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Your Call Has Been Disconnected…

Tonight, I had a conversation with The Guy I Am Currently Dating about “connection”. Not as it pertains to our relationship, exactly, but in general.

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this relationship with the rest of the world that involves a certain level of me feeling disconnected from everyone else, as if, on some deep-down, personal level, there are very few people who ever really know or understand me. For the most part, it hasn’t stood in the way of my social interactions with the world. I’ve always been an extrovert, the person who feels at home in a majority of surroundings and situations. I’ve always been the person who has a good number of “friends”, most of whom really fall somewhere in the spectrum between “acquaintances” and “people whose company I enjoy frequently, but who know relatively little about me as a person.” However, my need for deep, “connected” relationships has always been something I’ve felt and identified greatly, and I’ve been fairly lucky to establish a handful of truly wonderful, enduring friendships as a result.

In this way, I’ve become a pretty rare breed: the guarded extrovert. And, although I’ve started to let my guard down a bit more as I get older, I’m still much more comfortable being the center of attention at a party, amongst a crowd of people I’ll likely never see again, than I am initiating one-on-one friendships with others. I’ve never been the one to meet someone, say “We should go to Place X together sometime”, and actually follow up on that, with either men or women. I’ve never been the one to actively seek out someone’s friendship, and I’ve been told that, despite being an outgoing and friendly person, there’s something about me that keeps many people from approaching me. It always surprises me, to hear years later that a person I met once had a crush on me, but was afraid to ask me out, or wanted to invite me to a party, but thought I wouldn’t be interested. Someone who has since turned into a friend once described me as “aloof”, which I’m really not, once you get to know me. I suppose there’s just a part of me that’s extremely guarded, and extremely particular about turning “acquaintances” into “friends”.

In any case, I’m sure it’s completely my own fault that I end up feeling thoroughly “disconnected” from the world, and like kindred spirits are hard to find. To be honest, although I’ve met literally hundreds of new people over the past few years through organising and attending Meetups, it seems like ages since I’ve found anyone with whom I truly have shared interests, a sense of commonality, an enjoyable rapport, and whom I’d really want to get to know beyond the occasional drink or running into each other socially. Even amongst those I do count as good friends, most aren’t very much like me at all, and even though we’re friends, probably don’t always relate to me terribly well.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating asked me what I did in the past to overcome this sort of feeling, and whether it’s a relatively new phenomenon. It certainly isn’t new; it’s something that’s plagued me my entire life. The deep need for “connection” is one of the many reasons that led me into my years of polyamoury, as it’s easy to conclude that perhaps the idea of one person you connect with on every level is rather unrealistic….yet, for people like myself, it’s impossible to ignore that need to know there is someone who relates to you, likes you, shares with you, understands you, or perhaps, is much the same as you—even if that person ends up being multiple people. It’s led me to trying to fill that need with meeting a parade of new people, mistaking that need for an interest in hooking up or dancing at clubs every night, seeking connection through intoxicants of all kinds, and even a brief, doomed flirtation with yoga. It’s also led me to things I never thought would be my cup of tea, such as my addiction to internet chat rooms back in the day, or joining a poetry community. It’s led me to experiment with virtually everything there is to experiment with, and, ironically, as I found myself making choices that increased the number of skeletons in my closet, it led me to feel even more guarded, more disconnected. However, it hasn’t been all bad. It’s led to me moving to different cities, having some life-changing friendships and relationships enter (and in some cases leave) my life, and taking chances on new jobs and new hobbies, and even starting a blog. *laughs*

Honestly, I’m not even sure what I’m looking for half the time, I only know that something’s missing…and it usually has to do with the idea of finding my voice, expressing it, and connecting with the world in a way that leaves me feeling understood and validated in some way. It’s possible that this desire has little to do with friendships, or relationships, but is a common feeling amongst artists that haven’t found a creative voice, that simply aren’t *engaging* with the world in the right way.

However, I do think a majority of the world spends a lot of time being largely disconnected, and the more reliant we become on Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, and texts, the more disconnected we become. I feel it on a personal level, every time someone tells me they don’t read my blogs or my e-mails because they were simply too long, or went on about feelings too much. Every time, I feel even more estranged from the rest of the world, and I miss those days when my Inbox was filled with long e-mails from friends, and remember how much I looked forward to that genuine type of connection. I’m as much to blame as anyone else, since I let either those friendships lapse or the habit of such honest communication fall by the wayside, largely because I began to lack the time and emotional energy to keep up. But, on days like today, I genuinely miss being connected with in a way that’s beyond the mundane, the ordinary, and the “safe”. I miss knowing people who wear their emotions on their sleeves, in their words, through their art, and have a genuine need to express who they are rather than hide it, or from it. And, I am somewhat grieved to know that time has turned me into an example of the latter, rather than the former.

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