Monday, May 7, 2007

The Curse of the Loner

One of the things I’ve been pondering over the last few years is why I often seem to prefer my own company and if in doing that it makes me a loner. I am not naturally gregarious. In fact if I was writing a profile for a dating sight I’d probably put down that I’m better in small groups and prefer staying home to partying all night. That is in pretty stark contrast to both my sisters who are now and always have been social animals. So the question then is this – what was different in their environment to mine that made me so different in those terms to them.

Looking back there are a few things that stand out to me. Firstly, my only friend when I was a toddler and before I went to school was Anthony Hoogen who lived across the road from us. Like most of our adult neighbours we called his Mum and Dad Aunty and Uncle because that was the norm in those days. Anthony had a sister Frances who was my sister Karen’s age and I seem to remember that we were playing together a lot.

I have this vague memory of Anthony starting school so he must have been a bit older than me and some time in that year he and his family moved away from the neighbourhood. I can remember crying because he was my only friend at that stage and although Mum said we’d visit and keep seeing them the visits were few and far between. I think that we lost contact not long after that and I don’t really have any knowledge of what happened to the Hoogens after about the time I was seven of eight years old.

So that was one incident which coloured my upbringing, the other, which I have mentioned before, was my Dad’s drinking. That made me wary of having friends around and in fact once I got to school I was always reluctant to invite people over because I worried about whether Dad would come home drunk and if he did whether there would be a yelling and screaming match between him and Mum. Much safer in my eyes to simply avoid the possible embarrassment by not having people around.

So I learnt to entertain myself. My bedroom was my refuge, the place I could escape, and a haven where I could lose myself in books and comics and as I got older in listening to music. Of course I made friends, but I think I have always held back from making true deep connections with people.

When I worked in the year before going to university I didn’t socialise with my workmates, at University I have not retained any friendships, nor did I really pursue any during those times, even my 16 years in the police force has not lead to any lasting social friendships with people I see on a regular basis.

I do wonder if I exude a kind of aloofness that keeps people from connecting with me. There’s been a few instances this year when members of the senior basketball team and other committee members have gathered at someone’s place for a barbecue and I haven’t been invited. Maybe people are aware of the barriers I’ve erected and carried since I was five years old.

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