What do you do when you’re socially dead? When you’ve killed the part of you capable of relaxing or enjoying being around others? Whatever capacity I had for fulfilling relationships or friendships is gone. To just be in the moment with someone, to relate. To let go. I can’t interact without this constant shadow hanging over me. I can’t bring myself to be likable, or fun, or interesting anymore. I was never exactly the life of the party, but when I was a kid I at least had some semblance of personality. There was still something inside my shell that I would occasionally let out. I had ideas, I was enthusiastic and had a sense of fun. I’m sure plenty found me annoying, but there was at least a chance of connection, of mutual feeling. Now there’s just nothing.
The things I’ve done and what I know about myself overshadow every interaction. I have to hide, from everyone. Cover up the clues, so they don’t suspect. But this makes every conversation a chore. I can’t risk being spontaneous, or outrageous, or saying what I’m really feeling. Because what if I let something slip, and people get curious? It could all crumble down so easily. Everything I say is subconsciously filtered through a layer of caution.
So I’m dead, socially speaking. I have no prospects of meaningful relationships or real friendships. Being around others is something to endure. I have cast myself out from the tribe and any comfort it can bring. Being that alone is terrifying. It strips away all the traditional sources of meaning in life. Partner? Nope. Children? Hell no! Fulfilling career or achieving social status? Not possible. Tribal loyalties or heroic narratives? Long ago vanished.
If I were religious or at peace with myself, then perhaps I could find some level of comfort with this solitude. I could be a hermit or eccentric holy man, living in the wilderness. But I’m not. I have no overarching narrative of universal redemption, and no guiding light. I have no philosophy or social goal to bring to the masses. I just have me, and my aloneness.
I don’t think this is hell, but it’s certainly a step on the road. Imagine just you and your neuroses, your cravings, longings, self-hatred and regrets, for the rest of your life. With nothing to distract you but the cultural artefacts produced by others who aren’t in your desperate state. Imagine observing life from the outside, with your nose pressed up against the glass.
I know there are those who are happy with this level of isolation. I’m just not one of them. I am insanely introverted and shy, but I also need people, to give meaning to my life. So much of my time is spent trying to artificially simulate this need, but it’s all hollow.