Last week, I lost my paternal grandmother. She had suffered from dementia for a long time and, in all honestly, I hadn't seen her in quite a while. So, while I was sad I was not overwhelmed, nor do I have any right to be.
More than a sense of grief, what the death reminded me of is a sense of aloneness, of solitude. And, not only because I found out because my mom saw the obituary online.
I was never close to my father's family growing up. They are a very close-knit family, but one whose closeness was centered on the church--and their church was the Lutheran one (Missouri Synod) and I was raised Catholic.
My parents divorced when I was two, my father moved away, and my only regular contact with his family was going to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners alone. I was one little kid at celebrations with people I barely knew and no touchstone, no person there that I knew well and could latch on to. In fairness, my grandma tried, but there was too much absence to make up for.
And, that's what my deep problem is. I have no ability to interact with groups. I can teach a class, but that is a different sort of thing; that is performance and I have a very specific role. Pedagogy isn't sociality.
I can't do one-to-many socialization. I couldn't do it then, and I can't do it now. And, so I can't feel a member of a group or comfortable with one, however that group is defined and however natural my membership in it might be. The closest I ever get is feeling connected to someone who is a member of a group, but that's not quite the same thing. And, other possible connections recognize the unease; it's not an attractive characteristic. (This unease has been attractive to a few people in my life and gained me a friend or two and one amazing partner.)
And, so I feel alone. And, usually, alone in a crowd.