I spent the late night and early morning being mad at my friends for not being the kind of friend I’d like them to be.

When I suggest, through indirect language and hints that probably only I can understand, how they can help me, they don’t hear me.

It’s not their fault, though, because the way I ask isn’t clear. And of course, what I’m asking for has to pass through their filters and their own needs and worries.

So I dug down deeper to figure out how I can ask for what I want more clearly. I diagnosed my need in more specific terms. If I could see my lack, I could better remedy it, right?

And I did. I do. Suddenly.

My anger at my friends disappeared, parted like a fog, and I came face to face with the hole in my soul I’ve been trying to fill.

Everyone has parents, of course, in the physical, biological sense. But since those parents are living breathing human beings, complete with their own flaws, lacks, needs, strengths, perceptions… all of that, may not match up with what our own experiences and perceptions tell us we want or need.

Our physical senses are more attuned to detect change rather than continuity. We see surfaces, hear when pitch or tone rises or falls, become used to certain scents and only pay attention when a new scent is introduced. We see the gap between what is and what could be.

The gap between all that our parents provide us, and the things we think we need, create our hole. And then we can spend a lifetime trying to fill it up.

My parents offered me all that they had, all that they felt duty-bound to give. And true to human nature, I could only react to the gap, rather than be thankful for what was given.

Support. A hand to hold to lead me towards the better path. Guidance given in advance, rather than a critique after the fact. Effort expended in creating a safe environment for me to try, and comfort for when I tried and failed. Instead of projecting expectations on me, encouraging me to set my own goals and helping me to realize when I’ve achieved them – and celebrating with me when I did reach them.

I ache for these things from my friends because, I believe, my parents did not provide them to me. I want to be clear that I do not think these things were withheld from me on purpose or out of malice! Not in the lease. They acted in the way they thought best. And yet I feel the lack.

Can I fill this need myself? I’ve been unconsciously trying for my entire life and have not succeeded. Now that I’m aware, is it more possible? I don’t know.

For now, I will simply acknowledge the hole and see it as part of my story and my experience. I can operate without this support I think I need; indeed, I have developed habits to help me get around an absence of coaching. I’m successful at avoiding this barrier. My habits have created the safe space I once painfully desired. I live alone. I arrange my home so that everything has a place. I automate my bills and finances. I frequent places where I am known, I order the same kinds of food when I am there. I exercise by running pre-determined paths, and I set out on those runs like clockwork. When I interact with people I say the same things, talk about the same safe topics, and rarely venture beyond those boundaries.

Rather than be frustrated at these habits, as evidence of me missing out, I should embrace them. They are defenses, carefully cultivated over the years, that give me what I feel I need. In those actions, in that world I’ve created, I am safe. I rarely need guidance because I am rarely confronted with a situation for which I have no pre-planned reaction. Even when I take off for parts unknown, the options are few. Continue driving or find a place of rest. Look around. Observe, reflect – but don’t interact. Dance when I hear music, but don’t join in.

I like songs I know the words to. When I don’t recognize the song, I move on.

And I tell my friends about the things I do, and secretly hope that they would want to do them next time, too. But I feel sad when they seem content to simply hear about the last time. They have their own plans and needs, so they’re unable to join me, y’know, next time.

I have to go out there… alone? Again? Fuck.

I hate doing it alone.

…but I’ve been doing it alone for so long, I’m good at it.