“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” – Carl Jung
I adore Carl Jung’s work, not only as a renowned psychoanalyst, but as a pioneer of the exploration of the shadowed self. (And, of course, he’s an INFJ as well)
I have read this quote numerous times and always appreciated its meaning, however that meaning deepened and became far more personal to me in the recent past. When I came across this quote again recently, I recalled a discussion I had with a friend not long ago:
At one point he’d become frustrated because as he was talking, he would pause for a moment to allow me to interject, and I could only offer silence or a few awkward, fragmented words. People often get frustrated with me because of this. They think I’m holding out, holding back, afraid to speak my mind, afraid to tell the truth (and que es veritas, anyhow?).
What people cannot understand is in the midst of an intense conversation, I’m asked a question or expected to respond and a multitude of thoughts rise in my mind like the bubbles in a boiling pot of water. Add to this being an Empath; the onslaught of all of my feelings, all of their feelings, the rolling avalanche of all things past and the run away train of what is to come….
It’s a wonder I can speak at all.
And yes, in true INFJ fashion, I have mulled over the countless things I wish I could have said at the time, all the reasons I could not, and knowing that even if I had, the chances they would have been received the way I intended are slim. It is truly a double edged sword; An INFJ that cannot quickly organize their thoughts coupled with the Empath’s cautiousness lest they say too much. As I mulled this over, it was difficult to identify exactly how I felt, which sort of struck me. Empaths are experts when it comes to feelings, right? It wasn’t quite sadness or regret, it wasn’t anger or resentment, and then I came across this quote again, and it felt like a boulder landed on my chest.
It was loneliness, and not just loneliness, but several interpretations of it.
It was the loneliness you imagine someone felt watching a lover waving good-bye as a train left the station in one of those old movies. It was the loneliness a child feels watching all the other children play and not being invited to join in because they’re not very good at the game. It was the loneliness you feel when a group of people laughs at an inside joke that you’re not privy too and end up sort of feeling like the punchline.
It is a crippling and sometimes maddening loneliness, because yes, I want to be able to express exactly what’s happening in my mind at the time, but it could take weeks, maybe months to completely understand it myself. By then, the moment has long since passed, and it’s too late to turn to it again. This is why in a room full of people, even if it seems like I am having the time of my life, this feeling of perpetual solitude is draped over my shoulders and wrapped around me like an old shawl. Sure, I wear it well, but to most others it looks more like Linus’ blue blanket than anything else. I must admit, it does offer me a sense of security. It’s often easier to let others assume what they like rather than add to the confusion by trying to explain, especially when I haven’t fully grasped the concept yet myself.
And then what of this innate gift of mine? What am I supposed to do when I know that even the most accurate, concise phrasing of my thoughts are going to destroy the person? After some thought, or at some point in the future, I could have said to this person “look, I wasn’t lying or trying to flatter you when I said you’re a good person, because in many ways you are; but don’t think I don’t know, that I haven’t always known that you’re also a monster.”
(At this point, the dejection and cold rage would set in, and if it were possible for me to continue, it would go as such)
“If that bothered me, I wouldn’t be standing here having this conversation.”
(Now, you have to try and understand the context here, because while some people would possibly find some solace in those words, the person in question is not just some person. This would ultimately be my undoing, because in their mind, a truly good person would NEVER accept a monster. It is the great “fuck you” of the ages. People always say they want to be loved and accepted for exactly what they are, but when that happens the one who does typically ends up being resented for it. Please note too that “monster” is subjective; it has more to do with the way this person sees themselves. Not that there isn’t a modicum of truth to it, but guess what, it’s true for pretty much everyone, some are just better at hiding it than others)
I could go on, but even now, I find it difficult to continue. There’s a sense of futility that I cannot for the life of me seem to shake. Plus, this is only one example. This has happened at least once with every single person I have been close to. There have been times when I was gifted the chance to revisit these thoughts and convey them. I am immensely grateful for those times. However, that is the exception, not the norm.
And so it goes. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to finish this, maybe not. However, should the chance arise, I promise you, dear readers, I will try to see it through.