Inside My Head, Solo

Awaking a Sleeping Beast

34 Comments 14 March 2013


The beast is awake…

Why is it that when I meet someone – that’s when I feel most alone? The brain is a funny thing. I don’t really think about what I don’t have until it’s put in front of me and I can get a taste of it again. Then the desire to have it is all of a sudden present again. Sure, I’m talking about relationships specifically in this instance, however it pretty much applies to everything in my life.

The only reason that I was able to downsize and sell all of my stuff is that I had been away from it for 16 months – I had forgotten about it and my desire to have it any longer had disappeared. On another note, I don’t miss hangers until all of a sudden I get to hang up my clothes – then I think they are the best invention ever.

And so it goes with my love life.

I’m absolutely fine being on my own and really seldom ever feel lonely. I’m pretty good at making friends, entertaining myself, and using my keyboard to really sort out any deep thoughts and conversations with myself. I’m not saying this is necessarily healthy – but I’ve been getting by like this for a long, long time.

But then he comes into my life – for a brief moment. All of a sudden I’m painfully aware of what I am missing. Going through life alone can be challenging at times – and exhausting quite frankly. Yet until this moment, I rarely think about everything I have to do on my own or the lack of compassion in my life as I’ve been surviving this way for so long.

But now those thoughts are awake in my brain.

I try to avoid him at first, as I know that even though his smile seems inviting and comforting pain will ensue. I’ve spent my whole 30’s avoiding pain pretty successfully – I know the warning signs. And here it is – right in front of me – joy and pain – all wrapped up in his smile staring at me. Tempting me yet again.

He delves in with personal questions different from the standard questions of what I do, how I live, and how I survive. He digs deeper into things that people generally don’t ask and every answer I put forth I feel like I’m sinking – deeper into a hole that I don’t want to be in – leaving me vulnerable.

I start to really listen to my answers and evaluate them from an outsider view and think – this is really fucked up – traveling around the world aimlessly for 6 years – even I start to wonder what I’m running from. But instead of being appalled, he’s interested and I get a little glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe my girlfriend is right – maybe people who do crazy things and follow their dreams escaping convention are sexy and intriguing.

I try to overlook the potential heartache and jump in – somewhat cautiously at first – but the sweet nectar of companionship soon envelops me and I start to let my guard down. It’s lovely to be held, to let go – just for a moment and share responsibility with someone – even if it is only for a few days.

I don’t even know if it’s him that I yearn for or I’m simply yearning for the closeness and the ability to share half of the load for a bit. It’s hard to decipher in these fleeting moments.

I feel exposed, I feel needy, and I feel like the dormant emotional side of me is waking up after a very long hibernation. I try to tell it to go back to sleep – but it’s too late. It’s there – awake – staring at me with a look of anger for letting it sleep so long. To ease it’s anger I remind it just how hard it is to get back to sleep after it’s awake. It nods in agreement, fully alert now.

Before I know it he is gone satisfied with the thought of waking this monster inside of me and then falling out of my life as quickly as he came into it.

This is the life of a nomadic solo traveler. Constantly moving, homeless, emotionless, loveless. But I know in a few weeks this will be just yet another painful memory and I’ll go back into hibernation – my independent side will once again put on the armor and keep moving on – solo.

Your Comments

34 Comments so far

  1. Manda says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I can definitely relate though for different reasons.

  2. Alani says:

    It’s clear you jst went through a break up :-)

  3. kristi says:

    As someone who just spent years in a loveless marriage, finally survived a messy divorce, and then meeting someone at the end of it all, I know how you feel. It was hard to let someone in again, but at the same time, that guy broke those walls down easily. I wanted to not let it happen, but it did and I’m happy for it. But it was alot of work. And I met him on vacation.

    Is there a way to keep in touch with this person? You met on travels, so maybe there’s a chance that him or another person can meet you again or you can go to them. I guess I don’t see how it has to be the end. But damn…I have become an optimist and romantic. When did that happen? UGH!

    p.s.-wow! sorry if that makes it sound like I’m telling you that you have no life if you don’t fall in love. Or pressure you to find love. I hate that about other people. I’m not saying that at all.

    • Sherry says:

      I love your optimism and effort to consider how it could keep going! It makes me smile. I am still in touch with him occasionally – but I don’t really think it will be able to get off the ground with my lifestyle. I’m not saying I”m hopeless – but it takes a pretty special connection to make it work on the part of both parties.

  4. Audrey says:

    I appreciate your honesty. It’s a reality that some of us have to face. I want to believe that if someone is meant to be in my life he will stick around or come back. Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic:) I recently met someone and if doesn’t work out I’d want to do exactly what you are doing…take off and travel the world. We need to make the best with what we are given. Courage to you.

    • Sherry says:

      I hope it works for you! And yes – the key for me is to not wait around – but to keep going – I might as well live my life and enjoy myself until the right person comes along.

  5. Lynn says:

    Wow Sherry…like Manda said, thank you for your honesty. I can relate as well. That visceral loneliness can take your breath away, and it can hit you anytime — at the end of something or the beginning of something, and even when nothing at all has happened for awhile. You ARE sexy and intriguing. Don’t forget that.

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I could write a whole post on the topic of being intriguing but never being conventional enough! Maybe one day…

  6. Gray says:

    Wow. I have no words….this is just lovely, Sherry.

  7. Lauren Rains says:

    Sherry, I can’t tell you how touched I am to read this Thank you for posting this. There is not enough “real” online, and we seldom talk about love at that – us travelers are always supposed to be on an adventure living this amazing life – and so we post beautiful photo essays and resources so people can join in on the fun, rarely sharing the moments in between where we question or hurt or are vulnerable. It’s stuff like this, that you wrote today, that adds so much substance and reality though. And lets me know I’m not alone in this life controlled by wanderlust.

    But aside from that, as a young woman in my mid-twenties, I often think about where I will be in my 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. I too am a traveler, always wanting to be on the go, always fighting staying in 1 place. I’m trying it right now – to plant some roots in Boulder CO – b/c it’s a challenge I feel I must experience. But it’s tough for me. Does always wanting to be on the go mean we’re always running? I’m not so sure – it must depend on the person. Some of us are just explorers.

    But Love – love, ah, love. It’s hard to think as rationally about our choices here, more difficult to justify or understand. Independence vs. companionship – I don’t think it has to be one or the other. I’m learning right now, as I wait with open yet insanely scared arms for this wonderful mystery person to walk into my life. I think there’s someone out there searching for us as fast as they can, and they’ll get there when they’re ready – and we’ll do the same.

    Anyway, there’s my not-so-little journal entry written to you in your comments.
    Thank you for sharing this piece with us.
    – Lauren

    • Sherry says:

      Lauren – thanks for all of your thoughts – they are great and refreshing. Hmmm – wanting to be on the go and running from things are two different things. But it’s times like these that I do have to step back and wonder if I’m running. But what ultimately drives my motion is the desire to experience and see new things and to be different. But it has a nice side effect of running away from things too when you need to.

  8. Brave post, Sherry. Independence is a funny thing. And of course, so is love. In my case, I was so frickin’ independent growing up (latch-key kid from the age of 6) that I always yearned for a partner. Always. Took me until the age of 40 to find the right one, but I tried a LOT of key/lock combinations to find the perfect fit- the perfect balance of freedom and togetherness. I cannot even fathom how so many of our friends travel alone for years on end without getting soul-crushingly lonely. Or maybe they do, and just don’t talk about it much. Either way, I admire the frankness and honesty of this post. Thought-provoking stuff…

  9. Wynne says:

    Wow indeed. I’m sorry you had to experience that, but your strength and personal/emotional history WILL carry you through. And if/when it’s meant to be, everything will fall into place.

  10. Gail says:

    I’ve read many of your posts and remember seeing this phrase several times…”I’m not saying this is necessarily healthy”.
    So why do you shelve the emotional side of your life for one of adventure, experience, travel. Can’t you have some of both? You referred to going back into “hibernation”? Is that what all this travel and adventure really are?
    Just want to get you to dig a little deeper, as I sense an incredible vulnerability underneath all the stuff about how great all this travel is.

    • Sherry says:

      Are you sure you aren’t Dr. Gail? I”m happy to try to answer your question the best I can. I don’t do all of this adventurous stuff in order to shelve the emotional side of my life – I actually do all of the adventurous travel to get over my fears. I’m basically scared of a lot of things so by continuing to push myself into situations that intimidate or scare me – it makes me feel strong. Plus – I honestly LOVE to experience new and different things – it’s a disease at times. As for shelving my emotional side – I”m not sure why I do it – it’s always been that way – I’ve been on my own and pretty independent for my whole life, so I tend to deal with things myself. It comes out occasionally – but I find that if I sit and wallow in it then it’s just a waste of time and there are better things I want to be doing. So I continue to move and find adventures.

  11. I can totally relate. I’m also at this point right now, and I’m glad you found the words I didn’t have the courage to say.

    • Sherry says:

      Hang in there – the good news is that it all does pass. Maybe that’s why I travel…all of these wonderful things I get to see are great distractions!

  12. Ron says:

    Honestly written, deep, beautiful,heart-wrenching, a great novel!!. I believe that you will find the right one, just keep living and always looking towards the future, TED talks and ELLEN. He is out there!!

  13. Wow… I mean, really wow. This was very raw and honest and I clung on to every word you wrote. I thought of this one girl I met in Chile who has been traveling around solo for years and the heartaches she endures on the road… I love reading about the places you’ve traveled to, but these personal love matters wherein everyone can really relate to, well, is very brave of you to share.

  14. What an honest, thought-provoking post, Sherry. Thank you.

    PS: How did cave people exist without hangers? Their marshmallows must have always fell into the campfire!

  15. Wow, you’re kinda scaring me now. 😉 I’ve oddly been enjoying my mid-life solo gal-ness, and I keep wondering when I might wake up and feel bereft and fall into my mid-life crisis of love, relationships.

    Sometimes I don’t know what I am anymore- man, woman, grrrltraveler… survivor.

    One moment could be a downfall. I’ve been single as long and it’s a big mountain to carry even one life on my own. There’s a vulnerability that I know that suffocate, in order to survive. I don’t always like having to feel strong. Wow, to be able to breathe and feel that vulnerability for just a moment… That’s life, living and feeling your womanhood.

    Makes me think– what are the rest of us who aren’t experiencing that living?

    I think everything in life is a gift… sometimes, it’s a pretty shitty but good gift. =) Hugs.

    • Sherry says:

      Loved your comments – thanks for leaving them. You put it into words nicely – suffocating our vulnerability – that’s how I normally operate – but sometimes it finds a way out.

  16. Dear Lion,

    Dorthy here….
    Remember that crazy trip we took? With Scare Crow and Tin Man? Remember how in the end, after the scary flying monkeys, smoke and mirrors, the witch and the wizard, we discovered we always had what we needed / desired for the most? It was there all along, in the beginning. Remember how dumb we felt?! WHAT!? You mean we didn’t need the near death experience to start? Well….that would have also meant that we wouldn’t have the friendship and so that seems okay.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about home and this habit of ours, to run, and what is it all about. The root of the root. The addiction to BEING FREE seems to be a big player here. Free to do what we want, jump on a plane, write until 2am, dance until mid-night and flirt with all the boys. We can’t commit to anything that doesn’t keep us on this adrenaline high and I wonder if we confuse freedom FROM and freedom TO.
    Why are we so allergic to BUILDING!?
    Why do we associate love with pain, roots to constrain and can’t seem to shake the wounds from our past and let it dictate the next adventure?
    I say we are better than that.
    I say we are smarter and braver and more magical than that.
    I say we stop worrying about going home and overcoming fears. We already know how to do that, remember. I say we try for the next rung up, the next challenge. (There I said it, the C-word).
    I say we learn to build, love and leave all that no longer serves us behind. We stop being ready to set everything ablaze and walk away with just a backpack full of clothes.
    We learn how to build and still be free. Create and not let the creation become our master. Invest, surrender and trust the process will yield the most delightfully fulfilling dividends.
    As to where we file these experiences in the mean time — their devastating smiles, wit, wander lust and the soft whisper of “don’t go, I’m not done with you yet” just before they are the big spoon and you find yourself belonging despite of your best fight?! Training wheels. Training wheels baby.

    See you soon Lion. I will bring some yellow bricks w/ me to our next rendezvous.

    Yours in Adventure, Always,


  17. Sarah says:

    Always your courage humbles me, Sherry. I hope that in all things, you find peace and reconcile that which you need with what you want. I do what you to know that your courage to do, to tell, to believe, is beyond inspirational to me. Thank you and I’m wishing you healing hibernation followed shortly by reckless optimism!

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks Sarah! I love myself some reckless optimism – and trust me – I have a lot of that planned for late 2013 and early 2014! Looking forward to your adventures in the rally this year!

  18. Ryan says:

    From what I observed in the time I spent with you (not that I would pretend to know you) I could never call you “emotionless, or loveless”. I was married for 20+ years. I found out my spouse had been cheating on me and lieing to me for at least 18 months. When I confronted her and ask if she wanted to work things out at first she said yes but that turned out to be a lie also. This leads me to what another of your readers pointed out you “can never quite know about the other person and it doesn’t matter that much in the final count”.

    One thing I think your post points out well is that the grass is always greener. Relationships are hard work and sometimes no matter hard you work if the other person’s heart is not in it you are doomed to failure.

    I have come to believe that true love comes from with-in. The rest is passion, lust, companionship … These things are all great in the right context but none of them will make you happy. Only you can do that and not by external means. I have found that being alone has some very significant benefits. It allows you time to find out who you really are. When someone else is in the picture I do not think that most people can really truly be themselves. This is the part you sacrifice to be in a relationship. There are also gains. I guess my point is that life is a give and take. There will always be sacrifices and blessings and the key is to focus on the blessings.

  19. What Ryan above said. Hiding and loneliness are difficult things to grapple with. I have been married 21 years, but still find myself grappling with those same lonely feelings. Many times it is why I travel alone…so much so that I wrote a post about it.

Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”
    ― Janet Fitch, White Oleander

  20. Joy says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my life too but you said it so much better than I ever can. I was bitter for a long time that i didn’t have anyone to live my nomadic life with but after enough time passed and i decided to stop feeling sorry for myself I haven’t minded being single…UNTIL!…. well….you know the rest. I guess one of these times he’ll stick around right?? :-) It’s so nice to hear there are other people out there like me.

  21. Shirazi says:

    Just right. Keep going. Loved this note.

  22. Erica says:

    Been there. Done that. Haven’t been brave enough to write about it on the internet.

    When people ask me if I’m dating anyone (out of being nosy, not from being interested), I’m just going to send them to this post.

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
New here? Then Start Here.

Where am I and Where am I going?

Costa Brava Spain -> Barcelona

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