There is a point in your life when you understand that loneliness is going to feature in your holidays and over the past few years it has been creeping up on us little by little until this year it has hit home in a big way. This is a low point in life. Pao and I, two people in their forties, no children, not much family to speak of, no one to make plans for apart from each other. I look out the windows and see families having fun together and in the run up to the holidays I see people planning a happy time for their families knowing deep down that I don’t really have that myself. I keep busy with my business trying to fill in that gaping gap during the run up to Christmas. It is ok up until the point your stop and realise that there is nothing. You’re busy but everything is so empty.
We usually have a plan for Boxing Day usually entertaining pao’s grandma with a meal but she has been very ill and pao has had proper flu for the past week so we daren’t visit her this year as it could kill her and seeing her so close to death earlier this year is something that I don’t want us to be a cause of.
I used to be a regular church goer but even that has lost its sparkle as it is another place where I feel surrounded by people loving each other and I feel desperately lonely. When pao was very very ill, I used to go alone until I couldn’t bear it anymore. People were well-meaning but life was so hard living with someone chronically ill that it was difficult to see families happy around me especially those with their little kids or new babies. It seemed then that I was unlikely to have that, there was not end in sight to that illness, no hope. So I worked hard to try and find pao some help, myself some help too. Pao’s heart has been fixed and he is relatively well but that now leaves us with a hole. All that time and energy spent on willing pao better has gone away and now we have loneliness to replace it.
So church going is difficult. The words. The songs. The sentiments. Knowing that I don’t have a connection with anyone much any more. I have been so blessed in the past when families have spontaneously invited us to share their Christmas with them but I didn’t go to church yesterday as I had already an invitation out for Christmas Day.
I spent most of the day with relative strangers who despite a connection through marriage, I don’t really know. There was a cast of interesting characters: the acerbic grandmother, the sick, the mother jollying people along, the guests, two badly trained dogs and us with our baggage. It was a relief to be driving away with some of the worst words ringing in our ears – at least the acerbic grandmother was consistent in her treatment of everyone – no one escaped her bitter words. In the evening, we joined some friends for a couple do hours but this, too I felt sad about as I felt I’d invited ourselves as I dropped heavy hints to my friend knowing that they’d have a house full of people they had invited in hopes that we wouldn’t have to spend the evening alone.
So today, the dreaded loneliness has struck. If I don’t make a plan and get busy soon the depression with start and I really won’t get out of this bed and I will be stuck looking at the ceiling and feeling immense tiredness for no reason. So I told pao we would be cleaning today. Not a normal Boxing Day activity but it is something useful to combat those “warpy thoughts” that cognitive behavioural therapists talk off. It’s past 10 because I’m giving him a chance to sleep in since he’s still ill with the flu and I’m about to sit down with a blank page in my notebook to plan out the next 12 empty hours of loneliness before I go to bed again. Now should I start in the kitchen or the lounge?