Friday, July 15, 2011


I thought I knew what loneliness was.  When I first arrived at college, when I went through a huge breakup, when I was hospitalized my junior year - those were lonely, isolating times.  None of that holds a candle to what life is like now.

I wake up after two hours of sleep every night.  I spend an hour or so in bed, trying to fall back asleep.  Finally, I get up and spend the next several hours on the couch wandering aimlessly around the internet and occasionally trying to read.  I don't have the attention span for books anymore so that's kind of a lost cause.  Eventually, I'll shower, get dressed, say goodbye to a still-sleeping Alix, and drop Rupert off at daycare.  I spend my day having conversations with toddlers and not interacting with anyone over the age of four for nine hours.  I watch the kids playing, as if from a far distance, too dizzy to stand, and curse myself for being an inadequate nanny.  I pick up Rupert from daycare, come home, and collapse.  And then it begins.  The slow and steady slide into a pit of loneliness so dark that  it is damn near impossible to comprehend if you haven't felt it yourself.  The apartment is still.  The dog sleeps.  I do...nothing.  Until around 8 PM when I take Rupert out one last time, get ready for bed, dutifully take my sleep meds and hope, stupidly, that they'll work tonight.  Then I'll collapse, exhausted for what is the equivalent of a nap.  When I do get up, I scoot over Alix's sleeping body and dizzily make my way to the couch.  I wait for the sun to rise so that I can try to forget that I've been awake since 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 AM. 

And then I do it again.  I don't remember the last time I had a conversation with Alix that wasn't slurred through the sleep medications we each take.  I've given up on waking her up when I can't sleep - something we used to do for each other when one of us couldn't sleep.  She won't wake up or she'll speak gibberish for ten seconds before nodding off again.  I can't blame her, she's worked to the bone at her summer job.  So instead, I climb over her each night and dread the day to come.

There's nothing romantic about real, true loneliness.  There are beautiful poems, books, and essays on the topic that are all a crock of shit.  Loneliness doesn't bring you closer to God (or whoever).  It doesn't give your brain a "chance to contemplate things."  It's the sinking awareness that no matter how many people surround you, no matter how busily you fill your day, you are always alone.  Always.


Margaret said...

Oh Caitlin, this is so rough! I do think loneliness is just about the worst feeling. But your descriptions of the wee hours, I can't even imagine. I wish I could help!

Cait said...

Thanks, Margaret. Your kind words are always a source of comfort. I hope you are enjoying (enjoyed?) your visit with your family. I know you have your moments of loneliness too! I hope it was soothing to have loved ones so close.

dmsegel said...

sorry about your loneliness, I too have seen the dark pit, and it's no fun at all, especially when you throw insomnia into the mix. Hoping you get some sleep soon.