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 (err…climb 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.
Image c/o FASHIONFLASH