The carpet does it’s best to hide popcorn kernels that are scattered on the floor. An ounce of wine sits at the bottom of a stemless glass on the coffee table. And there is a Skinny Cow wrapper lying beside it. My laptop screen displays 19 open windows, including drafts of drunken emails to D-List reality TV stars.
Around 9 a.m. on Saturday morning I enter the room in yoga pants, smeared mascara and yesterday’s bralette and attempt to quickly dispose of the evidence that a certain someone had joined me the evening before during a Real Housewives of New York marathon.
His name? Loneliness. Lonely for short. Though I’m glad that he is gone now, I wish he would have at least cleaned up the mess he caused.
He is the relationship that everyone has experienced but few want to admit. A hybrid of Spencer Pratt and Scott Disick, minus their awesome moments. He walks through the door unwelcome. Sure, over the past 7 years of being single, there have been some nice, quiet nights in and much-needed movie dates, but like a toxic boyfriend, he can leave you feeling anxious and nervously staring at your phone.
Loneliness and I have not been getting along lately to say the least.
I have never entered Las Vegas crying unless it was out of pure joy and/or too many RedBull Vodkas on the plane. However, last weekend as I drove into the city, the lights of the casinos were blurred by the tears that clouded my eyes while talking to my father on speaker phone.
“I don’t want to have this feeling anymore, Dad. I feel like I’m losing my mind,” I confessed to the #1 guy in my life who was sitting a few hundred miles away. I was still in my office Halloween costume, and between the scrunchie and spandex, looked like a deranged fitness instructor who had lost her shit.
“I know, Ootzie. You probably feel alone,” my dad replied back. Our recent candid conversations have been a result of a newfound humility for both of us. While I’m still transitioning from a steady life in Arizona to crazy LA, he’s been in the midst of moving from full-time Sales Exec to phased out retiree. Apparently he’s taking it better than me (and I want whatever medication he’s taking).
In previous years, months or even days, I would have rebutted against his last statement. I would have insisted that I do not feel alone. That I am fine on my own. It’s just x, y or z. Besides, I know best afterall.
“You’re right,” I said instead, as tears really started to stream.
Multiple blog post drafts have been started for a couple years now about the nights that Loneliness sneaks through the patio screen door on Friday nights and disrupts my solitary contentment. However, they remained unfinished because as soon as Saturday morning came, and the evidence had been erased and plans with friends were made, I wondered, “Was he even here?”
Turned Constant Companion
Unfortunately, now he is here too much to deny. He made the move with me to California and has used the absence of my normal routine to creep into my daily life. Since I now work from home, he has replaced my co-workers, giving me anxiety so great that even the simplest email reply feels painstaking in his presence.
Friday nights have turned into Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings and nearly every night. And since I am still working from Scottsdale, he is my travel companion too, who stands in line at Airport Security with me as I longingly stare at happy families I never would have noticed before.
At the nearest airport restaurant I order a coffee or wine – a vice for distraction – and look around for someone to talk to, making it clear: “I’m not with him.”
Until the point comes, as with any toxic relationship, when it feels like too much. When you no longer feel like yourself anymore, and simple tasks seem like laborious chores. You are drowning and not sure where to look for refuge. Some turn to wine and Skinny Cows like me, and others turn to someone else to fill the void. However, I’ve known that even if I sleep at a different guy’s house, Loneliness will still be there waiting for me in the morning.
How Do We Get Along?
The reason that I share this is not because I am the only one who has encountered Loneliness. It’s because I think that everyone does.
Since my job is probably not changing tomorrow and Los Angeles is now my address, he is still my co-worker and office mate for now. So how do we make it work?
Part of my morning routine used to include listening to podcasts or audiobooks while I applied my makeup during which time I would stop intermittently to record notes in my phone. This is a favorite while listening to Eckhard Tolle in The Power of Now:
- Surrender to loneliness. Embrace it, accept it.
- There is no escape – work, drink, drugs. They don’t free you.
- You broadcast it as energy you emulate.
- There is always a way through. Feel it fully. Don’t create a script in your mind about it.
- Don’t let your mind create a victim identity – move into it or nothing will shift
- Refrain from mentally labeling it.
- Be intensely alert.
This week I have multiple Meetup events to attend and friend activities planned where he won’t be invited. However, when we’re inevitably in the coffee shop together, I want to practice being comfortable and content in his presence instead of feeling anxious and scared. Instead of running the internal script that he’s driving me crazy, I want to simply be aware that he’s there.
And that’s cool if he wants to chill at night – as long as he stays on his side of the bed and doesn’t insist on Cab and Skinny Cow’s to fall asleep.