Friday, January 4, 2013

The Lone Cypress

I got a new tattoo yesterday -- the lone cypress.  If you're not familiar, it's a pretty famous tree on the California coast line.  It seems to be growing right out of the rocks, all by itself.  There are plenty of pictures of it on google. 

I often feel like this lone cypress.  It's a beautiful tree, standing strong, alone.  It's strength and courage - to be living like that right on a rocky cliff - are inspiring.  The tree is a symbol of independence for me. 

I've always been an independent person.  A loner, if you will.  I'm also highly introverted.  Being around lots of other people, while fun at times, drains my energy.  I once had a psychologist tell me that I had the least need to be around other people than anyone he'd ever seen.  (FYI: I went to this psychologist for career counseling when I was about twenty-five, unhappy in my first long-term teaching position, having no clue what I wanted to do.)  This man was recommended to me by someone else who'd gone to him.  I filled out hours-long personality and interest inventories.  While I don't really remember what he did tell me to do, career-wise (though I have the tape and paperwork, I could check), his assessment that I'm highly autonomous, freedom and independence are of utmost importance to me, and the bit about being perfectly happy alone for a vast majority of the time, have stuck with me.  I've always known those things about myself, but it was nice for some validation that it's ok to be that way, and it's just how I am wired. 

For the longest time, growing up, I thought something was "wrong" with me because I preferred being alone most of the time.  In fact, I've had many people tease me as a kid for "never talking."  I wanted to say back to them, "I talk, just not to you," but I didn't.  It's taken me well into my adult years to accept the person I am.  To not only accept, but to love the fact that I am so comfortable doing things alone.  I go to movies alone, travel alone, and even out to dinner alone. 

All this preference to being alone, however, does make it difficult to have long-term relationships.  The boyfriend I've been with for the past two years (my longest relationship to date, by far) is great.  He's the only person I've actually lived with except for family growing up and college roommates.  But I'm starting to question whether I'm cut out for this.  If I'm cut out to live with another person for the rest of my (or his/her) life.  If I wouldn't, in fact, be happier as one of those people who remains forever a bachelor(ette) and lives alone. 

Here's the thing.  I'm not someone who envies those with big houses, a spouse, children, etc.  I admire people who do their own thing.  Who aren't tied down or held back by anything.  Not that having a big house, nice things, being married, or having kids is bad.  Not at all!  If that's your dream, then by all means, make it happen!  It's just not how I see myself. 

This, too, was another source of contention within myself.  What is wrong with me that I don't have a long-term boyfriend?  (This was a prevalent thought in my 20s.)  What is wrong with me that I'm not married and don't have (or really want) kids?  (This thought began creeping up in my late 20s and early 30s.)  Aren't these the things we're supposed to want?  Aren't we supposed to "settle down" with a mate and reproduce? 

I've had fleeting thoughts that I'd like to have a baby and be a mother.  I believe I'd be a great mother.  I think I'd even like to be pregnant.  But those thoughts are always that -- fleeting.  It's nice in theory, but when push comes to shove, it's just not how I see my life going. 

I'm reading the book "Eat, Pray, Love" for probably the third time right now.  I can so identify with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  She was married and thought she'd be ready to "settle down" and have kids by the time she was thirty.  Then thirty hit and lo and behold, she panicked.  Her husband wanted kids, wanted to build a life together.  But try as she might to want that too, she just didn't. 

So back to my current situation.  I have a great guy for a boyfriend.  I know I can trust him and count on him.  He's what I searched for and in so many ways my perfect match.  So why do I have this sinking feeling that it's just not what I want?  I thought it's what I wanted.  But now I'm confused.  Or perhaps not really confused, but torn.  Torn between being who I am and not wanting to hurt someone else.  Torn between thinking maybe I just need some more alone time, and maybe I actually need to live alone.     

Am I a "lone cypress?"  This is the question on the forefront of my mind these days.  I know I'll figure it out.  I'm practicing letting go and giving it up to the Universe.  Everything will work out perfectly.  It always does. 

Quotes for the Day:

"There's a tremendous difference between alone and lonely. You could be lonely in a group of people. I like being alone. I like eating by myself. I go home at night and just watch a movie or hang out with my dog. I have to exert myself and really say, oh God, I've got to see my friends 'cause I'm too content being by myself."  (Drew Barrymore)

"Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement."  (Alice Koller)


  1. I don't think there's anything wrong with you. You are just you, and that's pretty fantastic. I am also an introvert. I identified with a lot of the things you wrote. I LOVE my alone time, and after being around people for awhile, I need to be alone to recharge, to nourish myself, to think. If you're happy being a lone cypress, then I think you should go for it!! :)