Only The Lonely

(I wasn’t meaning to write two posts today, so, hey. Lucky you. Seeya on the weekend.)

The greatest gift the internet provides us with is universality. Through it, we have become Hillary Clinton’s Global Village. Through a series of microchips and fibre-optic wires, a person in Nantucket can wake up and realize they’re having the exact same kinda day as their favourite blogger in Guayana. Suddenly the human condition isn’t caught in only brief snippets in plays and movies. Now, it’s all over the world wide web.

It’s with great irony that blogging has become such a public way of revealing the private self. Anonymity allows for nearly anyone to open up the wellsprings and let it flow for the world at large to be a part of. The anonymouses of the world, aware of just how little voice they have in day to day life, are speaking pretty loud and clear these days.

Every now and then, someone comes along who’s able to tap into the darker currents that course through their innerselves. Every now and then, someone captures that elusive truth of what makes the human condition such a mesh of experiences — the highs, the lows, the sub-terranean depths of it all. And it’s all free. With an ISP, you can log into the wired world and tap into someone feeling, experiencing, being everything you relate to. And that’s a good thing.

It’s an even better thing when we realize just how much some people need to find that commonality. I’ve been through some pretty dark times, and that does not make me exceptional. It makes me pretty plugged into that universality I mentioned earlier, the proverbial Matrix. Of course our pains and loves and triumphs and losses are things we understand only up until a certain point. It’s so mysterious. Such a muddled mess to wade through. When others can express what we feel, well, suddenly it’s like we’ve had a light shine onto us. Wow, that’s my sentiment exactly. And there you are, in your own skin, feeling just like I do. Why, we’re not so very different after all. Thank God, it’s true: I’m not alone.

Loneliness is quite possibly one of the worst feelings I’ve ever endured. Hopelessness is hard, too. So’s plain old fear. I’ve been there, done that, didn’t want the ugly ass t-shirt.

I got to spend just under three years with my mother before she died. I’d left town, moved to the Yukon, fell in love with Northern Lights and wide-open spaces and that silence that bludgeons you dumb (as Robert Service once said), but the expense of living in the great white north just about crippled me. Too dumb to live within my means, I came home to Vancouver at 22, my tail between my legs, and some $35,000 in debt, sans job. I moved back home and stayed there, at first because I had no choice, and then because I realized something was wrong with my mother (though it would be some time before the cancer was diagnosed; take it from me — if you suspect something’s seriously wrong with a loved one, do not follow the complacent course I took — get them to a doctor. Get involved. I wish I had).

But when I arrived home, late one night my mother had had a couple glasses of wine and said to me, “Don’t ever leave me like that again. I couldn’t bear the quiet.” And I never left her again. I would have, but she beat me to the punch.

Being alone is hard. There is nothing I feel more empathy and understanding towards than people who fear aloneness. And while it would seem to be an easy fix — it’s a big world, getting bigger every day, billions of others walk this terrain, just like you, and all you seemingly need to do is step outside your four walls — nothing seems harder when you’re on the other side of it.

The walls seem thicker, others seem happier, things just keep happening, and all the while, you’re experiencing none of it. An outsider peering in. It’s like some puppetmaster is holding strings and keeping you back from it all.

Unfortunately, that’s often your choice.

I write from time to time about all the injuries I experienced over the last few years. In one year, I was on crutches for more than 20 weeks. I’ve never felt as alone as I did then. There were a lot of long, quiet nights, and I felt pretty abandoned by the world at large. It was during all that that I first turned to blogging. A lot’s gone down since then, and while I’m often playing the solitary game, it’s pretty much by choice these days. I’m single now, but I’ve had a couple recent chances to change that status and have passed on ’em. Partly because I wasn’t ready, and partly because I really don’t mind being a party of one. It works well with the writing gig.

But being injured did force me to learn that others were there when I wanted them, and, more importantly, when I needed them. All I had to do was speak. Out of all the lessons I’ve learned in my life, learning to ask for help has been the one I’m most proud of. Learning how to admit that I need someone or something has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m a proud, proud woman, and I have been reduced to fucking dust at times in the last few years. I’ve realized something, though, that it’s in that dust that something new in me began to grow. I realized that reaching out, asking for help, allowed others to give. It allowed them to be there when I needed it, and allowed them to feel like they were really contributing to me and my life. It profoundly changed my closest relationships, and the friends who stood by me then, I know they’ll always be there.

So many of us never really let our friends and family be there for us. We let our pride fuck with us and we tell ourselves our loved ones are too busy. We fail to realize that most people hang around the peripheral, waiting on us to speak up and tell them what we need — because they know we’d be there for them if the tables were turned.

So, if you’re among the lonely and you feel you’ve been abandoned, well. You might just be surprised. It’s more that people are busy, they get involved in their lives, but somewhere in the back of their minds, they’re waiting for you to speak up, to tell them they’re wanted around, or that you just plain need’em. What are you waiting for?

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