What do you say to someone when they ask you something about yourself?
Do you tell them about your family, likes, dislikes, friends? Or do you tell them the truth?
The truth that everything in your life is a way, a ruse, a distraction for you to compartmentalise your loneliness? If someone asks me why I rewatch The Office a million times over, I can’t tell them that I watch it to feel a sense of familiarity and warmth, because watching something that I once loved provides me with a coping mechanism to run away from the demon that sits under my bed, a demon that’s invisible to the naked eye.
And that’s true for all of us isn’t it, our favourite songs, films, books, shows, clothes, food, people, they’re our escape from the hard grinding truth. From our loneliness.
I can sit at my bed and binge 12 episodes straight, finish a full meal, speak and laugh with someone I love for hours on end. But by the end of the night, it’s only that demon under my bed who knows my truth. When I lay awake for hours, thinking back to what could’ve been and what could be. It’s that demon who sees how truly lonely I am.
It’s not that I don’t have people to love or people who love me, I do. Unfortunately, I’ve felt lonely when I had no one to talk to, and I still feel lonely when I’m sitting in a room full of people who want to hear me talk. I’m not ungrateful, don’t mistake me for someone who doesn’t care. I care more than I’ve ever been cared for.
But that’s the thing about loneliness isn’t it? No amount of distractions can fill that wide gaping hole in the middle of my chest. Every day yet another part of me dives deep into it, never to be seen again. I don’t know what more it wants. I feed it shows and songs and films and love and food, but it just won’t stop expanding. It won’t stop hurting. I fear one day it’ll eat me whole, I’ll disappear in that darkness, leaving behind a shrivelled corpse. A shadow of a person I once longed to be.
Some days the fear is overwhelming enough to keep me awake till sunrise, talking to the demon under my bed. Grasping for ideas to not feel lonely, to find stronger distractions to drown out that voice in my head reminding me of my truth. Running, grinding, tossing, turning, but to no avail.
I wonder then, do we ever stop feeling alone? I am less lonelier than I used to be 5 years ago. But I still am lonesome. Maybe next year I’ll find something else to make me feel a little less miserable. Isn’t that what life is? Settling for something that makes you less miserable than the last thing. Because let’s be honest, happiness is a myth. No one truly is happy. Maybe for a moment, for a few hours or even a day. But happiness is fleeting, it’s momentary. It leaves as soon as it comes and then it’s in the past.
They say fake it till you make it, so we all pretend that we’re fine, that we’re happy everyday we wake up, because we think one day we won’t have to act and it’ll become our reality and then finally things will be okay. But what if that never happens? We see our elders who taught us this formula, we see them and we notice how they’re not happy, how they’re never really happy and how they only look happy to us because that’s what they want us to believe, that’s what they want to believe. That’s what we all want to believe. We’re all just ships adrift in this vast ocean of blue, looking for an anchor to settle us down. We sail and sail through daylight and storms, hoping to find that treasure island which will solve every problem in our life.
Although, ever since the world stopped churning on the metal wheels of life, and we’re all sitting down on the race course, looking forward to the coach’s whistle to start running again, I’ve come to terms with my loneliness. No, it hasn’t gone away, I don’t think it ever can. But somehow accepting that fact helps me fall asleep at night. Somehow knowing that whoever I love is also lonely and whoever I’ll love later on will be lonely, maybe they’ll be better at lying about it or perhaps they’ll be worse than me, but the truth of the matter will remain. And knowing that? It makes me feel less miserable. Perhaps, running around to make it disappear isn’t the answer. Filling that hole with coffee and dogs and cakes and Michael Scott isn’t wrong, but also isn’t right. But who even knows what is wrong or right. You can either cry about it and complain every minute of every day or you can let yourself drown in the realisation and sit in the eye of the same hurricane you wish to eradicate. Nothing is wrong, nothing is right. But, hey whatever floats your boat, right?