“I want to be alone!”
“Why won’t anyone leave me alone?”
“I’ve never been so alone in my life…”
– Greta Garbo in various roles.
I recall staring at the newspapers, waiting to experience the apparent magic-eye phenomenon that was happening for people who could read. At age 3, my mother gave me the heads up on how it worked and reading took prominence in my life forevermore. I was a self motivated learner with a passion for knowledge but I also took pleasure in being praised for my accomplishments and intellectual stature. Throughout my youth I remained a competitive scholar but naive and unworldly.
I internalised Catholicism into an intensely private mysticism and as a seven year old kept myself awake at night contemplating the horrors of the end of consciousness. I secretly took up a yoga discipline and later my mother enrolled me in a mind optimisation seminar which I eagerly embraced. I developed a lifelong obsession with efficiency, primarily motivated by my desire for having more time to dedicate to my own interests. Creative and artistic, I concentrated my fine art skills primarily on representational art.
Clumsy and accident prone, I loathed all athletic activity. I was often unhappy with what I was forced to eat. I was very sensitive to colour and light, often aggravated by television and preferring to read in a quiet space. Also sensitive to the arrangement of objects, I found a languaging of meaning in placing objects in symbolic relationship. I was easily traumatised by sudden changes such as pruning.
Unexpressed resentment of feeling controlled manifested in chronic eczema. I felt trapped in family stagnancy and constantly craved freedom and solitude. Biding my time as a child, I envisioned myself as an adult who was free from family and duty. I was susceptible to sibling rivalry, particularly around inequalities in gender roles that limited my opportunities for new experiences. I loved nothing more than to be left alone in the family home to feed myself and concentrate on my own investigations.
In adolescence, I continued to be a self disciplined student, though somewhat superficial in my academic thinking. Deeper thought was spent on understanding the dynamics of life around me, fuelled by status anxiety. Despite always having enjoyed a sense of intellectual superiority, I was plagued by a new sense of socio-sexual inadequacy. I repressed all expression of emotional and sexual energy, leading to throat and neck blockages. I cultivated secret obsessions toward love interests but lacked the self esteem to act upon these desires. Friendships were close and few.
Early Adulthood: Opinions
Leaving home at the earliest possible moment, I was able to begin to realise my need for freedom. I studied Fine Arts at university, allowing an explosion of repressed vitality to express through me into a prolific body of work. It was a time of self exploration, experimentation and hedonism. Peer appreciation flavoured with sexual adventure coaxed my ego out and fed into a sense of destined self-importance that flourished within the bubble of academia.
Emerging into the real world was another matter. With no real plan or sense of the real world, I crash landed into fear and feelings of futility and inadequacy. I tended toward obsessive petty intellectual and creative competition with peers and partners and rambled along on a shoestring for a decade on the urban bohemian fringe. I identified as an outsider and an artist and I made do with various bizarre bit jobs, each inevitably expiring once they ceased to teach me anything new about life, the universe and everything. Money was never a motivation beyond the guarantee of subsistence, and my engrained efficiency imperative served me well as thrift and ingenuity. The work ethic has always been the same: time is more valuable than money.
This prioritised wide personal exploration into the meaning in mystic traditions, science and self. Artistic expression was channeled into giving form to thought processes and ideas. In my mid 20s I reached a crisis in meaning, which led to a deliberate, intensive deconstruction of my own psyche, eventually leaving me alone in the void. This was a precarious time for me but I clawed my way back into meaning through the big bang, chemistry, physics, quantum reality, and before I knew it I was full of wonder again, tentatively filling out my world view with my own symbols and my own meaning drawn from the world of religion, philosophy, science and myth. I was on the path to authenticity and the horizon felt wide open for the first time. I began to enjoy the flow of synchronicity and abundance for the first time.
Meanwhile, the long suffering body of the bachelorette was carrying nearly three decades of chronic pain, due to being ignored as the merely inconvenient genetic jumpsuit of a fabulous mind.
Into Maturity: Principles
The open horizon led me out into the remote desert shanty town of one hundred people where I have now lived for ten years. I have put my roots down in a commitment to a garden, a home, a life. My creativity now flows directly through my life and being. My home is a beautiful expression of myself. Finding contentment in self reliance and simplicity, I have liberated much time to follow my own pursuits. Music, astronomy, universal symbolism, wisdom traditions and so on… My consciousness is constantly expanding and I am always reading and learning, yet I have finally surrendered the ego’s need to greedily consume all knowledge. I don’t need to preserve every good idea in a phrenetic journal. I can trust that I know what I need to know right now. I can lovingly embrace cosmic uncertainty and accept truth in myriad contradiction and paradox.
This newfound, or perhaps remembered peace has integrated my expression of feeling. Intimate relationships in the past have tended to start with an obsessive lightning bolt impulse, followed with a tedious monogamous melodrama, ending with me disappearing into a new life. Apart from the occasional brief wrestle with the reproductive imperative of the organism I inhabit, I have never had any desire whatsoever to raise children. I also prefer not to be around other people doing it. I have reached a point where I can probably even resist the mayhem of ‘falling in love’, and let it pass by without entangling myself into domestic pair bonding, to which I seem entirely unsuited due to my growing intolerance for other people and their mess in my zone. I don’t feel any lack in not being tethered to another. On the contrary, I feel deeply grateful for the space in my bed, in my home, in my mind. I absolutely love the presence of my animal friends and the tactile bond we share. I enjoy immeasurably the company of my dearest friends, my tribe, but short spells are best as I become resentful and easily exhausted when I don’t have a good amount of time undisturbed.
This time alone is especially important for me to cultivate body consciousness, which is essential for my health and wellbeing. I absolutely need to choose (and preferably grow and harvest) my own food and feed myself or I easily become energetically imbalanced, disembodied and fatigued which results in chronic posture related pain. As I find it immensely difficult to commit to a healthful routine, such as morning qigong, I am very easily thrown off course by the habits and needs of others. For this reason, I now tend to ensure that my mornings are kept to myself for waking naturally, writing, eating well and exercising. Successfully regaining and managing good health and pain free life has been a tremendously rewarding, if not tenuous accomplishment in recent years, and one that I am open to sharing as a casual massage therapist for local people.
Despite being an outsider all of my life, people tend to tend trust my peaceful consistency as a sign of a sage and charming mentor, but I now pretend less than ever to know all and I always add a disclaimer with any tentative offer of advice. I feel that the only real thing I have to offer others is by example in living consciously. This doesn’t mean blasting people with intense cosmic truths as was my way in younger years, but to simply be able to be present with others. I am getting to know myself and how to set boundaries to meet my own needs. I have the good fortune of recently finding the perfect little day job for me to supplement my lifestyle – working in the small local library in the afternoons, one week on, one week off. Aside from being delightfully nerdy and self directed, ticking some important boxes for me, it puts me contact with people in the tolerably impersonal context of discussing books and ideas…
And that’s what Phase III for a female INTP can look like. Alone but never lonely. Creative, mindful, spacious. Self disciplined, self empowered, self defined. Free.