Now that the new year is here, I have to start honouring some of my resolutions. One of which is to start writing again. Isolation has a strong hold on me and I have to break free of it.
It is amazing how being unwell makes you solitary. I have spent the majority of the past 18 months in my house alone. Much of it my own fault. The treatments I was having left me so exhausted and tired, that I just did not have the energy to deal with anything. Then, of course, you start getting used to being alone.
Slowly, I stopped reading emails, listening to voicemails, reading fellow Painies blogs, writing in my own. I just started to become insular, cocooned in my room, pain and sickness.
Starting to reach out is harder than you think. Prior to pain, I used to be a social butterfly. Always out, having dinners, meeting with people, walking my dog etc. Now, I feel so socially awkward. I am afraid to go to events, for several reasons. Conversation is an art that requires, like anything, practice. When you haven’t had a conversation with anyone in a while, it is hard to start doing it again. I second guess all my conversations. Analyze what I have said, how long I have said it, if I said anything wrong…….you know if you have spent a long time alone what it is like.
The only real conversations I have had in so long are with a handful of people. Mostly my children and husband. Teenagers aren’t always the easiest to determine whether or not you are doing anything right, because you are old and don’t know anything anyway.
I know that some of my friends don’t want to have phone conversations with me, because I talk too much. You know when you are so thirsty, that you drink a whole bunch of water….that is what it is like for someone who is alone. Normal people don’t need to have that long a talk, because they are talking-to people every day, all day. They don’t really want or have time to talk to someone for a long time anymore. Plus, we are now conditioned to text so chatting on the phone is not something most people do.
Most of the phone calls I would get from my friends, were if I could do something for them. Usually to take care of their kids, or do some other favour. Rarely did phone calls come to just say hi. Can’t blame them, I can’t do anything that would be fun for them, so why bother after a while. But because I am home all the time, it is easy for me to deal with the kids. I don’t mind doing these favours, I love the kids, I just wish sometimes I would get a call to just say hi?
I am not sure how it got to be like this. I think it was a slow slip. Insecurity about what I have to talk about, which let’s face it, isn’t that interesting. Talking about my illness is boring, not only to others but mostly to me. Talking about my kids, well, that is interesting to me, but not to everyone else. Without being able to work, read or commit to any social interaction, made it difficult for people to continue to try with me. So, I stopped answering emails or to be more accurate reading any. I cancelled my cell phone. Stopped going on social media frequently. Stopped working. Stopped.
Soon, the silence is normal. Going to the grocery store is a major event. Jeez, that is depressing.
Fear of going out in large groups has now become a big thing for me. I feel very overwhelmed, if having to face a lot of people at once. Unless they are strangers.
I have returned to Church. That is peaceful for me. I am able to get dressed up a bit, go to a safe place, where I am part of something, but it is gentle and non judgemental/threatening. I am able to quietly listen to the sermon, but still feel part of something. Invisible, but seen, if that makes sense?
This shouldn’t be to say that people have not been kind to me, or tried to be inclusive. They have. Lately I have tried to go out. One of my old friends just moved back here and we have met a couple of times. It has helped a lot. One of my neighbours has reached out to me and we have met for coffee a few times. It also helps me ease back into life.
We are doing renovations on our house, big ones, so I have that project to focus on. Something other than laundry, dinner or helping with someone else’s children. It is a little, but I have to do something to get back.
It is just amazing how pain can paralyze you, not just physically, but mentally. Last year, when I physically couldn’t see people, it changed me. Now I have to find a way to move on and find a new place for myself.
The kids are now older, they still need me, but in different ways. I have to get stronger in order to be there for them. Realizing, of course, that they are going to be on their own in not too long, and I have to find my new normal. What do I do now? How do I find that, when I can’t guarantee what I am going to feel like tomorrow? How do I get over my fear of socializing? Of failing? I am tired of those fears.
Anyway, I guess, this is as good a start as any. I am sure that there are others out there who are feeling the same as me. If this helps them at all, then I am doing something? I have been reminded that some of my posts have helped people in the past. Maybe that is what I am meant to do?
So, that is what I am going to do.