On Feeling Disconnected


Is not being able to bridge the gap between yourself and someone else the loneliest feeling? I’ve been revisiting this question a lot lately, because amidst the current chaos of my life I figured some extra existential dread couldn’t hurt.

I’m talking about very specific moments: realizing you have absolutely nothing to say to someone you once wanted to say everything to; realizing you never understood someone, or they you, in the first place. Or, perhaps, never even reaching the point of delusion, knowing full well from the beginning that no matter how you put your words together they won’t be interpreted properly by the other party. There will be lots of nodding, and a sprinkling of “yes, yes,” but you will walk away feeling empty, as if you just spent the evening talking to a wall.

It’s not a reflection on the other person, really. Instead, it’s about the labyrinthine formulas that each of you use to view the world simply not meshing well, not meeting anywhere near halfway. You’re both lacking something that the other one wants or, maybe, requires for the longevity of any relationship—be it friendship or something more.

It’s that moment when you put something out there that is weighted with meaning for you, and it falls flat. The response is not what you expected, perhaps what you were yearning for. It sits there and stares at you with a cruel smirk on it’s non-existent face, and you spend the rest of your time together melting down inside because your inner teenager just wants to be understood.

In the same vein, people place their own symbols in front of us and we often stare straight through them. Our clunky language, or our lack of commentary altogether, is not necessarily what they were looking for either.

It’s wanting to get to know someone and realizing you can’t—you guys use different tools, operate on levels that don’t overlap. Or wanting someone you feel you do know to know another part of you, but lacking the right words to convey the message. It’s the cold silence after certain sex, the cocktail party banter that fades too fast, or staring a friend, a relative, or a lover in the face and realizing they’re simply not seeing you at all.

On the simplest level, it’s the inability to read each other’s codes.

It’s inescapable, sure, but no less painful because of its omnipresence. These human hurtles don’t go away, I’m learning, but perhaps become easier to leap (errclimb slowly?) over. Maybe because we are more at ease with the unknowing, or the sting of silence, as we age—or simply because the disconnect wound is no longer fresh, but more like an eternal scab we pick at from time to time, a mark we’ve simply decided to submit to.



1 reply »

  1. I recently broke up with my boyfriend for this exact reason. I felt like I couldn’t connect with him at all no matter how hard I tried. I pinned all my anger and hurt on his inability to understand me. But after some reflection, I understand that I couldn’t connect with him simply because I couldn’t connect with myself (sorry if I am being cheesy). Everything we do in life is based on how we grew up. How we were raised. The relationships we formed with our parents. How we internalised the external world. If you think about it, we are all born the same, free of all inhibitions, social pressures and anxiety. We eventually develop reactions to certain situations based on what others do around us and what is seen as ‘normal’. So for example: If my father runs away when I am three and my mother raises me, I may grow up to believe that all men are distant and may tend to go for ’emotionally distant types’ to try an reenact what was familiar in my childhood because that’s what feels safe and normal to me. Essentially, what I am trying to say is that the way we behave and feel in certain relationships is based on our own insecurities and beliefs and may not necessarily be true in a wider sense. So when you feel a disconnect with others, it could simply be because you are battling to understand yourself, or vice versa. I am still learning myself, and really enjoyed this! Thanks for the article. Please let me now if you discover more.

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