This is a poem (and brief blog) I wrote and published on Christmas Eve last year:
spend a major holiday alone,
the experience of loneliness truly engulfs you.
spend two major holidays alone
the mud begins to cake onto your shoes
as you travel on the path of your endlessly lonesome journey.
as the days pass,
the celebrations continue – you begin to change.
you begin to see the good side of lonely.
you begin to see the lonely that you can depend on.
you begin to see the lonely that makes you stronger.
I love to write my thoughts in poem. I must admit, it has been a struggle for me to find my “voice” again. I am hopeful that some of you will be able to relate, which is why sharing the above poem is particularly of value to me.
Almost six years ago, I found myself in a place that I would never have expected to be. As fate would have it, I was on my way to work one second and the next second I was having emergency brain surgery to save my life. I was 24 years old going on 60 as each second was ticking on. Without any say in the matter, I was about to start my long-term relationship with loneliness. Transparently: I don’t enjoy writing/talking/discussing my trauma. I have done so quite a bit over the last six years and, post-traumatic stress aside, it gets tiring. I can’t speak for all of us that have experienced a life-altering, traumatic incident; however, I do know, for me, the painful details of brain and spine surgery aren’t always my favorite things to talk about.
What I can tell you is that at 24 years old, I had a lot of friends…at least I thought I did. I went out to bars and parties all of the time. I was friends with all of my co-workers, my boyfriend’s friends and his family members, and I even managed to remain close to people who I had worked with years before. But, just like being part of a magic show, the most magnificent thing happened when that fatal day came…almost all of those people disappeared from my life. I never saw or heard from them again. Sure, they sent flowers and cards in the weeks I spent in the hospital. But, after I got fired from the office, I was told I couldn’t drive or go out and drink because I was now an epileptic. This is when I spent most days and nights home alone, except for the few people who I learned to be my real, true friends. I can count them on one hand. Loneliness was a dark partner, so I was learning.
The dark times began. My boyfriend, at the time, was a tremendous support system. However, I found myself in two relationships now: let’s not forget my new and faithful relationship with loneliness. Despite the love I had for my other partner, the love loneliness had for me was too strong, overwhelming and consuming of my identity. It was time I was truly dedicated to that relationship and I can tell you that from 25-29 years old my identity was lost, corrupted, and stripped away by loneliness and trauma.
Of course, I had a number of boyfriends, partners, jobs, and hobbies to make attempts to validate my self-worth, self-love, and purpose in the world. But, I never felt good enough. I never felt complete. I never felt acceptable to anyone or anything. Was I important? If I was, then why did I feel so lonely all of the time even when someone says, “I love you?”
It has taken me many a mental breakdown, 1.5 years of psychotherapy and intense analysis of inner self-awareness to begin to see myself with fresh eyes. I am still lonely. However, in my loneliness, I see strength, courage, and an intense power of will to survive. I am not a victim nor do I wish to continuing victimizing myself which is why talking of my trauma is not of value to me. That occurrence lives in my past and I wish to keep it there. In my future, I know nothing of it and I look forward to many moments of surprise and loving what fate brings to me (challenge and all).
In my present moment, I feel lonely. I accept my loneliness as freedom. I do not have to act on my loneliness but I know that it is present in my life. Sometimes it makes me sad, I admit. Sometimes, I long for lost lovers and I become wistful for distant memories. However, I also feel very powerful knowing that I am encountering the strength of loneliness in the dead of the night (trudging through the deep, heavy trenches it brings) and waking up with fresh eyes the next morning having left it in the shadows.
Strap up your boots.