A Moment in My Life – Friday, April 22, 2022
Jeannie Yee Davis
You never expect it, but even the perkiest person alive has triggers that entrap them into the deep dark dungeon called loneliness. I’m speaking from first-hand experience where I could remain alone for long periods without feeling lonely—the pandemic is my evidence. The truth be told, I rarely feel lonely. I don’t allow it. I keep a rigid schedule with no opportunity to go down that rabbit hole. IT COMES FROM NOWHERE when I feel lonely—unexpected, unwanted, unannounced, uninvited, unwelcome, and un-whatever else you can think of to add to my list.
Everything in life is a choice. There is an array of reasons, or excuses if you rather, that could justify my lying on the couch and crying my eyes out all day long. Someone told me that she didn’t call the first couple of weeks after Mark’s passing because she knew I was busy lying on the couch, crying my eyes out all day. Whoa! Totally new concept! Where did she get that? Does that sound like me? Plausible as this may be, those who know me cannot imagine this scene, but I didn’t make it up.
If I didn’t have social media where I entertain myself with many friends every day, I believe I would feel the isolation of loneliness. I would’ve gone nutty all alone day in and day out with nobody to interact with except me, myself, and I. After a while, I’d run out of things to tell myself. I’d get tired of hearing the same old stories. I could see myself getting cranky with yours truly, and the daily dialogue would sound like this, “You told me that already,” or “How many times are you going to tell me that?” It is such a blessing that I have a few friends who talk with me regularly. We developed this friendship pre-Covid, and it continued through the pandemic, and those relationships, along with a few new ones, are the ones that keep me balanced, even if only cyberly. It’s priceless having people in my life physically. Still, I don’t believe I need the physical presence as much as I need some social human stimulation, which means electronic communication works just fine—the important thing is having someone other than myself to communicate with.
I have no clue how people without a cyberspace presence who live alone, especially during the pandemic, do it. People are the key to keeping the world bobbing along on our journey for survival. I value my alone time but treasure my people time. Thank God I don’t have to choose one over the other.
Loneliness is entirely subjective. No two experiences or triggers are the same. As I said earlier, I need some form of communication contact with humans, whereas a friend of mine must have physical people contact. She lavishes real hugs, which are neither right nor wrong, just preference. She becomes Spiderwoman, scaling the walls if she goes too long without her hugs.
I wasn’t kidding when I said no two experiences or triggers are the same—not even with yourself. Again, I am speaking from first-hand experience. Once your status quo changes, it is safe to say that anything goes. Save yourself the headache of expecting “the familiar.” There is no longer “the familiar.” A better plan is to expect to have a good time but be open to whatever that resembles. You may go through a bit of culture shock as I did at the first wedding I attended as a single. I sat at a table with friends I’ve known for over two decades. Friends who we double-dated often. As wedding receptions go, a lot was happening in this ballroom. High energy and excitement filled the atmosphere, with people mingling everywhere. I was laughing and having a good old time with everyone around me when I glanced at the couples at my table doing what couples do—reminiscing the playful advances that Mark and I shared, and sudden loneliness paralyzed me. My heart raced as if I needed to escape, sending a winter chill to my limbs and summer heat to my head. The words, “I shouldn’t be here,” reverberated between my ears, misting my eyes. It was such an unsettling sensation that swept through me. A friend asked me to snap some photos of her and her kids, shaking me out of my self-pity mode. The lesson I learned that day was not to internalize what I see, and keeping busy, is the answer to preventing loneliness from creeping in. Enjoy being with the people around you, and making the best of the situation is the better plan.
The other night, I had a phone call with a girlfriend, and it was delightful as always. We did our usual thing by starting one topic, segueing into another, until she needed to hang up an hour and a half later. As soon as we said our goodbyes, loneliness sank into me like a granite block. From where did that come? I just got off a long and enjoyable call. How is that logical that I felt so devastatingly lonely suddenly?
This loneliness reminded me of the day three years earlier when Cousin Karen and I took a three-and-a-half-hour lunch break at Jack’s, where we leisurely talked and ate and talked and ate. The only reason we left when we did was not to keep the servers waiting. I couldn’t have asked for a better time. I felt joy from head to toe after she dropped me off at home. As soon as I walked inside, and secured my front door, the pleasure I felt a second ago was thrust out of me by the forceful loneliness that replaced it, leaving me standing at the entranceway feeling as if I had stepped into a dark, dank dungeon. There was no yesterday, no today, and no tomorrow in view, just a dark, hollow void. Again, this was illogical. Where did this loneliness come from when just a moment ago, I was having the time of my life with a beautiful person who I love dearly?
That day with Cousin Karen was the first time I experienced deep loneliness after a good time. Months earlier, I suffered from PTSD, which meant feeling any negative emotions was expected and logical. When it’s unexpected, like after a joyous event, then it makes no sense.
I don’t have all the answers, and every case will be different. Yet, I wanted to understand why this happens when it does, and then it hit me. The commonality between these two episodes was that I was exhausted from a lack of sleep. Forever, getting enough sleep was the least of my worries, but as I get older and go through more trauma drama, I appreciate the importance of maintaining a good night’s sleep. Everything is so much better after a good night’s rest. When unrested, my body is cranky, regardless if I am aware of it. I have trouble remembering things, such as the right words, which is death for a writer. I tend towards oversensitivity and so on. I’m glad I don’t get these episodes often despite the fact I struggle with sleep. I’m thankful I know that lacking sleep could trigger loneliness. Hopefully, maintaining good sleep habits will prevent me from feeling that loneliness.