I’ve written about this many times, but June is a very difficult month for me. This year, a particular challenge has been my trauma processing work – digging in deep to some stuff that’s so hard to face, so painful, so so so much I can’t discuss with anyone except my therapist. And my therapist is on vacation next (much deserved.) So my loneliness is here.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with anxiety, especially social anxiety. Struggle or not, I still did things. I went to movies and plays and out to dinner. I honestly don’t know if the trauma processing or the start of the pandemic made it worse. Probably both? But being at home without having to really go anywhere was destructive to me. Because now I barely can go anywhere.
I had had high hopes this year. We put in a nice patio two years ago and had some nice furniture out there. I bought solar lights. It was cozy and comfortable and sweet. I anticipated this year would be even better – evenings on the patio with the honeysuckle scent and lovely sunsets over the West End Bridge. During the pandemic plenty of people came over to sit in our backyard with us, sometimes with a firepit and sometimes not. We had an umbrella in the yard – this was before the patio was installed.
Surely the fusion of the new patio with the people enjoying our yard with us would mean I could have safe outside nice gatherings to help me during this really tricky part of my trauma work. I got the kitchen deck organized with deck boxes for the cat colony stuff. I bought a few colored pots for flowers and bought seeds and dirt. I thought “this will be it!”
First, our upper deck began to collapse so it had to be removed, an unplanned hit to our budget. But necessary. It looks like the back of a shade tree contractor’s truck blew up in our backyard. The actual contractor left just grime and dust and dirt everywhere, the person who actually put in the patio for what it is worth.
So now we have a little kitchen deck where everything is crammed and it looks deplorable. No one would want to sit out there. It is sad and small and dirty.
For some reason our grill ended up on the patio and that looks tacky af. The umbrella doesn’t open. The seeds never got sown, the pots are fading in the sun (upper deck was also the roof and provider of shade.) It just feels like a little scene of desperation and what-could-have-been.
Because I don’t have the energy to plant the seeds and clean the patio and make the furniture nice. My soul is broken from trauma. My lungs are crippled by air pollution. My heart is sad. And I feel ridiculous resenting this. Our lawn guy is great about errands but he shows up when I’m not here to ask him to do them. It is just lots of missed communications.
When I was a kid, we had a front porch. It was cement or concrete or whatever. We had an ugly awning and drop down shades. I spent many, many hours tidying it up, rearranging the mismatched patio furniture, trying to create a space that was welcoming and pretty and … well, a mask for what was happening in our family. If the outward facing space could look nice and welcoming, perhaps people would not look beyond the front screendoor?
But I had no actual resources except my imagination to pull anything together. It never looked right. People rarely came by. And eventually I stopped trying.
This year hearkens back to that one. Everyone has returned full throttle to pre-pandemic lives with gusto and zest. It is fine if I don’t want to come along, but they aren’t stopping for me. They have their reasons and I’m not here to dissect them. But I made a conscious choice to stop running from my trauma and that means I have to cope with the symptoms of recovery. Being alone is one of them.
I wish I had a fairy godmother to fix the patio so I can focus on fixing me. Not fixing, healing, right? I wish I had places to crawl that others would join me and sit with me and keep me company instead of trying to cajole me into going places. But fairy godmothers are not a real thing. Acknowleding our hurt, our sadness, and our loneliness is still important and ultimately more likely to lead to long term improvements.
Sometimes people in recovery or healing or whatever is going on don’t need more than your company. A glass of iced tea, a mosquito buzzer, and the comfort of companionship. One thing I miss dearly from my departed friends and family are folx to watch reruns with me on tv. Such a weird thing to miss, but it is true. I’m just looking for a pace that keeps my heart calm and my mind quiet sometimes.
I want someone to slow down and see me, hurting and all, then be willing to just stay in that space with me.
So today I dusted off some of the patio and tried to scrabble together a nice enough view for me to sit tonight by myself while people are doing their summer things. It wasn’t very successful (see air pollution) but I tried.
Otherwise, I haven’t left my house in weeks except to drive Laura to/from work and a few vet appointments. I walk to my colony each day, but I hustle for reasons I won’t get into here. I went to Eat ‘n Park with Laura once. Mostly, I just don’t go places. I have a lot of Zoom meetings and keep an active online presence. People don’t notice. I need company and companionship, not to be on the go. They can’t give that to me now.
I hoped this summer would be a little different, but it is okay – I certainly know I can survive without a patio aesthetic and I can always find reruns to watch.
I did buy a new swimdress (with pockets) for the first time in ten years so maybe that will get me out of the house to the pool. Maybe.
I know that being alone so much is not healthy for me. But I also know that I can’t do what I can’t do.
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