Olivia was on fortnightly respite last night, and so I took advantage of the evening free of parental responsibility to take myself out to supper.
Spooning up my aloo gobi with my naan, I was suddenly overcome with loneliness: Indian food is best eaten in ensemble, and sitting there alone, on a cold and rainy night, in an almost-empty restaurant, my world suddenly felt very very empty.
Truth be told, the powerful feeling at play was not loneliness itself, but a sense of embarrassment about feeling lonely at all: I’m a self-confident, independent person, and the idea of needing other people in my life feels like some kind of unhealthy codependency.
Thinking Pete knows this isn’t true, knows connections are important, knows the shame is irrational. And yet, there I was, feeling it.
The problem with writing about loneliness is that well-meaning friends and familiars start to worry about you, and, being well-meaning, feel they should help solve the problem by stanching the loneliness with invitations to coffee, lunch, and plowing matches. Which are all wonderful in their own way, and appreciated. But have no effect on the deep down loneliness.
It’s not really about wanting someone across the table to talk to, order a palak paneer, perhaps make an obscure reference to J.D. Salinger, and suggest we go for a walk after–all of which would be nice, who’s kidding who–it’s about something far more existential, something related to my sense of self, my place in the world, my ability to make connections to other people.
In the engine rebuild that is grief, each of those is under repair, and the effect is discombobulating.