Wednesday, March 13, 2019

on loneliness

The thing I perhaps was not prepared for when it came to losing my mom a little over a year ago was how lonely I would end up feeling. Like all the time and unceasingly.  I am still surprised at the intensity.  After all, we lived in different cities for the past twenty years, and usually only talked on the phone twice a week, Sundays and Wednesdays.   I spent occasional weeks in Rockford, a few scattered trips to Wisconsin or Mississipi with both my parents.  But the sum total of my time with her or interacting with her was actually quite small given how much time I spend doing other things--even talking to other people.  But there was a solidity in knowing she was there, and that unmooring is perhaps part of this general malaise since that feels like the worst sort of lonely.

In my times of ultimate wallowing and self-pity, usually when I'm fighting the downward spiral, I am occasionally floored by this feeling and can't breath because of it. I still have other family, obviously, and talk to my Dad twice a week, my sister randomly via messages and social media.  A best friend I see every day and a boyfriend I see every week. Other folks I interact with online or at work or in the poetry world.  A rambling mass of extended family I see on holidays and such. People I appreciate greatly, but there is still this huge, gaping hole at the center I don't quite know what to do with, let alone how one would go about filling it up  It's this part of me that freaks out when I think about how much loss is still coming my way--all of our ways.  This is the part that makes my throat ache.

I've always considered myself rather self-sufficient.  I moved to an entirely new city with only a job and an apartment and then met other people along the way--at the library, at readings, in grad school. It was a slow process, but I would never have told you in those years that I felt remotely anything like loneliness.  Since I'm sometimes in super-introvert  my social circle is smallish and mostly disparate these days--small groups of people having coalesced and drifted apart over time. I probably dated far many more people in my life than I have considered close friends.   The odd gaps where I was more single than not, I was actually a little relieved by the breather in how I spent my time and mental energies.  I might have occasionally wished for a target of my affections, but that is surface level shit compared to this. Not at all serious and usually easily remedied by some sort of action(sometimes healthy, sometimes unhealthy).

But in the time since losing my mother, I've often wondered if so much of my never feeling even a drop of loneliness was because she was always just there.  Someone who had known me my whole life.  My whole existence since conception if you think about it. . There were many things in my life I didn't share with her, mostly since I am sometimes weirdly private about some things and not others.  I'm not even sure I asked for or took much advice from her, or anything that would look to an outside like support.  I mostly didn't like to worry her---health scares, money issues,  relationship drama. And she was a record worrier by nature, so I spared her a bit on my end.  Our phone calls were mainly stories about what was going on on each end--things we'd watched on tv.  Stories about the cats. She was my perfect bitchy parlay partner on the phone and in person, and the lack of this very thing sometimes is when I miss her most acutely.  But she was also a solid presence when everything else felt very fluid and churny.  I have a good relationship with my dad, and probably have talked to him on the phone more in the last two years than I did in the previous two decades since I moved out.  Sometimes I find myself grateful for that time, because no doubt, it wouldn't have happened if she'd outlived him, her always relaying the contents to him during or after the call.  But its a different sort of dynamic.

And I feel now like maybe all that's left is to be my own solid. Or maybe more solid than I am. I'm not sure how to fix it, or if it can even be fixed, Or if things change over time. But seriously sometimes it comes out of nowhere and knocks me flat on my ass.  Maybe I dwell a bit more in the winter months when my mental health is less sound, so we'll see if I feel it less when the weather gets better.  Here's hoping...

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