At first, I didn’t recognize it. And then, I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I knew I had felt it before, but it must have been a long time ago, because I still can’t remember exactly when. It finally introduced itself - rather matter-of-factly, and rudely, too, giving me no indication of how long it would stay and apparently not offering me much choice.
It has materialized in paralyzing fear and sadness. And in the ability to come up with scads of excuses not to get out of bed every day. It loves naps. It loves television. It loves blank stares in the mirror.
It hates quiet, but it hates noise. It hates people, but it hates solitude. It hates plans, but it hates having nothing to do. It hates not getting anything done, but it hates doing anything. It hates time passing, but it wishes the days would go by faster.
It loves a reliable Benadryl or two in the afternoon because it forces sleep. It craves sleep. It wants to be tired. It wants a moment or an hour not to be angry or sad.
It loves the phone ringing for the first time in a week, but it hates to answer because it doesn’t know what to say. And if it says too much, it might explode…or cry. It loves to see others living and playing and having fun, but it hates the idea of interacting. It really just has no idea how to interact. It’s helpless, but I think it wants help. It seems to want to dream. It wants to escape. It wants to live, but it’s not crazy about living right now.
Now, it feels guilty. It knows it’s not this serious. It’s not cancer, for God’s sake. It’s not a tragedy. It gives itself too much credit. It’s just the result of too much time. It should find something to do. It should just shut up and carry on. It is just loneliness, after all.
The house is empty again. The house will be empty from now on. I want to fill it up with happy sounds. I want to fill it up with laughter. I want to fill it up with hope. I want to fill it up with good thoughts. I want to fill it up with thoughts of anything other than myself.
I never see my only child anymore. It’s been the two of us for almost all of his sixteen years. He is my only family. And because of this, he’s really been my best friend as well. Now, he’s living his life, growing up, becoming independent, all the things he should be doing. And, I’m very proud and happy for him. But, suddenly, I have no idea what to do with myself. I don’t feel comfortable doing anything. Or being around anybody. I’m in an awkward phase, I suppose.
Local friends only exist in sporadic e-mail now. And I’m less of a people person than I have ever been. I’m not good at meeting people. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not good at little get-togethers with people I know, much less people I barely know or don’t know at all. Frankly, I’ve always found most folks exasperating after about the first 15 minutes of conversation. Not that I’m thrilling or any less frustrating, I’m sure, I’m just, like I said, not a people person. And the people I do find interesting or fascinating, the ones with whom I’d like to get together, typically don’t like me at all.
My astrology and numerology predictions for October all said the same thing: this would be a period of beginnings and a preview of the following year. That’s great, just great, because all I feel are endings.
Jobs are ending. What has been home is ending. Friendships aren’t what they were. We’re all in such different places – physically and mentally. The life I’ve known for almost two decades is ending. I’m not me anymore, but I don’t know who to become. I obviously have some adjustments to make. I suppose I just put one foot in front of the other for a while, trusting that it will all work itself out. It just needs to let me take the first steps.
I know I could read a book, I could go to the used bookstore, I could go look around at the mall, I could go to the library, I could go for a walk, I could rake the leaves, I could shop for a new sofa that I desperately need, I could go pay $4 for a chai tea, I could take a vitamin, I could pray. Better yet, I could volunteer somewhere, contribute, give back, think of others.
I could do any of these things, if only I could muster five minutes of not feeling sorry for myself. Then, maybe I could distract it long enough to give me time to leave the house.
We had scheduled a trip next week to go to DC for Fall break, but, when my son said he had to work that Saturday and didn’t really want to go, I felt relieved. It sounded like a lot of work, a lot of trouble, a lot of activity, a lot of involvement with people. Actually, I think I was scared to go. I was scared of making the plans, boarding the dog, spending the money, driving an older car, the scheduling and arranging, the parking, the hotel noise, all the things that could go wrong or just be a hassle.
And the holidays are coming. They will be decorating and shopping and showing commercials of happy, warm people, giving tips on how to plan a perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas. They will talk of home and friends and family and joy and peace and love. I will be alone watching old movies with the dog. I have enjoyed the last few years alone, but that was because I wasn’t alone all year. I’m a little scared - worried that it will still be here.
Things are just changing and I have to change. I need to try new things. I tell it every night that tomorrow I will leave the house. So far, it hasn’t let me, but I hope it will soon.