For a while now, I really believed I could no longer write anything worth reading. Many times I have written entire paragraphs in my head, edited, restructured, before discarding. I imagined certain readers finding their way to this blog, reading what I have written, then cringing at the words.
In my books, no reader needs suffer bad writing. That I find myself in this place – where I am not sure the words I am typing out will not make discerning readers cringe – is a show of how much of self doubt I still possess. I am learning to accept this and many other things about me.
Recently, I accepted my frailty. For the past few months, I have had to take on more tasks than usual for economic reasons. More tasks, more money; it was supposed to be a simple math. When the resulting stress was divided by the strain on my health and relationships, I was left with more trips to the hospital than I would fancy, and cold or dead responses at the ends of some usually warm conversations. While it was easier restoring my health, good friendships, I have realized, are like opportunities; second chances are hard.
In one of the retreats recuperating afforded me last month, I counted the number of close friends I have left: less than the fingers on the hand I began counting.
Loneliness is a scary thought. Not in the sense of reaching across the bed in the night and finding more of the bed – at least, that is not how it worries me at the moment. It bothers me that the handful of people who matter dearly to me, whose texts, voice notes or (in)frequent phone calls lighten me up when we make conversations, may find better use of their time than with me.
A huge percentage of these handful do not even realize that as far in between as our conversations are, they keep me the important two steps away from loneliness. As I type this, it will appear some of these people have realized there are better things to do than trying so hard to keep up friendship with me.
In my private conversations with loneliness, I have weighed how this plays out in a marriage relationship. I am certain married couples depend largely on communication, else the “communication is key” line of ‘relationship experts’ should not have continued unchallenged. I have asked a few married friends this question: “what do you guys do when there’s nothing to do?”
I understand boredom. I know the importance of temporal inactivity. What I do not know is how it plays out when two people are involved – two people who have sworn to see each other through it all. Doesn’t one for a few moments naively think the other is the cause of their boredom? Is it life-and-death to always be interesting in this type of union? What if I don’t want to? Or more importantly, what if I really am not? Do I succumb to a rote existence and pull another into it? Since I am able to get adequately bored with a 25-hour schedule doing things I love, does staying interesting not become a task? Like Saving Private Ryan?
This morning, I downloaded a new episode of Game of Thrones. In passing, I recollected how I had first began seeing the series a first time two years ago. At that time, I had taken a three-week break from work to properly recover from a similar ailment, which like this time, had also taken its sweet time to go away. I recalled not knowing what the whole hype was about after seeing the first season in my drug-induced limbo. To be fair, I had, earlier that week, suffered hallucinations from what I would later learn was a probable resultant of combining two strong prescriptions for the same ailment. A second hospital, and a second doctor’s opinion, was how I was rescued from what could have been a psychiatry ordeal.
After seeing the episode, I decide for no grand reason that I will pay for the subsequent episodes by subscribing to the full cable bouquet. Maybe the arrival of the football season is the real subconscious reason. Maybe not.
My uncle, Big Sam, is a body of stories. Typing these notes, I fondly recall a habit of his that I only learned while he was protesting my uptightness. To show me how temporal he took life, he told me that after boutique purchases, he would leave wearing the finest of the items he just purchased because he could get hit by a car while crossing the road across the clothing shop. He wanted to always be sure he used his own best things first. He has not yet been hit and I’m no less uptight. As I recall his anecdote, I am looking forward to working at a pace my body and important relationships can bear; and, to worry less about the car, because while I have no knowledge of when it will come for me, I necessarily need to live first.
Image Credits: Connection in Recovery, New York.