On Being Lonely

Ya'll, I don't know if it's the weather (although, let's be real, it's a high of 72 and sunny today in New Orleans) or the way it gets dark at 4:30 or maybe just something about my chemistry that gets out of whack come late November, but I have been feeling very lonely. Let me be clear, I am not alone. I have about a million people who support me, friends near and far, family, co-workers even a therapist who is a phone call away.

So I am not alone, but I am lonely.

A lot of times, these are hard for me to reconcile. How in the world can you be lonely when you have so many resources at your finger tips? Well, I'm not really sure. All I know is that, right now, I wake up some morning and feel like I can move mountains. You could throw anything at me and I would happily catch it and run with it. But there are mornings, like this morning, when there are 3 things I want to do.

1. Sit in my bed and cry for a bit. Not too long, but crying is starting to become therapeutic for me.

2. Call my mom so she can listen to me, but also so she can tell me how awesome I am. Because some days you just need that from your mom.

3. Text a friend, set up a brunch date and and spend an hour or so talking about the things that are weighing you down. Even if they are trivial, a good friend will listen and not minimize your frustrations and sorrows.

Today I did all three. I woke up felt kind of sorry for myself, cried on the phone with my mom (who did in fact tell me how awesome I am and sent me videos of our cat that is in a cone right now as an extra pick-me-up), then went to brunch with Valentina. And by brunch I mean I stuffed my face full of croissants, drank a lot of coffee and talked about pretty much everything that is pressing down on my shoulder and causing cricks in my neck.

While we were talking I made the comment along the lines of, "I just feel like everyone else is getting their lives together and mine is a mess." Isn't that silly? Like, what?
Valentina's response was gentle and reaffirming. "I don't think that's true. You have a great job situation, you go to the gym almost every day. You eat really healthy food, and you're a good friend." See, what a reaffirming thing to hear. And ya know what, she's right.

This post isn't necessarily the place I want to delve into all the possibilities for why I feel lonely, because there are a plethora and some things are meant to be private, but I did want to share how I deal with it.

How Alex Shakes Off the Lonelies 101*

*it should be noted that these are different then the ones listed above. These are more of a day to day routine kind of things, as opposed to having an exceptionally lonely day kind of thing.

1. Gym. In the past month I have really taken to exercising. There is nothing like a nice kick of adrenaline to keep you going.

2. Food. Well, cooking food. For a long time I associated eating out and eating rich food with happiness and now I have to lose 20 lbs. So, instead of eating out, I am making the time to cook something yummy that lasts me a couple of day. Today (after the croissants of course) the menu was baked chicken, sauteed squash and zucchini and a yam with brown sugar. Ok, so the brown sugar is probably not the healthiest of choices, but woman cannot live on yam alone.

3. Reading. It's like I'm 12 again (that's about the age I was when I got in trouble for reading too much at school). I am devouring books like it's nobodies business (when I have to do something on the treadmill I try to have some kind of reading available).

  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is amazing. And sometimes kind of sad, but also inspiring. It's so creative and well done. I haven't done much fiction writing since graduation and this book has inspired me to sit my ass down and spend some time on a new short story. Currently only on page 3, but that is single spaced people!

  • Sometimes I indulge in a graphic novel, or in this case a series of graphic novels. This story was written by one of my favorite horror authors, Joe Hill (check out NOS4A2 for some scary writing). Valentina lent me her copy of the first one. I proceeded to devour the next five over the weekend. The graphic novel is called Locke & Key, the story is by Joe Hill and the graphics part is by Gabriel Rodriguez.

  • The one I'm currently deep into is called, "When Mystical Creatures Attack", by Kathleen Founds. This story deals with mental illness and coming of age themes through a series of fictional essays and letter high schoolers write to (and for) their English teacher after she has a bi-polar episode and is admitted to a mental institution where she has to earn "Happiness Points" in order to be released. It is hilarious and awesome and I am continually astounded by how creative it is. Who comes up with these things (well besides Kathleen Founds of course)? I am envious. 

4.  Writing. Once upon a time I woke up every morning and wrote a little bit. Granted I did this because Professor Behr threatened to fail me in Intermediate fiction, there by kicking my ass into gear, but still! I would get up and fiddle away at my short story. I have come to learn that my second drafts are always substantially better than my first drafts and my first drafts are only worth while if I make the decision to spend some time on it. I started a short story last week and I've fiddled with it some. I will continue to fiddle with it. Wish me luck.

5. Friends. Last Monday I made the decision to drive out to Auburn to visit Megan. Best decisions ever. For a few reasons. First of all, Megan is a wonderful unicorn of a woman (yeah, you read that right). She is great. I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to visit her and it turns out this past weekend was the last time before mid-March because of my work commitments. So off to Auburn I went. There were quite a few great things about this trip. The first being that I love driving in my car. 5 hours is just long enough to give me thinking time. I listened to Serial, I also played this awesome song on repeat (see below). Nothing like blasting music with the windows down to clear your head. I spent the weekend with Megan, decompressing and talking and generally enjoying myself. I got to meet her adorable dog. While Heidi's farts may be all the way from the seventh circle of hell, Heidi is kind of awesome. I love her so much.

So, in summary, my life is actually kind of not so bad. I made some comment to friend the other day about how, "Maybe I'm just not meant to be alone," and that's a load of horse shit (pardon my language), talk about being self indulgent. Being alone is a discipline in and of itself. Being lonely happens to everyone. And if you can't handle yourself then no one else can. So here's to me figuring out how to handle myself on my best and my worst days.


P.S. to get the full effects of that song, listen to it while you're going 80 down some random highway in Mississippi. Windows down preferably. Try to race one of those oversized trucks if you can.


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