Finding Yourself In Others

Decision of today, not to live (share a house) with anyone again. The impetus to this given by my discomfort at being told what to do and when to do it.

Patricia Highsmith, Her Diaries and Notebooks

I had just moved to live on my own for the first time in over 10 years, and was reading Patricia Highsmith, Her Diaries and Notebooks in a cafe, so no wonder this excerpt hit me. The freedom of being alone is tangible. I don’t blame people I have been living with - I’m overly sensible for people sharing the same space as me and it is mentally straining to keep my limits.

I love finding these relatable traits from memoirs. It almost feels like it makes a connection to that person and I envision myself understanding that person in that moment in history. In a way her life sounds familiar, which is strange considering she was of the same age with my grandparents, and their youth was completely different compared to my.

Went to the Finnish Hall tonight. We played “Mannerheim Line” in the stairwell. Such noise!

Patricia Highsmith, Her Diaries and Notebooks

I had not realised the “Mannerheim Line” was so well branded, that a young lesbian writer in New York was playing a parlor game named after it at the same time Finland was in a war in the 1940s.

My grandparents were living quite a different life in Finland at that time. My grandmother (around 17 years old) was left to tend her family’s cattle as others were evacuated farther from the border, or actively fighting the war. She didn’t have any food left, but luckily some Finnish soldiers came to stay at her home for a few nights. She noticed they had some crispbread and approached a young soldier to ask if she could have some of that. The soldier, probably away from home for the first time in his life, was happy to oblige. They ended up spending over 50 years together and I’m one of their offspring.

I have had this love story of my grandparents in my mind and I admire how they pulled it off. I have failed to replicate it. My lifestyle is much closer to the one of Patricia, even though I think I have subconsciously tried to follow the path of my grandparents. Especially in my first serious relationship, which left me quite burned out.

I may not be capable of love. I want something romantic.

Patricia Highsmith, Her Diaries and Notebooks

Relationships are a riddle which I have not figured out yet. I have three moderately long romantic relationships behind me and they follow exactly the same pattern. I’m excited in the beginning, but over the years I just lose interest and start feeling a strain from not being able to be what the other person wants me to be. It is agonizing to live a life that you don’t feel belongs to you. Younger it is easier to try to suppress that feeling, but as you get older, you get a tangible feeling of wasting your life and being trapped. But you also know how difficult it is to separate knowing you are causing that disappointment to a person you are fond of.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results

Possibly Einstein, but Internet seems to be inconclusive on this.

I seem to love romance, but I fail to follow through the love part. I find it less and less likely that I’d be enough for any single person, or that they would be to me. I don’t know how and with who I should live my life to be happy.

It is kind of alarming that the things I find relatable about Patricia Highsmith are not her best qualities - she ended up living the late years quite lonely and also got bitter, which manifested in ways that are not flattering. Personally I find it easy to forgive; to me it seems like a development path lonely people tend to follow. It is easy to turn invards and get suspicious of other people. Our social brain does not do well in solitary.

I don’t need to find the lovestory of a lifetime, it seems probable it will not happen, and even more probable that I’m not the kind of a person who would be happy with one.

But I do yearn for deep, meaningful relationships. What I should learn from Patricia’s life is not to end up isolated and alone - friendships are important. I would love to build my life in a network of friends I could trust. I’ll just need to learn how to do it. I have not been succesful at being in a relationship and fostering friendships at the same time.

I want to focus on the good and relatable things I found out about this intelligent writer and try to learn from mistakes she might have done.

Even though everything hasn’t gone the way I would have thought, I’m happy to live at a time I can be this unfinished even at my age.

Originally I ended this with “I’ll figure it out”, but that is not honest. I think I am ready to try something new, and look forward to seeing what it brings. I’m better equipped to handle life than I was during the study years when I was the most lonely in my life.