Loneliness and isolation are not new to me. I’ve struggled with it most my life, especially as an adult. I’ve come to embrace every experience– the good and the bad– as a way to grow as a person. Grief hit me hard as a teenager, although I never really understood it until more recently, and I would never claim to ever have that figured out. Loneliness, however, is something I’m still dissecting.
When I moved to Vermont in my mid-twenties, I became my own best friend. Living alone and going to University, I found joy in cleaning out my closets and watching the crappiest shows, while eating black beans and sour cream (my husband cringes when I tell him this). I would go to bed whenever I wanted and belt out Mariah Carey tunes without anyone ever knowing. Social media was just starting to become a thing.
Most of my partying was over by then and it was time to grow up. I never found long-term satisfaction in alcohol or drugs and was aware that having come from a long line of codependency and alcoholism within the family, it was not the route I wanted to take. Instead, I visited the local tea shop and discovered a whole new appreciation for the perfect brewing temp on a cup of tea. I challenged things that I thought really mattered to me and embraced my new-found voice. If I hadn’t taken those years to do that, I never would have loved my husband the way I do and absolutely never would have been able to be a mom or move my family overseas.
Why the backstory?
Today here we are in New Zealand, under lockdown because of the covid19 global pandemic. We’ve been isolating for seven days but officially as a nation we’re on day five. I’ve addressed the fear in this time of uncertainty with the border closure and I’m not one who likes to participate in “toxic positivity”, a term Emily Writes has mentioned and that I appreciate. I see there is a lot to be grateful for, and there’s never a second where I’m not full of gratitude. But now I want to talk about the loneliness.
It’s not like how it was as a single Uni student in Vermont. I’m surrounded by two kids, a dog, and Husband. How can I possibly be lonely?
Well, I’m missing my best friend.
Me. I’m desperate for alone time so I can write and sing and paint and be the creative weird-o I am. We’ve had rain the past few days and it has been full on indoors.
When the kids go to bed, I’m lucky if I have an hour before my eyes close. Even then, I have to talk to Husband (no offence, honey!). So the other night, I made another cup of chamomile tea (my favourite) and tried to decide if I should watch the latest episode of “This is Us” (another favourite), or if I should listen to music and surf the net.
All of a sudden, all the tragic news from around the world gathered into the forefront of my mind and decided to bombard me with guilt. The weight of my privilege gave me a good sucker punch. I’m ashamed to have these choices while families are grieving around the world. I’m sick of myself. Sick of my self-loathing and shallow decisions between wood laminate flooring or carpet to go with which paint colour… blah blah loneliness… blah blah blah… now anger is about to settle in…
I have to be careful to not be too hard on myself, either.
Thus, a satirical character was created! I don’t know her name yet and I don’t know how many videos she’ll be able to post. But she’s basically me making fun of myself.
Because I have to do something to lighten the load. Maybe my brain can’t handle the turmoil right now… I can’t process it or even write it all out the way I usually process things. She only has two short videos up right now… the Instagram crowd seems to love her but Facebook isn’t quite so sure…
I have to laugh and I have to create and wahoo! now there’s social media to give me an audience.
Who knows, maybe she’ll become my best friend.
I have to ease the guilt.
I have to ease the sorrow.
All the while, never forgetting the loneliness that always remains.
Top things that give me comfort:
- Reading fiction
- Listening to good music (sorry, not Mumford and Sons)
- Watching movies
- Drinking chamomile tea
- Eating carbs (black beans and sour cream didn’t make the adulting list)
- Nature (birds)
- Snuggles with my family