Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living with Leukemia. Part 7. Loneliness

Loneliness is a sad, sorry state. I’ve always been wary of being alone. I left my family when I was relatively young, but I was lucky enough and patient enough to build strong relationships with friends and long-distance relationships with family because I never wanted to be alone. I got married, started a family of my own and thought I really would never be alone. But then, years in, I realized that we are, in fact, always alone. 

Someone once said to me that I needed to harden myself against this fear because in the end everyone dies alone and there’s neither shame nor sorrow in living alone. This thought always made me a little sad. Then something happens, in my case it was the Husband’s illness… and I’m back at the idea of being alone.

The reality of this phase in our lives is that he’s alone with his illness, his recovery, his fight I can only sit by and observe, try to help, but in the end I can’t really know how he feels and by the same token, I’m alone on my end, he doesn’t know how I feel, how it’s affected me nor does he, or probably should he, care.

How to deal, how to claw my way out of this incomparable sadness, out of this quite possibly unjustified sadness, is a mystery to me. I often find myself looking at my life like I’m looking in a mirror towards a parallel dimension, another me, smiling, taking care of her children, her family, doing everyday mundane things, enjoying a holiday, talking to friends, and then there’s me, looking through the glass, a little sad, a little melancholic a knot in my throat that won’t let me cry but won’t go away either. A constant undercurrent of tension, clenched teeth, always, slightly on edge, possibly not enough to warrant real worry, but just enough to take the joy out of things. 

I’m often confronted by the idea that the person I married, my other half, isn’t there for me, can’t be there for me, not right now anyway and I wonder what to do when I’m the one adrift. I don’t want to whine, I don’t want to assign blame where no blame can be assigned, but I feel how I feel and there’s not an awful lot I can do about it. So what do I do about it?

I find myself looking at other people now, people around me, working, living, smiling, doing their thing and I wonder if maybe they’re a little sad too, I search strangers’ faces wondering if maybe their smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes, and wondering how they do it, how they plod through their days, how they sleep through their nights. And I feel guilty (when don’t I?) because I think how lucky we are, the husband’s here, with us, my children are healthy and a joy to raise, we’re solvent, we have jobs to go to, a roof over our heads, no major crises befall us and yet the constant, relentless sadness sucking at my soul, making me feel so lonely I could cry but actually can’t. It’s inexplicable and inescapable and leaves me wondering what I should do.


  1. Alcira Molina-AliJuly 17, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    This is such a moving post and one many of us can relate to. 
    Perhaps it seems unfair, in light of what you and Ale are going through, to say that most of us often (always) feel thus. You are living through a terribly traumatic ordeal and as you say, trying your best to plod along gracefully and with a smile.
    I would also suggest, apart from the illness at hand and the confrontation of imagining yourself perhaps alone at some point in the future, that much of this emotion is a result of our age and stage in life.
    Somehow, once the loss of one or both parents sinks in (though does it ever, really?) even the creation of a family of one's own and the arrival of children only serves as a smokescreen.
    I think in one sense I've never felt more alone than at this age. It seems we at last grasp that reality -- that we are, above all, all we've really got.
    And all I can suggest -- cuz hell it's what I've tried to do -- is not to fight it, to roll with the emotion, which will likely one day crest at the most unexpected moment and perhaps we'll burst like a dam in line to check out at the grocery store...who knows?
    Whatever this life is, we have to live it. And above all, there is no selfishness in acknowledging your feelings or yourself at this stage. As moms we tend to auto-efface, as you say, to see ourselves only through the mundane actions we perform every day.
    So stretch yourself to stretch past that, to see Yarissima once again. To imagine a life alone but accompanied, to face what we've all been putting off -- that this short time on earth is the one chance we've got. 
    Baci and much love, Alcira

  2. What a raw, honest post. I think we all do confront our loneliness from time to time, and sometimes it seems the moments we don't feel lonely are simply ones in which we've succeeded in forgetting that the truth is we are. No one can know us completely. But I do think that doesn't mean we should stop reaching out. We need to reach out to others, to talk to others, to be with others. Sometimes it's enough just to be social, to take your mind off of what's really going on. Sometimes it's essential to bare your soul to another.

    But I do also know that reaching out isn't always easy. We know others are busy, they don't always have time or space to listen (even if we know they want to be there for us), and we don't wish to be a burden. I find that it's only after those long moments (days...weeks...) of despair, that I realize I should have tried for more patience and taken the long view. This too shall pass, and there will be a time when you can connect again, be understood again, feel a part of something again. It's incredibly hard when you're stuck in the pit of loneliness, but try to have hope that this too shall pass.

  3. Amazingly expressed and written. Very honest sentiments. I wish I could offer some words of wisdom, but I'm just me. I have no clue. I just know life's damn hard. Sometimes we have good streaks and then we don't. You sound amazingly strong, but thank goodness you're honest enough to express real emotions because a lot of people gloss it all over. 

  4. Dear beautiful Yara, there is one thing in your extremely touching post I don't agree with: your sadness is entirely justified. As they say, life is suffering. This is what we all have in common. But it is also full of joy, don't let that joy be overshadowed... I see the photos of your beautiful family on Facebook and I know you will make it through whatever life throws at you. And to be able to write like that and have it resonate with so many other people shows that you are certainly not alone nor will you ever be!