Monday, March 16, 2015

The lie of loneliness

Dr Brené Brown often says that if you have one or two "move a body" friends in your life, then you are doing really well and I think she has a point.

I often get asked how I am. It's the polite way to make small talk at school drop-off and pick-up, waiting for takeaway coffee, at family gatherings.

Increasingly I realise how few people in my daily life actually want to know how I am. Like, really am. Sure, I'm great with small talk and not so great on sharing my vulnerabilities but I am beginning to see how few people in my everyday life actually can or want to see them anyway.

So I am asked how I am and I answer.

[Eyes glaze over.]

You didn't sleep last night. Well I woke up at three a.m. and my arms and legs were hurting.

You had a fall on the way to pick your daughter up to school and hurt your elbow? That's so funny. [A lot of laughter.] Like the time I skidded on the gravel and had to pick bits out of my leg. Hilarious.

So, invariably, I take the easy way out: I'm well, thanks, how are you? 

I find myself wishing people wouldn't ask. That would be more honest.

It's even worse when I get asked what I am doing for a living these days.

I wish I could write. Actually, I did write something. [Hands me a bit of paper.] My girlfriend and I riffed on all the nasty names we could think of. [Proceeds to read a selection of the aforementioned nasty names.]

That’s what I should be doing.

Oh yeah? What’s-her-name wrote a book, remember her? [Long pause as we all try to remember what's-her-name's actual name.] She used to work in international relations. You know the one. She job-shared with thingummy. [Long pause as we all try to remember thingummy's actual name.] Her book was about what her cat did when she moved from Perth. It was really funny. She sells it on Amazon. [Conversation shifts to experiences ordering from Amazon.]

I thought when you said you were a writer you meant a copywriter. Like, someone who makes money from writing.

Yes, that's very good. Except it's awfully hard if one doesn't have a publisher.

On days when this starts to get on top of me, it helps to remember my "move a body" friends.

Like Penny, who says things like: Wow! Can we just stop for a minute and acknowledge how HUGE this is? And how hard you have worked just to get to this point? Whatever happens, just getting to here is bloody amazing. I’m so proud of you!

Or Alana, who emails me messages like: Is everything OK? Haven't heard from you in a while. No need to reply if you're too busy. Just wanted you know I'm thinking of you. And I'm here if you need me.

Or Kate, who SMSes me things like: Today's blog post was so beautiful, it really resonated! Thank you for writing it.

Or Kath, whom I don't see very often, but when I do says things like: I'm so happy for you that you've found a publisher. You really deserve this opportunity.

Or Jen, who emails me things like: I love your studio SO much! It is so cheerful and bright and perfect. It makes me want to sit in there Indian style on the floor, leaning on a pillow and talk to you for hours and drink WAY too much wine.

Or my sister, who says things like: I love you lots.

I also find that when I surrender my sadness to the universe, I bump into people in the neighbourhood, friendly service providers whom I have got to know, old colleagues who seem happy to see me and keen to know my news.

How it easy it is to feel desperately alone... yet how untrue that feeling actually is.

This post is in response to the eighth prompt of the Reverb14 reflective writing challenge. All prompts can be found here; you are warmly invited to share your response and link to it in the comments below, if you feel called to do so. 

The next opportunity to connect in this way is April Moon and we'd love to have you join us!

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