I’m writing this post from my bathroom floor.
There’s a spot that’s empty next to the wall. I always thought I’d put a bench there, but somehow, I never did. Instead, it’s just a random spot of floor, perfect for curling up into a ball.
I guess it’s pretty obvious that curling up on the bathroom floor hasn’t just been a hypothetical idea for me. On the contrary. This is my spot.
How many nights did I sit here, arms wrapped around my knees and cry? God, it must’ve been at least six months. I knew that my kids and my dad were less likely to hear me if I was in the bathroom, so that’s where I found myself. Sometimes I’d cry in the shower, and sometimes I’d cry in this weird spot on the floor. Over time, it became less frequent. But this place on the bathroom floor was my spot whenever I needed to find a quiet space, a place just for me to process my grief.
I don’t sit here anymore. I can’t actually remember the last time that I sat in this spot, feeling despondent. Yes, having Chris in my life has made some of those last bits of intense grief fade. But really, I had moved through a lot of that specific kind of grief before I met him. In fact, it was about last year at this time that I can last remember sitting in this spot and crying.
It was the holidays, and I was alone.
Not alone-alone. I still had my kids and my dad and my awesome Clark family. I still had my friends and I was feeling like my writing was really going somewhere. I still felt energized by my students and I was still going to parties.
So really, I wasn’t alone. What I was actually feeling was loneliness.
I think it’s something that gets confused by a lot of people, myself included. Right now I’m alone for chunks of some days when I’m grading or planning lessons or writing and Chris is with the kids. But I don’t feel lonely. On the flip side, I was almost never alone a year ago (I was almost always with students or my kids) but I felt lonely at moments when I’d miss Shawn, or when I’d just simply miss being part of a couple.
That feeling is one that I can still access, sitting here on the bathroom floor. It’s not one I feel right now but it’s one that I remember so vividly that I can easily feel it in my bones if I take a moment to close my eyes and remember. It’s an ache to touch someone, a desire to feel comforted, a need to feel heard. It’s the feeling of being so alone, even when there’s other people who are physically around you. Sometimes I was able to get my needs met by my friends and family, but sometimes I just couldn’t. Sometimes I was stuck in loneliness.
And so I’m sitting here, in this spot on the bathroom floor, trying to think of the wisdom that I gained from living through so many lonely moments. What answers do I have for widows who feel lonely? What thoughts do I have about how to deal with the loneliness that often increases at the holidays? What’s the point of this blog post, anyway?
I don’t have any answers. I rarely do. But what can say is this: I have been there. It’s horrible. It’s not a linear path to the other side because dammit is there really another side anyway? Sometimes you just have to live with the loneliness. But you can also live with the knowledge that someday, things will be different. You may not find a perfect happy ending where you never feel pain (okay, you will not find a perfect happy ending where you never feel pain because that’s totally unrealistic.) You may not find a new partner or launch yourself onto a new career. You may not find that everything changes and you arrive at a magical new life.
But some things will be different in the future. So if you’re hurting this holiday season, you can at least hold on to that: the knowledge that things will change as time passes. Not everything. But some things.
And slowly, it won’t feel quite so lonely on that spot on the bathroom floor.