Saturday, September 30, 2017

I'm Better Off Alone

Do ants make mistakes? If they do, do they communicate their poor choices immediately so other's don't fall into the same trap?  My porch in the summer would be a carpet of ants if they wandered off alone or froze in their tracks.

I'm talking here about unhealthy isolation, rather than meditative quite time. My growth times are when I'm quiet before God, reading, taking a hike in contemplation, listening to my body. These are essential to me.  It's the shining or hiding alone spells I'm referring here.

The Shining -
I grew up thinking men, real men are pioneers, trailblazers, leaders, self-made men. The Lone Ranger had Tonto to help him out (Tonto relied on his horse for sage messages). I wondered how can he be "lone" if he had a companion, who had a companion? Well it didn't take me long to figure out I can be alone in a group or a large city like LA. Eleanor Rigby comes to mind.  My rewards matched up to my "real men" ideal. Studies, work, play were all individually rewarded - I can do this myself and get credit, a pat on the back, acceptance, love and be in control. I applied my Self-made-ness to dating, family, friends, marriage, raising children. Crap; this didn't work out like I hoped. Proverbs 18:1 (Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.)

Turtle Time -
When I make a choice that harms family, friends or work, A force tugs at my heart to be left alone. For a time, I am separated from those I broke trust. My instinct is to protect my boarders or retract in my shell. Outside contact is a threat to me, a disturbance of my peace and a pressure I can't withstand; shame. As a backup plan I'll use a stall tactic - maybe if I don't say anything right away it will lessen the severity or disappear. This is wishful thinking at best and denial definitely. Listening to other men, I've learned that I'm not alone in wanting to be left alone .  "I'm better off alone" can be the battle cry of a marriage falling apart - or afterward in divorce, a single person who can't find the "right" person, a person in an addiction, etc..

What attracts me to unhealthy isolation?  Fear... Fear, shame, unworthiness. This is a position of weakness, not power. I don't want to own my participation, choice, or lack of wisdom. A finger points in my direction. "Dummy", "What did you expect?".  Next compelling reason to keep to myself is hurt avoidance - mine or someone else. I've played out the consequences and I'm not eager to step into it.

The Hardest Part -
When I mess things up - confess, admit, own my act or ill chosen words. What if I own my part? That's power!  I can change what I measure and owning my choice is a mark of measurement. 

Not Alone -
Separation is a predator's game.  The largest animals on earth are easier prey when separated from the pack. Again, why do I consider myself the exception?  I'm navel gazing and self-diluted, that's why.  Each time I allow trusted family and/or friends to share their judgments, my decisions carry more weight whether I choose to incorporate them or not.

When I own my actions or ill chosen words and share appropriately, I begin to build a bridge to a healthy connection and decrease the likelihood of repeating my offense or falling into my same repetitive trap. Ants were a poor example. Mine do fall into the same trap...eventually.

Owning and sharing takes courage. What are your experiences and thoughts of being - better off alone?