Mating, Dating, Relating, Medicating

Aug 18

Thoughts on Loneliness

I don’t think it was loneliness that spurred me to start dating again in 2009. I think it was hopefulness (and horniness.)  My life was in a bit of a flux, as I was just coming out of a period of working maniacally around the clock and every weekend for a couple of years, and I’d just moved out of the house I shared with my sister, but I was happy to have time to myself.  I can think my own thoughts for a long, long time and not become bored.  I have a rich interior landscape…or I am an absent-minded dreamer, depending on your perspective.  And while most of my friends were married or moved by then, not all of them were; good times were still to be had, of the kind we’d always enjoyed…late nights, dinners, boozy brunches.

Then the dating thing was such a project; so many emails to decode!  So many profiles to examine for hidden meaning!  Texts from boys to decipher, and gossip to impart about my last date, or my next one.  And then I met Lieu, and while I still dated other people intermittently, I never wanted to. It was all about him, all the time.  We used to email constantly, and gChat for hours and hours every day.  Even on days when I couldn’t see him, I’d always rather be home chatting with him from my couch than anywhere else.  The shape of him filled up my days, and I joyfully made room; after so long on my own, it felt good–better than good, it felt amazing, transcendent–to have a Lieu-shaped spot in my head and in my day and in my bed to fit myself around.

Now…I don’t know.  I haven’t figured out yet what goes in the space he used to fill.  I think about dating again, and I know beyond a doubt that I am nowhere near ready, and I know equally as vehemently that I need to hurry this recovery along.  My natural rate of getting over heartbreak is best measured in geological time: when I give my heart to someone and get it back in thousands of pieces, it takes me a long time to put it back together, a Messy-not-Stoic Era, if you will. (I’m going to pause for a moment for you to appreciate the epic nature of that pun I just made. Go on.)

In the mean time, I’m reading a ton (of mostly crap) and taking walks and sedating myself to sleep and avoiding things that make me sad, like music and funny things on the internet and everything in my house that Lieu ever touched.  Today, I had a long lunch with a friend that turned into several hours of daydrinking, and it was really good: I felt like myself for a while, easy and relaxed and normal.  I even felt good for a while when I came home, but then I had to start writing this blog post to keep myself from emailing Lieu, or calling him, or inventing some other medium that he hasn’t rejected me in yet so he could do it there. I want to scream at him, and hug him, and bite him, and throw myself at his feet and beg him to take me back, and kick him in the shins.

I want all of that emotion to go away.  I would gladly repress it all if I could.  I want to stop thinking about him, and I want to stop being lonely for him.  I want my head space back, and the big piece of my heart he still has.  I want to forget how it felt to have him in my world so that I can be alone again without being so lonesome.


Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty:

I couldn’t ever remember being lonely before, certainly not in this way, until I had seen the edge of all the ways you could be with another person, which brought up all the myriad ways that person could never be there for you.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms:

I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started.

Charlotte Bronte:

The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.

Rainer Maria Rilke:

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.


9 Responses to “Thoughts on Loneliness”

  1. thordora says:

    I remember feeling that way when my ex left…until I realized that once I got over the immediate pain, it really wasn’t that bad, and I could move on…that being said, it was a marriage from a too young age that nearly destroyed me. The shine was off the penny. I’m madly in love with my bf, and I cannot imagine him suddenly not being there…would be like suddenly having the O2 shut off…

    it will end. It will just suck until it does. :(

  2. There’s a big difference between solitude and loneliness. And the latter is just awful. I’m so sorry you’re in the thick of it, and I hope SOMETHING comes along to speed your recovery.

  3. magnolia says:

    best. pun. ever.

    that being said, i know that place well. it’s harrowing. it’s a pain that’s nearly inexpressible in words. but if i can give some consolation from the divorce, here it is, as cliche as it sounds: it passes. i know that’s really not helpful in the moment, but hopefully, the fact that it ends can give you some encouragement in the throes of it…

    thinking of you…

  4. Cass says:

    Thank you for articulating what this missing him feels like so perfectly. I feel….hollow. And when people share space with me it’s like they see one of those solid easter bunnies and after a minute they realize – I am hollow still and that’s not so charming to be around. hmmmm

  5. Artemisia says:

    I am so sorry, honey. This is just going to really suck for a while. Hang in there.

  6. Phnx65 says:

    argh – I so recognize your space right now. When TMJ left me, he took his 3 kids with him too, so my lonliness was x4. You’re being good to yourself with the walks and the sleeping (no matter how you get to it), so keep doing that. Each of us follows a different path, but I remember actually going to therapy for the first time in my life – terrified, b/c I grew up in a world where “therapy was for crazy people”, but ultimately SO grateful b/c it gave me a voice. I later realized what I had never had with TMJ, was my voice. I also believe it or not (peeps who know me STILL laugh at this), joined Junior League. It gave me a place to volunteer and help folks- in the end, it was that volunteering that saved me. Just stuff to ponder as you continue on your path, but to ponder can be useful sometimes. Chin up my new friend….. Phee

  7. andi says:

    When I had newly “met” you, you were having some questions about Lieu and your relationship with him. I don’t remember exactly what I told you, or even what you reported the concern being, but I remember the flavor of it. I find you delightful. You look at the world in interesting ways. I think that spending a day out in the world with you would be highly entertaining because I could see things through your eyes as they are happening. You are an amazing women. And my impression at the time was that he was not appreciating that about you. I remember saying something about the importance of having someone really SEE you and it didn’t seem like he did.

    I know I could look back and figure out exactly what was said, but that doesn’t seem important. What does seem important is to point out that when someone leaves our lives – for all kinds of reasons, even death – we tend to get very black and white. Vilify or glorify. Either way is usually a lie, and an unhelpful lie at that.

    Grieve. But grieve the relationship you really had – not the polished version we are all tempted to create following loss. Honor the whole of your truth.

    Lieu is just a man. He held a very important place in your life for a long time, but that is all he did. He had a place in your life – he wasn’t the entirety of your life. Reclaim it. You have an empty space. What do you want to fill it with? The sky is the limit. Allow yourself some space to dream about that – it’s not betraying the memory of all the good there was in that relationship.

    I realize I am being quite annoyingly direct, but try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a more gentle way of saying that. You are an amazing women. You will make it through this. You will learn important things that will make your future better, more full, more real, more genuine. Hold on to that.


  8. Cheney says:

    “I haven’t figured out yet what goes in the space he used to fill.”

    Yeah, I haven’t either, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

  9. md says:

    I’ve been there, divorce after a 25 year marriage AND betrayed by my “best friend”. It felt as though I was in one of those inflatable packing bags with all the air sucked out. Your posts make me remember how I felt. It took me a long time to get healthy again. Even now, six years later, there are some triggers still that can take me back to that dark place. Everyone says, time will heal. They are right but there are some other things you can do and need to do.I am convinced now that there are many similarities between”the dark, no air, space” and withdrawal from the most potent of addictions. I haven’t had an addiction myself but ex and son did. Avoid triggers. For me that meant certain friends,(I still loved) but they had been sounding boards. Avoid alcohol, it increased my melancholy. Do something anything that puts you around people. Painting class, back to school,volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, anything really. Get out of the house. It is not your friend.Do some type of physical activity everyday , it will help you sleep. Oh, make yourself get dressed with make up every day. I wonder if any of this “advice” would have helped me when I was where you are? The damn thing is, when you are least up for it, it takes work to survive. I have become quite fond of you through reading your blog. You are worth the effort.

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