In yesterday's Tune Tape I included the new Strokes song One Way Trigger. It's a great new single, totally in-tune with their older material, and it got me in the mood to listen to their first album, This Is It - in my opinion easily one of the greatest albums of the last 15 years. When I first listened to it as a teenager, the song Last Night struck a real chord for me as a young girl starting out on the then-inexperienced road of relationships and sexual encounters. Listening to it at 22, though, I have found a new appreciation for the lesser-known hit Alone, Together - not just because recently, that's how I've been feeling. The song, with its typically Strokes-esque strong guitar riffs, masks some really great lyrics, that listening this time around really hit home hard. Allow me to copy and paste...

No choice now, it's too late
Let him go, he gave up
I gave up
Lisa says, "Take time for me"
Dropping him down to his knees
Ah, chest down...

Take me away
See I've got to explain
Things, they have changed
In such a permanent way
Life seems unreal
Can we go back to your place?
Oh, "you drink to much"
Makes me drink just the same

People tried. Felt so right
Giving themselves good advice
Looking down sometimes felt nice...

He knows it's justified to kill to survive
He then in dollars makes more dead than alive
Let's suck more blood, let's run three hours a day
The world is over but I don't care

I am with you
Now I've got to explain
Things, they have changed
In such a permanent way
Life seems unreal
Can we go back to your place?
"You drink to much"
Makes me drink just the same

The first time, it happened too fast
The second time, I thought it would last

We all like it a little different...

We've all heard of the acronym FOMO, and presumably know what it stands for. For those who have been living under a rock, or are over the age of 40, it stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and generally describes those types of people who's motto is 'Go Hard or Go Home'. Perhaps fortunately, I have never been a sufferer of this sort of phobia, but I have recently realised that I harbour a different, more serious fear. I suffer from FOBA, and it is the Fear Of Being Alone. 

A couple of weeks ago, my relationship ended. There was no tears or mess, we just both realised it wasn't working and decided to go our separate ways (I wish I could say all my breakups were as straightforward, but that would be lying). Unfortunately, no matter how uncomplicated, clean, or tear-free a breakup may be, there comes that moment when you think - I am truly alone. For some people, this comes as fucking great news. With their new-found 'alone-ness' they might take up a new hobby, sleep with an entire football team, or go on holiday with the lads/gals (delete as appropriate). For me, it's about as welcome a thought as an envelope full of dog shit. My FOBA reached its dramatic climax last week, when, half-way through The Notebook (I really am a break-up cliché), I realised that I have no 'Noah'. In fact, I might never have a 'Noah', or anyone willing to renovate a dilapidated property for me. And this terrified me. In between drunken sobs, I managed to dial my friend's number. After listening patiently to my wails, which were along the self-pitying lines of: "everybody I care about leaves, and everybody who cares about me I push away", he calmly, but forcefully, gave me his diagnosis. "You," he said, "have pretty much constantly been in a relationship since you were 14. What does that say about you?" I decided now was not the time to reply with "I'm in high demand (L.O.L)", and so plumped for a non-committing "dunno" instead. He sighed, obviously unappreciative of my ignorance to the situation, and told me: "B, you have a fear of being alone."

At first, I was indignant at this remark. I felt like he was palming all my relationships off as some kind of self-delusion; that they held no more significance other than a cover-up of a problem I didn't want to admit I had. But, thinking it over for a few days, I realised that what he said was true. I do have a fear of being alone, and it's not exactly a new thing. That's not to say that I didn't value all those relationships for what they really were: learning curves and memory lanes - some better than others, but all equally important and life-enriching in their own special ways. But it's true: I do hate to be single. I like knowing that I have someone there who is 'liable' to pick up the phone. Who texts you to ask about your day. Who wants to spend time with you, who thinks you're special, and likes to be close to you. It's also true that I feel more 'complete' when I'm in a relationship - that a previously empty space has been filled. But my conversation with my friend made me realise that this 'completeness' is only ever temporary - that the 'space' that I was filling with a boyfriend, never really goes away. Like the Strokes's song title, I now realise that it is possible to feel alone, when you are together. 

So what am I going to do about it? Well, I realise, like any other fear, that the best way to get over it is not to avoid it: it is to face it. To meet it head on, and to conquer it. I know this much: it's not going to be easy, or enjoyable, but, let's be honest, FOBA is not fair on anyone - be that yourself, or the poor guy who you choose as a temporary distraction. 

Ironically, I realise that FOBA is not unique to me; I am not alone in my fear of being alone. It's actually a pretty common anxiety, and usually - as in my case - goes unnoticed for a long time. But ask yourself; what is the bigger fear? The fear of being alone, or the fear of being incomplete within yourself? Relationships shouldn't be a mask you wear - they should be about a mutual love, respect, and understanding between two people, and within two people. Finding someone who 'completes you' is so wonderful because you didn't know you needed completing; it comes as a surprise. If you go out looking for someone to fill some sort of hole (in every sense of the word), you will never find them - for completeness comes from within yourself and radiates out of you. I hope, in time, I can radiate completeness too.

Do you suffer from F.O.B.A.?

Belle x

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