So this is going to be a seven-point list to keep things on track, but I’m not going to link it to 7 Quick Takes because it’s really for people who know me in person… Total strangers in Sweden and Australia and Ireland don’t need to inadvertently read this dump of misery. Unless they know someone who’s in the same boat, I guess.
Anyway this is all about how I’ve been for the past few months.
1. Let’s start with a song.
2. I’m lonely.
Man, just writing that, seeing it in black and white, before even thinking that someone is going to read that, is hard enough. Lonely to the point where it’s getting bad and scary. Lonely to the point where it comes out in these huge gulpy whiney sobs and tear-blobs. For months. I am alone from 7:30am to 5:10pm every weekday except Wednesday, which adds 6:00pm to 10:00pm, and every other Saturday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. On Sundays Mass is an all-morning thing and then it used to be that the alone would start again from 5:00pm to about 11:00pm, but now fortunately I have a friend’s house to go to then, when she isn’t busy and I feel ok enough to drive. I don’t see anyone but my husband most evenings, and we hardly ever go anywhere that isn’t the grocery store.
I guess people would say a couple things about that; either A. That sounds great! I’d love some time to myself to read, get some housework done, work on a craft project, dink around online, watch a movie or catch up on a TV show, not have to attend to the constant pestering needs of other people, take a break, relax, maybe even nap… or B. Well that’s just how it is when you’re married and have a kid on the way, it’ll just get worse when you have kids tying you down; people think you’re boring, you have to take the initiative and think of things to do with people and invite them instead of relying on them to remember to include you.
3. In response to A:
Have you ever read “Christmas Every Day”? Or the Irish folktale “A Month of Sundays”? First it’s nice. Then it’s ok. Then it’s boring. Then it’s lousy. Then it’s terrible. Then it’s intolerable. A break is nice. A vacation is nice. But they’re short, and fit between times of people, talking, being together, doing fun stuff or work or nothing with companionship. I’ve largely used up those activities. Well, in a sense anyway. After awhile I don’t want to do things by myself anymore. I start curling in on myself like a piece of leather drying up. When I’m ok, when I’m happy, cheerful, or just content, I’m not lazy. I do the dishes, cook something lovely, crochet another superfluous baby hat, do the laundry, pick up the creeping detritus around the place…
But when I’m not ok, when I want something to drown in so that I’m not faced on all sides by the fact that I am completely, dreadfully, horribly alone, that’s when I crawl back into bed at noon and hope that sleep will take the day away and replace it with a better one next time. That’s when I lose myself on the internet because it is the only thread connecting me to the world of conversation and people, and when new emails or Facebook words or blog posts or cat pictures come to an end, I don’t want it to end because then I will be left alone again, all alone without even pretend human contact. So I look and look, fruitlessly going back and forth from page to page, hoping for an update, wasting time that falls from the clock like tiny sugar crystals in molasses, every minute another sparkly crystal oozing its way over the lip, falling into a messy dark puddle on the carpet. It’s like a personal challenge: if I can bear existence until bedtime, maybe something will happen tomorrow. Maybe the UPS man will come tomorrow with a package that isn’t really for us and I can smile and look put together, haha someone mistyped her apartment number; Esmerelda Ermentrude St. John definitely does not live here. Maybe someone who asked for one of the religious items I am giving away will show up to receive what they asked for, and I will be excited all morning for the knock on the door to the point of getting dressed and brushing my hair, and I can offer a drink and lunch as barter for conversation and company. Maybe I will wake up motivated and not-sad enough to brave the blazing triple-digit heat, and finally return those two too-short dresses, telling the returns person that I didn’t think of sitting down when I tried them on, and that I hope it’s been fewer than 90 days since I bought them. I used to order Jimmy John’s delivery because for six bucks (including tax and tip) I have a reason to wash my face, wear real clothes, tidy up what can be seen from the front door, and know that something will happen, someone will knock on that door, I can talk to a living breathing person who I can see for 20 seconds – 90 if I get a good joke in – AND I get a tasty sandwich too. Sometimes these sorts of things happen. They can carry me for a couple days. Usually they don’t.
4. In response to B:
I do, I do, I really do, and sometimes someone will bite but lately they mostly don’t. Every other Tuesday, there’s a group that meets at my midwife’s office building called Nurturing Bellies, and I went every time for about 4-5 meetings, but the last two topics have been Breastfeeding (which is the same topic as the one I went to the first time and besides, I don’t have any born kids yet so it’s entirely theory for me, and I was not feeling well that day anyway) and Infertility and Loss (which I haven’t experienced so I would have nothing to say and would probably wind up even more morose and worried about this squirmy lump more than I already am) so I skipped. A day with a Bellies meeting in the evening (they start at 7pm) will be a good day because I have something to look forward to even if I don’t say a word past introduction the whole time. It’s still in-person people, and I know that if I did want to say something, there would be people to hear it and maybe even say something back. I look forward to midwife appointments too, because they’re an hour long, and the actual checkup part only takes 5-10 minutes, so the rest is pretty much whatever we want to talk about, and I love it. The rest of those days are good too; I am energetic and get things done because I know I will be going somewhere and doing something fun. Maybe it’s the fear of endless emptiness that’s so paralyzing.
Every other week for six weeks, so three Saturdays, I had family come over to help me with deep cleaning this apartment. There was a bunch of stuff that we just hadn’t ever found a good spot for from when I first moved in, furniture needed rearranging, and a lot of cleaning fluid was required which I didn’t want to huff considering there is a baby trying to grow in here and I shouldn’t pass along toxins. Those three days were fantastic. I made lunch and got to see people for an extended period of time. Now it’s over.
On the other hand. First some background. I see certain activities as things you do with other people, like going to a movie or a restaurant. Some things are not as much fun without other people, like going to the park or a museum. I have wanted to go see For Greater Glory since I heard what it was about, a few days before it hit theatres. So I made a Facebook status asking the general population of my friends if they wanted to see it with me on the Friday or Saturday that it opened. No one replied. Ok, I thought several days later, maybe I need to contact specific people so they notice it, and choose a particular day and time, so it doesn’t seem so formless and easily ignored. All right; I sent a message out to the 12 people I consider myself to be better friends with, who would mix well together if people from different circles said yes, and with whom it wouldn’t be weird to go with one on one if only one said yes. Well, I didn’t give much notice – asked on a Tuesday afternoon and wanted to go Wednesday at 6:50 – so it wasn’t ideal. Everyone who replied – about half the list – said they couldn’t go. Obviously the rest of them said nothing at all. In my defense, I did say that if tomorrow was too short notice, then next Wednesday would work as well. No one mentioned that at all.
The point of the background info, or why I don’t just go see it myself. Doing things which I think are group activities by myself simply grinds in the fact that there is no one with me, I am all alone, I have no one to share this experience with, no one to either snicker at me when I jump at everything sudden or who jumps with me, no one to talk about it with afterwards, no one no one no one. It’s worse than not going at all.
On Thursdays, club tradition has it that the people left in the area who haven’t gone home for the summer choose a restaurant each week and get together for dinner. I’ve been the one posting reminders and texting people, but few people show up when anyone does at all.
I posted awhile back saying I had sombrero pie and watermelon cake in the works and invited people to drop by. No one came.
I sent a whole bunch of grapefruit recipes to my mom per her request, and said I’d be happy to drive up any day to help her make them. No answer.
Yes. I chose this. I chose not to continue school and therefore see people in classes. (There were other circumstances which drove me to the choice, but the choice was of course mine in the end.) I chose not to get a job and therefore see people at work. (Same note.) So a lot of this isolation is basically my fault, because those are two broad solutions. I chose not to go to the Newman Center as often (due to the lack of free parking and the greatly undesireable shuttle trip there – a 30-minute one-way trip with NO shock absorbers, lousy AC if it’s even on, a very smelly interior, and wild velocity changes combined with all-day morning sickness is NOT my idea of acceptable transportation and I’ll bet the other passengers and the driver would agree with me) so I didn’t see my friends there as often. I chose to cut ties with the one person I could count on to show up and do stuff with me pretty much anytime because it was a horrible, poisonous, manipulative relationship. I chose to get married before I finished college and I chose not to take steps to postpone pregnancy. The thing is, I would make all those choices again. I had good reasons to choose them in the first place, and the only downside so far has been the isolation. In fact when I look at those choices and think about what my life would be like if I had not made them… I would not want that life. But there’s still the isolation, and it’s a difficult, lousy downside. So even though I own the choices that brought it about, I want to solve it through ways other than undoing any of those choices.
5. I do not blame any of my friends for this at all.
That is not my intention here. I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty. I just want to let other people know that this is going on, so it’s not me hoarding it all to myself until it comes avalanching down and my husband has to dig me out of it by himself. He’s very good at digging me out; hasn’t ever not succeeded yet, but it’s not right to make him deal with it all the time without any help.
I know that other people do have summer classes, full time jobs, family affairs, other friends, other hobbies, and that they do want and need to have the breaks I was describing earlier. Those things don’t include me and I understand that. I know that no one is obligated to make time for me. That doesn’t make it any better. Knowing that you accidentally broke your arm doesn’t make it hurt any less. Knowing that your grampa died because he was very old and all his parts were too broken down and tired to keep going, so really he didn’t leave you so much as he went to the Great Physician’s hospital for some much needed healing and rest, doesn’t make the pain of his loss from your life any less. Knowing that your parents are sleeping the deep sleep of the just because you were a brat all day and they are exhausted after having to wrangle a rotten kid who’s just two classes short of completely flunking sixth grade doesn’t make it hurt any less when you’re crying and crying in your room for hours at night and you just want someone, preferably Mom or Dad or felicity of felicities maybe even both to knock on the door or just come in but nobody does, for days weeks months years and eventually the past and present perfectly predict a future in which nobody ever comes, ever, and sleep means you aren’t awake to notice.*
Except sometimes people do come, and it is the best thing in the world. It means God is still in charge and the sun rises in the morning and baby birds are cute and the devil will lose and someone loves me.
6. I am sort of afraid to post this.
The last time the loneliness got far too painful to contain, my friends told me to see a therapist. Well. Not-yet-husband-heck-not-yet-boyfriend-even came over for three days straight and listened to my horrible incoherent ranty sobby confusion-spew FOR HOURS, talked to me, actually tried to answer my cruel questions borne of bewilderment and fright, took the nasty insults without getting riled up or even flinching, worked on setting me straight, and told me he would advocate for me to the rest. That’s what I needed. I needed a friend. I needed someone I knew to be with me. I needed companionship. I needed someone to talk to – and not a professional either. I didn’t need to be solved or fixed… I needed to be loved. Wanted. Acknowledged. Friends get rid of loneliness. Company gets rid of loneliness. Conversation and a shared meal get rid of loneliness. Therapists don’t get rid of loneliness unless you use them as very expensive surrogate friends, which has got to be really unhealthy. I am afraid to post this in case I just get shoved off again, as someone else’s problem, for someone else to deal with. Or just ignored. Or people think gee, I should do something, I feel bad… and then never do. Or they tell me all the reasons they don’t come over. I don’t need to hear their explanations. Like I said, I get it. People are busy and have things to do and I’m just one person who isn’t very involved anymore so it’s easy to set me aside or just plain not think of it.
Maybe this whole post is one big Just Sayin’.
But it needs to be said.
7. Let’s end with a song, too.