nowhere, the idea that I didn't do anything wrong came to me. I did nothing wrong. And, now I am embarrassed to admit, but I feel like crying for that little boy who used to be me. I think he needs a hug.

The scent of rotting self-confidence...

So, it's really over. I'm not sad, I'm not surprised, I'm not sorry. I'm not better off, upset, or even lost. I'm just blank. Throughout our relationship I loved her, truly loved her. But, I don't miss her and I know, in part from past experience, I won't miss her.

The break-up was relatively pain-free and standard. Oh, there was some initial awkwardness at the restaurant where I told her I wanted to be alone. But, her reaction could have been predicted had I really wanted to think about it. It just seems... well, what's the point? After every break-up I usually go into a 3 day analysis of the relationship from start to finish. I come out with a list of things to change for the next time. And, then I repeat the same mistakes and feel the world closing in on me at about the same time into the relationship. The only thing that varies, and not in substantive terms, is the "terms and conditions" of the break-up. "I want to be alone," "I don't feel like this is working out for either of us," "What are we doing?" "I think we shoud be honest with each other..." It's starting to feel pretty much all the same. This is the first time I am questioning my own motives though.

Under normal operating procedures, I would take the time to re-tool and re-emerge in about 4 to 6 weeks with a renewed self-purpose. But, maybe it's time to call myself out and stop these antics. I remember once considering this behavior gave me depth and enhanced my desirabiity factor. But, now it seems like I am on a losing path, engaged in a losing proposition that no longer represents what I am and who I want to be. I have to admit, what I find most troubling is my self-questioning can easily turn into a confidence-killer that even the best competition smile won't be able turn around. Dating prospects can always pick up the scent of rotting self-confidence...

1-20 of 25 Blogs   

Previous Posts
An overheard conversation and Batman..., posted September 24th, 2014
Viewing myself from outside and other excerpts..., posted September 12th, 2014
Mother and Son visit..., posted July 21st, 2013
Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is..., posted February 15th, 2013
Seeing my low self-esteem for what it really is..., posted February 14th, 2013
Hard-coded to be alone..., posted February 10th, 2013
The emptiness of it all..., posted February 10th, 2013
Running on Empty..., posted November 11th, 2012
Note to self... and reply, posted January 1st, 2012
Getting it straight..., posted July 17th, 2011
"They're writing songs of love, but not for me...", posted December 26th, 2010
The front door..., posted November 14th, 2010
Perhaps next time..., posted October 31st, 2010
The power of the power box..., posted August 22nd, 2010
A self-imposed lost connection..., posted August 1st, 2010
On being blank..., posted May 30th, 2010
And, I love her still..., posted May 14th, 2010, 2 comments
"You always love people on your way out...", posted May 2nd, 2010, 2 comments
An orange and cloves..., posted April 28th, 2010, 4 comments
The scent of rotting self-confidence..., posted April 28th, 2010
"All the lonely people...", posted April 25th, 2010
My "over-exposure" limit..., posted April 22nd, 2010
I love YOU, but..., posted April 20th, 2010
Fear of intimacy..., posted April 19th, 2010, 1 comment
Emotional Control, posted April 18th, 2010

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