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LONELINESS

I remember the feeling well. It was subtle at first; an overall unease that settled in my bones making it a challenge to get out of bed in the morning.

It was a new bed in our new home, a home that my husband and I built from the ground up, together. We worked on it night and day, much of the time with our two small children underfoot, and when we were finally finished and had moved in, I remember breaking down in tears with ecstatic relief that it was over. It had taken us seven months to build, but it felt like it shaved ten years off my life, so I attributed the unease I was feeling after moving in, to my recovering from my considerable efforts.

Soon after we had purchased the land, I got to work on designing the house. When the time came to begin construction, I took on the daunting task of general contractor as well, while also continuing to work (from my parents home) as a fine art painter in-between shuffling my daughter to and from kindergarten in our new town.

It was a monumental undertaking, one in which I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

But we did it. We called in favors from many of our friends and with their help, along with the help of many others, including my parents who were lifesavers for letting us live with them and watching the kids for us a lot of the time, we built the home of our dreams. I had everything I had ever wished for, a happy marriage, two beautiful, healthy kids, a new home built in the middle of the woods that abutted more than two thousand acres of conservation land – I was living the dream.

Despite all this, every morning I’d wake up in this shiny new life with the same nagging question: what now?

I had gone from feeling more useful and productive than I ever had in my entire life, to feeling like I didn’t want to step foot out the door.

Thankfully my then four-year-old son forced me to function whether I liked it or not. He was my son, yes, but he was also my sun, shining much-needed light into the darkness gathering inside me. With my daughter now in school, looking back at that precious time we had together, just the two of us, hiking and going on picnics and going to the park to feed the ducks, I can see that he was instrumental at keeping the darkness at bay for a time.

“Loneliness is the doorway to unspecified desire.” – David Whyte Consolations

Still, I couldn’t shake that nagging sensation of loneliness. My life was never more full, but I felt empty.

We had two older black labs at the time and had talked about getting another puppy before they passed. It was a decision we kept putting off until the day came when I decided a new puppy might just do the trick and snap me out of my melancholy.

We welcomed our new german shepherd puppy, Jake, soon after, yet despite the intense infusion of new life, deep down I still felt lifeless.

Before I knew it, my son was in kindergarten, and without having him there to prompt me, I now had to force myself to walk out the door every day. The same door that was once an invitation into the world was getting heavier and harder to push open and harder still to cross its threshold without a clue as to what I would do with my life now that both of my kids were in school and I was left home alone.

What began as a subtle feeling of unease, now felt like a deep, unwavering ache at the center of my being; I had never been so lonely before.

I would still walk the same trails every day with my dogs as I had with my children, but it never quite felt the same.

Without them around, I felt forced to face my future – a future that no longer included them as much as it once had. I was still working from home and still making a decent living from it, but it no longer served the same purpose. Before, I worked from home as a way to stay home with my kids instead of having to put them in daycare. Now, I had no good reason to keep working from home since they didn’t need me in the same way, every day anymore. I was free to go back to work if I wanted to. Trouble was, I had no good idea what I wanted.

I remember feeling so terribly lonely during that period of time in my life that I would break down in tears at the drop of a dime. These weren’t the kind of gentle tears that served as a release from my pain. These were ugly tears that seemed, if anything, to intensify the pain I was feeling.

“Loneliness can be a prison, a place from which we look out at a world we cannot inhabit; loneliness can be a bodily ache and a penance, but loneliness fully inhabited also becomes the voice that asks and calls for that great, unknown someone or something else we want to call our own.” – David Whyte Consolations

How was it that I could be walking through acres and acres of open fields and still feel like I was in prison?

At a certain point, the loneliness and resulting depression I was feeling day in and day out had gotten so bad that it was taking a serious toll on my marriage. I wasn’t happy, that much I knew, but try as I might I still couldn’t put my finger on why. I was urged by my husband to seek help from a professional. I was put on an anti-depressant and told to feel better soon.

That lasted about a week when the pills my doctor had prescribed resulted in me flying off in a fit of rage at the slightest provocation.

So I threw them out and started supplementing my diet with vitamin D, which proved to be much more helpful than the anti-depressants I’d been prescribed. I also took up yoga for a time and began meditating which provided me with just enough clarity to realize it was time I did some serious soul-searching.

For all my efforts I still felt incredibly isolated in my pain, but I never allowed myself to stop pushing open the door. I never stopped walking every day. And I never stopped asking myself the big questions, despite my still having no good answers.

was, however, starting to get an inkling.

I was beginning to think that maybe the cure for my debilitating loneliness wasn’t going to be found in going back to an office job, maybe I needed to find a job I was already good at. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to have another baby.

 

PART I of III

NEXT WEEK: LONGING

About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

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