Humans are supposedly social creatures. We don’t do well without other humans. There are some who hole themselves up in monasteries and convents, and who spend much of their time not talking, yet they are still in the presence of others. Nowadays, in modern society, many people live alone. So many people feel isolated and lonely. Like me, even when I was completely mobile.
Yesterday morning, I finally pried myself from the bed. It’s so comfortable laying down. There’s no pain and I can do so many things from my California king sized, Tempurpedic bed with the grounding sheets on them that filter out the EMFs from the world, and my soft, all natural bamboo pillow covers. I really have everything I need. My computer, my phone, my books, my crossword puzzles. In one corner of my room is my piano. I can make audio recordings, sing songs, and play my guitar. I can listen to music and dream. I can meditate or practice mental rehearsals (although, I have a chair nearby for that). I can work on my writing. This has become my sanctuary – this compact, corner of my house.
Yes, I finally emerged from my bedroom. I pulled the blinds open to let in the light. Outside my window is a small forest of trees and a view of a mural on my backyard wall. I put some coffee in my Contigo mug, and although there is no handle on it, which I prefer, I now use this exclusively because it’s the only thing that keeps my coffee hot for hours while I sip slowly.
Due to my temporary incapacitation, it has become easier to stay home. Usually, I’m fairly well balanced between being home, which I love, and going out in the world, which I also love. Presently, I’m reading a book about pain – well, I’m always reading and listening to about 4 books. The author says this, “Our suffering …generates avoidance behaviors. Left unchecked…this can lead to the pain cage.” I realized that I have put myself in the pain cage. It’s just easier this way. I don’t have to deal with getting the walker in and out of the car, then in and out of the building, and then have everyone watch me and entertain the same conversation about the status of my condition. Also, I had decided that if I were to cloister myself in this ‘pain cage’, I could focus on healing – meditating, writing, etc.
Combine the pain cage with my new status of doing nothing in particular whenever I darn well feel like it (retirement) and I’ve got a case of – well, I guess we can call this malaise. That sounds like a disease, that’s not really a disease. The good part is that I’m in my lounging gown / nightgown / big, comfy shirt from an old boyfriend most of the time. I’ve met some people who took off their bra in the pandemic and never put it back on. I had to work, so I didn’t have that luxury, but now, when I go out, I almost can’t bear wearing it. I realize I could just not wear it, but I’m old school and not ready to take that leap yet.
So, what does this look like? Well, much of the time I’m in pretty good spirits, staying strong-willed, keeping my hopes up, dreaming of the future. I spoke with a friend yesterday who said that when she retired, she didn’t want to do anything for about 2 years. I felt better about my ‘condition’.
And then there are those moments when I feel so alone and/or lonely, when nobody is around – no family in town, friends have their own lives, not involved currently in any communities – that I just can’t stop crying. I tell myself to count my blessings. So I do that.
Then, I sit down on the couch to work on my computer and some song comes on the Alexa-driven device and touches some part of my heart, deep inside, and I’m crying again. Then there’s the part where I attempt to analyze why I’m crying while I’m crying. “Ridiculous. Feel your feelings, Girl,” I tell myself.
When I’ve calmed down enough to do anything at all, my body starts to jump in and I’m back to weeping, just in little spurts, until something inside me lets loose and I’m wailing and heaving in big gulps. “This is cathartic. This is great!” I tell myself, not knowing why I need to justify what women do best, what men hardly ever do, and then I’m feeling sorry for the poor bastards because they rarely have this opportunity.
The crying continues on and off until I realize that I am a useless waste of space, completely drained of any energy, and will accomplish nothing at all, not even meditating. I want to get out of the house and go do something, and then again, I don’t want to do anything at all.
That’s when I drag myself into the front room and binge watch some TV show. I start out telling myself that I’ll only watch one episode, two at the most. Somehow, it might turn into 3 or 4. I’m in complete and utter escape mode. The funny thing is, the shows often get me crying again.
The most pathetic part of this is that the families on the TV shows have become part of my fantasy family. Since I have no family here, in this town where I’ve lived for 30 years, and since I spend so much time with my pretend family, I have started dreaming about them, and they sometimes creep into my thoughts during the day as if they are real.
I talked to a friend recently and we both agreed that the show Thirty Something was as real as our families when we were raising little kids. I’ll never forget getting a phone call at the time, back in the early 1990s, from a friend. She practically screamed into the phone, “Gary died!!!” Gary was the cute, single, blond haired professor on the show, but the actor who played him wanted to leave the show, so they killed him off with a bike accident. We both bawled into the phone. We knew the difference between reality and fiction, but this felt…real.
Thirty Something and the shows I’m binging now are dramas about families and friends. They’re not sit-coms or dramadies, they’re not action or adventure. They’re not reality shows (I hate most of those), they’re not documentaries, they’re not murder mysteries. They’re not soap operas, but I suppose they are close to that genre. They are simply about the inner workings of the relationships between members of a family or close friends. They are a substitute for what is missing in my life.
Often, I get bored watching action movies. It’s the same scene over and over – chase, chase, chase, pow, pow, pow, catch the bad guy eventually. I’ve literally fallen asleep in movie theaters when the action goes on ceaselessly for 20 minutes. If there’s very little plot, or dialogue, then what is the interest? Don’t get me wrong, I loved Game of Thrones, and the first 2 Lord of the Rings movies (phenomenal animation and special effects, great story – but the third one was 3.5 hours of fighting), Indiana Jones, and Star Wars – at least the first 3. But I need an actual story that is either intriguing and suspenseful, deeply provocative and philosophical, or has a story I can relate to. I enjoy stories that are character driven, and I want the characters to have dimension and depth, I want to root for them, or I want to hate them. I want to empathize, sympathize, love them, relate to them. That’s why I watch these family/friend dramas. Their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy, but it’s all make-believe. Thus, the pathetic part.