Tracy’s newfound freedom took getting used to. Walking along a street, she was careful not to jostle anyone. In the penitentiary, bumping into another prisoner could be the spark that set off a conflagration. It was the absence of menace that Tracy found most difficult to adjust to. No one was threatening her.
– If Tomorrow Comes, Sidney Sheldon –
We all go through phases in our lives where we are almost completely alone. We learn to take care of ourselves, to keep everything to ourselves, and to shut everyone else out. It doesn’t necessarily apply only to being single; it could happen in any circumstance of life — moving to a new country, moving back to a home country, or even starting a new job. We know we have to depend on ourselves more than ever before, and in the end we become so self-possessed that we are in danger of being unable to relate to other people anymore.
But then life takes a turn and suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where it’s not just about us anymore; now there’s someone else, there are other people involved. We know it’s time to remove that armor and learn to let them in, and yet we still subconsciously keep our guard up, terrified that at any given moment we could do or say something that would actually give us reason to duck behind it again. So we take a backseat to everything, knowing we can’t really go back because we’ve gone too far by putting our cards on the table, and yet too ambivalent to move forward. Why do we make it so difficult for ourselves to break out of this prison — a prison of our own making at that — and allow ourselves to go through a phase of which we have long been bereft?
Maybe because when we were taken out of this prison, the overwhelming sense of freedom without bounds made it all too much to handle, so we went back to the one place where we knew was safe, even though we had been alone. Freedom may know no bounds, but not life, and certainly not the more complicated aspects of life. So maybe we need to define them, because until we do, we’re stuck in this limbo, where the lines could become so blurred that we don’t know where they fall, and we don’t know what the rules are and how to act, and we end up losing more than we could ever afford to.