National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
I don’t really know how to start this post, to be honest. I’ve written, deleted, and rewritten so many times in the past few days. Full disclosure- I was totally prepared to make week 3 a bye-week and not even bother. I’ve been feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and increasingly agitated. But after a ton of self reflection, I realize that the true underlying issue here is exactly what I’m aiming to overcome: Fear.
This week has thrown me for a loop, between the tragic & unexpected loss of a friend, exhaustion & sickness, all wrapped up in being totally alone- and though I originally had a different idea to tackle, the one I’m facing right now was kind of thrown into my lap and I really have no choice in the matter. So I’m going to embrace it, feel it, and write a pointless thing about it. That being said, I’d like to apologize if I come across as disjointed and unorganized- it’s hard to put my thoughts in their boxes right now.
Loneliness. The word itself is palpably sad. Honoré de Balzac was a 19th century writer who said, quite aptly, that “Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.” I’ve come back to that quote time and time again over the years; mostly during times of joy in my life, but more recently in a time of bleak despair. The sudden passing of someone who has been part of my memories since before I knew I was making them has totally changed the way I’m experiencing my own fears right now, & my heart is breaking for his friends and family- and for him. Seeing my own mortality so plainly and unpacking my deepest truths are exhausting- and the message here is abundantly clear- we, as humans, have an instinctual need for connection for our very survival.
I am painfully aware of my brain’s chemical imbalances. I have to be- for fear of them sneaking up and taking over when I least expect it. As such, I’ve found the easiest course of action is to compartmentalize each dark part of myself and keep a close eye on their confinement. I have diagnosed depression & anxiety, and though I present as outgoing and social- there is a deep, strong undercurrent of general melancholy that has ebbed & flowed within me my entire life. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it has always provided a frightening sense of L’Appel du Vide for when I’ve dared to look at it for too long. It’s a daily struggle for me not to just jump in and drown in it. I’ve always identified as a “strong, independent woman” and somewhat of an introvert. Though this is true- I have NEVER actually been alone. At almost 29 years old, I’m experiencing lonely independence for the very first time. And this solitary existence slips beautifully into the space that the ever-present loneliness makes for it. And it’s so fucking scary.
It seems like such a silly thing to be stressed about, the fact that my roommate (& best friend) is gone for work. It’s not like we’re inseparable, or totally reliant on each other for company in any capacity. But I’ve grown to just expect his presence; to know that my coffee will be ready in the morning, that the food I cook will be eaten, that the best interests of my son & household will be upheld by two present and responsible adults. Even though I can be considered a “single mom,” I’ve never really had to experience it. With his unspecified time away, I’m finding it more difficult than ever to just exist. I now have to take on the entirety of the household; from general upkeep of the physical home, to the mental and emotional wellbeing of those in it. I’m now the sole cheerleader for my son’s achievements, and the only one to dole out punishments. I have to motivate myself, instead of using my roommate as a silent competitor. Even though he’s a phone call away, it feels like light years.
My son’s dad is far away, my mom is far away, my roommate is far away, and my friends are all grown-ass adults with their own lives and issues. I know they’re always 100% there if I need them, and that’s never been a doubt for me. But realizing for the first time that I have to manage my own life (& my son’s!) is a humbling experience. I applaud those who can be alone with themselves without being afraid, because it’s not something I’d ever planned on doing. And what makes it so scary is the ever-present current of depression/loneliness is closer now than ever before. It’s a bit like laying in the bathtub with your ears submerged… the silence is magical, the warmth is comforting- but all it takes is one little disturbance, and suddenly you’re suffocating.
The first step toward combating anything is acceptance- so here it is. I’m not as strong as I think I am. I’m struggling without the human connection. Staring at a screen with the world on the other side is NOT a substitute for companionship. We are so bombarded with distractions every day it becomes harder to remember what a true connection feels like- until we have one and it’s left as an unfamiliar rawness. Admitting to my girlfriend today that I was lonely was something I was totally unprepared for- and her response was equally impactful. Even though I passed it off (unconvincingly, I’m sure) as a casual statement, her reaction was to immediately hug me and make plans to come over. Not a questioning “do you want to hang out?” But a real, genuine, decision that I had no part in making. None of what I was afraid of was there- no judgement, no frustration, no pity. Just a genuine connection from one human to another. And it was refreshing, and comforting, and the brightest part of my day. Besides the mousse cake, of course. And in that, the idea of actually opening up to my companions doesn’t seem so “desperate” anymore.
If you take anything from this rambling, I hope it’s this:
Tell people you need them. Tell them you love them. Tell them you’re scared or hurt or lonely. Tell them you’re proud and happy. Be kind, be present, and let them know it’s okay. Life is too precious to waste, and too short to be spent suffocating.
“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.”