The Chaos of Being Alone
“I canceled my flight.”
“You’re not coming?”
“We can’t do this anymore.”
And with five words, my safety net disappeared. My comfort evaporated. Like a feeling similar to the biggest drop on a rollercoaster, my stomach flipped upside down as I was plunged into chaos. The chaos of being alone. Who am I without him? What do I do now? I’ve never really been alone. Suspended in a freefall, toward who knows what. I am still figuring out that question.
Two years passed by in a blink of an eye. Daily phone calls and emails, visits traversing the country, summer road trips, concerts, baseball games, relaxing days at home, and our constant adventures have shaped the last two years of my life.
We were best friends, partners in crime, figuring out life together – one day at a time. We grew together and supported each other through all the obstacles that college threw our way. It feels like we were only just having the conversation about “doing long distance” when I left for school two years ago. Was it really a year ago that I went to visit him for the last time? Although people assume long distance can never work, it wasn’t the distance that broke us. It was the future that we envisioned for ourselves that tore us apart.
Losing my best friend was a disastrous paradox. I felt hopeful, but desolate. I felt empowered, but defeated. I was happy, but terribly sad. I was excited, but terrified. I felt convicted, but unsure. With an iron grip, chaos threw me back and forth.
Who am I without him? My answer depends on the day. Still moving through the chaos, I find myself oscillating between two extremes. I feel alone or I feel free.
But despite the chaos that surrounds me, I have a greater hope, a greater goal. Gone are the confinements of a white picket fence future, the very future that tore us apart. No longer am I married to a set path. Graduate, move back home, marry, find a comfortable “nine to five” job, have kids, quit job, raise kids, retire. While there is nothing wrong with that path (maybe it will be mine one day), my future is now wide open. I don’t owe anyone any part of me or my future, whatsoever. No one can hold me back from my next steps – studying abroad, moving to New York City, and beyond. How liberating is the chaos of being alone.
I prayed and I asked for understanding. Did I do the right thing? Did I cross the right bridge? Or did I burn the wrong one? I still don’t know the answer. And even if I did, does it matter? The decision was made a long time ago, I was pushed (or did I leap?) into the chaos of being alone.
Like the empires of the past, the civilizations long gone, all goes to chaos, eventually. Wishing I could turn him back into a stranger will never shelter me from the winds that push me back and forth.
But in the chaos, I found relief. Eventually, I found light. I found myself running through my storm, dancing in the tumultuous winds. Wondering what would come next; when would lightning strike again and shake up my world?
I haven’t stopped moving, I haven’t stopped dancing. But it may not be just because of my resolve or my persistence. I’m afraid. I’m terrified that if I stop moving, I’ll feel the full brunt of the storm. At least when I am moving, I control my interaction with the storm. I am scared that if I stand still, I’ll see the storm for what it really is. I’ll feel the loss at its most powerful.
Growth is painful, change is painful. But in the bedlam of the in-between, I realized that nothing is as painful as being stuck somewhere I don’t belong. Committed to something that wasn’t right for me. For so long, I thought I had found my future. We thought we had it figured out, that we would make it through. But God/fate/higher powers have a funny way of throwing a wrench in those seemingly “set” plans, and pushing me back on the road I am meant to walk – alone, at least for now.
I still hold onto some part of our friendship. I still remember the good and the bad days, and I won’t forget our experience any time soon. But in all the pain and confusion, all the highs and lows of loss; the chaos of being alone has truly set me free.