Alone, Not Lonely

“Everybody Needs Somebody”

by Nada Alturki

I am a stranger to myself. I can’t remember the last time I sat there and read a book all day, which was something I did for days on end when I was younger. I can’t remember the last time I gave a day purely to myself, to think, to write, to cry, to breathe, I can’t remember. I’ve been wrapping myself up with the skin of other people and filling my time with unknown feelings, empty words, and withering thoughts.

Photos by   Ningze Han

Photos by Ningze Han

I’ve been wrapping myself up with the skin of other people and filling my time with unknown feelings, empty words, and withering thoughts.

As I sat in the Public Garden this past summer with one of my closest friends, everything was green. A line of ducks decorate the pond, willow trees cascading over family picnics, dogs driving their owners, couples holding hands, and sunshine all around. Yes, the sun, gracious and merciful. At least I had the sun to keep me warm. Flashforward to a rainy and bitter Boston October. Although my surroundings have dramatically transformed into a quaint coffee shop on Newbury, nothing has changed. People are still in love, and I am still alone.

I sit here and think about all the past relationships I’ve had. They flash through my eyes in a supercut: Stoner Prince Charming, who asked me to never speak to him again because sex was something I took off the table, my first boyfriend who wrapped me up with all his love until I couldn’t breathe, the Adventurer who knocked on my door for so long that his knuckles have bruised—I couldn’t let him in, and the Skater Boy and all the kisses he stole from me. I think about them all, until there is nothing left to think about. I analyze every fleeting moment, every quiver and every goodbye. We train ourselves to believe that the reason we feel so heartbroken is that we are on our own now, and always fail to realize that the reason is simply that we had been dating the wrong person.

I’ve dedicated my existence to finding my prince charming and living happily ever after, scavenging the male offerings of the world in the hopes that one will make me feel worth all the heartbreak, wracking the internet trying to find an article that tells me exactly how to pin down a Ryan Reynolds, starving myself in the hopes it will change my outsides to look pretty, all to my dismay. I found nothing. And I broke down. I ran all the way home that night in tears, salvaging the last drops of gin I found in my kitchen. I cried until I was dehydrated and a little nauseous, my eyes a shade of pink, bloody veins running through. And I sat there in the silence as I calmed down and realized I was alone. Truly.

But I was still breathing, and my lungs carried me all the way to the last heave before my tears had surrendered.

So I decided to destroy the seemingly-evergreen notion that everybody needs somebody. I picked it up and smashed it to pieces, until it was only fragments of what it was. That was the best I could do.

I can’t tell you that I’ve found the secret to loving the loneliness that overshadows my existence. I can’t say that I’ve found the secret to self-love or a remedy for self-hatred. I can’t say i know the reason I don’t think I deserve love, but I will die trying find out. I will die trying to kill the voices that tell me humans need to exist in pairs. We are born to stand alone. Because yourself is the only person who will fight for you ‘til death do you part.

I’ve stood by my side through all of this, every heartbreak and every splashing tear. I was there for myself as I walked all the way home to Allston from Back Bay, listening to the sound of my quiet, all the way through, asking myself why I wasn’t enough.