This has been a difficult week — and I feel very alone tonight.
How can I possibly feel lonely when I spend most of my days surrounded by people? I can talk with friends. I can talk with co-workers. I can even walk into half a dozen restaurants and stores nearby and find people who are glad to see me.
But none of that is any comfort tonight. The truth is that my surface-level interactions with most people make me feel profoundly alienated. Maybe it’s my fault. I really don’t know.
In the scripture which recounts the Jewish creation story, God realizes after He’s created Adam that he needs a partner. In Genesis 2:18, God is quoted as saying, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Although we rush right by this statement in the creation narrative, I think it’s one of the most profound theological insights of scripture.
We are not designed — on an internal psychological level — to be alone. That doesn’t just mean we need friends to talk with and companions to provide us conversation. It means we need the intimacy that comes from having a close and loving partner — from having two lives emotionally and physically become one. A partnership that consists of two individuals but which becomes something much more than the sum of the two.
I rarely think about air or water — as substances for my body — except in those rare cases when I struggle to have what I need. It’s the same way with a partner. It’s easy to take for granted when you have a healthy, loving partnership, but when it’s not there — and it’s desperately needed — it feels like gasping for oxygen — and feeling as though you’re going to die.
I’m thinking about this tonight because I feel desperately lonely. I feel empty in a way that can only be filled by intimate connection with a partner. A difficult and emotional week has made the need even more strongly felt than usual.
I feel like Adam wandering the world alone — waiting for the Eve who he can’t yet touch.
I’ve had several difficult conversations this week in which I’ve tried to explain things which are difficult for others to understand. (I don’t blame them. They have no context to understand some of my painful experiences.) I talked this evening to one of my sisters for about an hour. We talked about our feelings relating to our father — both past and present. It was cathartic to talk with one of the few people in the world who can understand the way I feel about this, but it wasn’t enough.
I need Eve to know my mind and my heart — to comprehend and acknowledge what I’ve been through and what I still live with — and to be able to say, “I understand why you feel this way and I love you no matter what.”
I suppose some people are really happy being alone. I wouldn’t argue with them and tell them they’re wrong. I only know that our Creator was right — and He had me in mind, too — when He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
People can have many different reasons for wanting a partner. It can be about money or sex or prestige or children — or any one of dozens of other reasons. Some of those apply to me, too. Mainly, though, I need an intimate emotional partner — one who I can take care of and who will take care of me. One who will understand me and allow me the privilege of understanding her.
The story tells us that Eve was created for Adam. But who was created for me? And who is willing to be my partner?
These are among the questions that won’t leave me alone tonight, because I feel desperately alone.
Note: The first song from the Decemberists’ new album — “Once in My Life” — is my melancholy soundtrack for the evening.