I’d Rather Be On My Own

Wisconsin Dells, July 1974

Wisconsin Dells, July 1974

I got this photo from my grandma’s neighbor last week when I went up north. My dad took that picture. We look like a normal, happy family on vacation in the Wisconsin Dells, if you don’t look too closely, if you don’t know the story.

I’m 12, almost 13 in this picture. I moved out at 15, and when I left, I didn’t look much different than this. I was too young, but other than food and shelter, I’d largely always been on my own. Moving out just made it official.

I remember this moment, and other moments just like it…me, trying to fit in…me, leaning towards them, trying to be touched…me, trying so hard to understand and be understood…and me, being flatly ignored and rejected because I didn’t fit their ideals.

I’ve always carried the belief that if I’m going to be lonely in a relationship, I’d rather be on my own. I can look at this picture and see where the seeds of this were born. I can look at this picture, and see why I left back then.

And now I can see how I carried the pattern in that picture forward to my marriage. All those pictures of me and him in my head – me, trying to fit in…me leaning towards him and trying to be touched…me, working so hard to understand and be understood…and me, the me I really am, being flatly ignored and rejected because I didn’t fit his ideals.

I understand now how my past set the foundation for years of accepting what should have been unacceptable in my marriage – that constant feeling of being still largely on my own. After trying for 21 years sometimes I felt too old to start over, so it took awhile to make moving on official this time. But now I look at those pictures in my head, and see exactly why I left…my unmet need to lean towards and be touched…my desire to be understood and accepted for me…and my constant current of unfailing belief that if I’m going to be lonely in a relationship, I’d rather be on my own.

~ cj 2013.06.27

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4 Responses to I’d Rather Be On My Own

  1. Dee says:

    Were you the eldest? You look so very young. You moved out two years later?

    • cjromb says:

      Yes, Dee, I was the oldest. And yes, I moved out about 2.5 years after this picture was taken, at 15.

  2. Jeff says:

    Great reflection CJ….and I feel I could transpose those words to many photos and memories of my own, including the 23 years I was married, yet under completely different circumstances. Wanting so bad to be as happy as others seemed in together things yet most comfortable alone with me, the real me, the one many still don’t seem to understand. The more I try to be like them the farther I seem to walk away from myself. It’s also kinda weird hearing my voice in your writing. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Steve says:

    Wow CJ. I didn’t know about that. I’m sure there’s lots I don’t know. That’s really young & gutsy to move out at that young age. This poem makes me wanna give you a hug. Not a pity hug. Just a glad your ok hug.

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