Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Ache of Lonely

You know that thing, where, for days and weeks and maybe even longer, you are strolling along in life, thinking and maybe even knowing that Hey, I think I might be doing more than okay right now - and having this odd sort of confidence in knowing that you are emotionally pretty happy for the most part - and then all of a sudden you are lying in your bed in the dark at 2 a.m. one night, unable to sleep, and you randomly and almost silently start crying because you are so incredibly lonely and you didn't even know it until right that second?

Yeah. That.

On Monday, at grief therapy, I walked in the door and just started crying. Not a hard cry, but a soft one. A silent one at first, that started to then build up from my insides as I started to speak. I find that, with therapy, I often have no idea what I'm going to say when I go in there. Whatever comes out, just comes out, and that is what needs to be said. It's the same way I write. I don't plan it. I don't know how to plan it. Whatever comes out when I start typing, is what needs to be said in that space of time. So I release it.

"I feel left out. It's been 3 years and so enough time has passed that a lot of the widowed friends I met early on are starting to get into new relationships , get re-married, finding new love, and dating. I feel like I'm so far behind everyone else, and I feel like I will never be ready and I will end up being left behind, and Im afraid that I wont have anything in common anymore with my widowed friends, who are some of the only people I can truly be myself around. One of my closest widowed friends had her first date since her partner's death last week. She is one of the people I feel closest to, and we have always sort of been on the same timeline with our loss and our emotions and things, and I hate how this is making me feel right now." The words spilled out all at once, as if knocked over by someone.

"How is it making you feel?", she asked gently.

"Jealous. Lonely. Left out. I'm jealous that other people have the ability to feel things again and to consider dating again. I don't like feeling jealous of my widowed friends, but I feel jealous. I'm jealous because a huge part of me really is scared I will be alone forever, and I'm starting to get scared that I will just be okay with that, and I will become used to it and I will just tell myself it's fine this way and that I already had my great love. But it's not fine, and I'm really lonely. But I'm also not ready or willing to put effort into a new person. I just miss the person I had so damn much, and it aches sometimes."

Last night I went to bed really early, because I  had to be up really early today for my hellish commute to work this morning. My roommate, who is the same age as me and single, has been dating recently after joining a dating site, and she had her first date last night with a new guy. She asked me if it was okay if they hung out here for a bit, if things went well, and I said sure, just send me a text if you're coming back here with him so I can put some normal clothes on and maybe throw on a bra. Yeah. That's how I roll.

Around 11 p.m. I got the text that they would be coming up in a few minutes. I wasn't in the mood to meet anyone new or deal with couple-related-things, so I shut my door to my bedroom and turned off the light and lay in bed with my kitties. After a few minutes of trying to sleep, I started to hear it coming from the other room. The sounds of new love. The sounds of possibility and fresh starts. The flirtatious laughter coming from him, and then her, and then him again, in the ease and flow of an innocent date. I pulled my stuffed Bear that Don gave me all those years ago closer, and I held him tightly, as if his familiar fur would make everything better. The silent, knowing tears came - and I could actually feel my own heart breaking. I could feel the ache that had been sitting there for months, waiting to seep out.

 On the other side of that door, was a life that I once had, and that now I wasn't ready for with anyone other than my husband. Every single day, I go out into the big scary world, and I live my life without him. I have lots of friends, both old and new. I have a good job, and I'm pursuing a careeer in comedy and writing, and trying to use the pain to help myself and others heal. I have a full life and I am generally much happier than I was even just a year ago. But once the day is over and I come home and I close that bedroom door, the world is gone and it is only me. I am then reminded, in the cruelest of ways, that nobody lies in bed with me. I am faced with the cold harsh truth of the nothingness that responds to my voice. I lay there, faintly hearing the giggling coming from the other side of our apartment, and all I can think of in the night is this one thought, like a drumbeat, again and again and again  .....

I am so lonely. I am so lonely. I am so lonely. 


  1. It's worse when it's the wrong person... and you're lonely with someone right beside you... I like this lonely better... I'd like it better if my husband was still here, but I like this lonely better...

  2. Wow Kelley......I'm so very sorry but so very glad you posted this. I was beginning to believe I was the only one who felt this way. That maybe after 3+ years I was supposed to be feeling better than I am. That maybe somehow I was just behind. Every day I "put my game face on", get dressed, and face a world that has no clue what's going on inside of me. And every night I take it off again and face the dark, empty room alone. It's not that we don't have support in friends and family because I/we do. It just isn't the same is it? Hugs and love to you

  3. oh, Kelley - I am so sorry for that awful, painful ache of lonely. I know I have said this before, but there ought to be a better word for "lonely" - I don't think that in our "before" lives we had the slightest clue of how profound it is in this hell of "after". it is so scary to think of having to live a long, long time carrying that feeling - that feeling that is so painful, and has the power to obliterate a lot of other good feelings and makes it feel so bleak and hopeless. it's such a clusterfuck to feel so left out of all the life going on around for others. i can totally relate - when i come home to an empty house and shut the door, the world is gone and i am alone - it feels unbearable, just me, so very lonely.

    i know they won't take away how sad you feel, but just so you know i am thinking of you, hold out your arms 'cause I'm sending you lots of warm hugs.


  4. Kelly, I could have written most of your post (but not nearly as well as you write). I feel the same way - lonely, but not ready or willing to put myself into another relationship. Our timelines are nearly identical, too. I've wondered if there is something wrong with me, and even asked my sister-in-law for her opinion. She quickly told me that I was doing fine and just needed to trust my feelings. So, that's what I'm doing. I "get up, dress up and show up", as my husband used to say when he was ill with cancer. When I go home, the public persona is cast aside and I'm left feeling much as you describe. My heart aches for both you and I, and for all the other women who have found themselves in this damn club none of us ever wanted to be a part of. Sending you ((hugs)) and wishes for peace, love, and joy.


  5. That's what I told me therapist yesterday - that I'm afraid I'm going to be lonely forever. I also said broke and struggling too. At first I used the phrase "alone" but I changed it because I am not alone - I have our 2 daughters, wonderful family and many friends. But on December 10, 2014, it had been exactly 2 years and seven months since my husband of 25 years suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed blood clot. I now have one widow college friend and divorced neighbor that are both planning upcoming spring weddings and I've had one date - I wouldn't even call it that. A casual lunch with a man I met on (with the watchful eye of my friend nearby). He talked about himself and I bought my own salad. That was it. He was nice and it seemed more like an outing with a co-worker or acquaintance, not a real date. I miss my 25 years with my husband, dates and dinners with friends, traveling all over the country attending his conferences and conventions he attended as a reporter, receptions and VIP parties at a press gathering or the Governor's mansion. Family vacations at the beach. Simple things like when he would run down to the local Kroger and buy me a card and flowers. As a widow at 53, I don't think I'll ever have any of that again...

  6. This is so right on. I'm sad to say I'm 10+ years out, and I too feel "behind" others. And the jealousy, even of other widows? OMG yes. Thank you for having the courage to say aloud what many others would not. So many of my widowed friends are in new relationships, and I want that so much that sometimes all I can think is, "Why isn't that happening to me?" It's actually difficult at best for me to be happy for them, even though they're friends and I love them. That SUCKS. :-(

    And of course, the loneliness itself: just...YES. I'm so lonely that sometimes I think it's going to kill me. And I don't feel like I know how to change it...and even if I did I often don't have the energy or the motivation (thank you, depression!). Gah.

  7. Wow...I am on 2.5 years of this thing none of signed up for. I thought it was going to get easier, just a few nights ago...I woke up at 4am and had a very serious talk with God, so what is my purpose, my future, please show me cause this is hard, and I am lonely and sad!!. I too have 2 lovely daughters , friends and a serious job as a outside sales rep. To the world I seem amazing strong and brave. I feel like this is getting harder because it took a long time to wrap my head around being a widow. Now every night when I open the door to an empty house with no one to ask "how was your day?" Were all hard wired for love and relationships, I had an amazing ride for 31 years with a man who completed my sentences! Will I find that again? I am hopeful, cause I didn't die!! Yet i feel like I am inside slowly and I don't want to burden my kids with this emptiness that is growing. Why am I not adjusting to this new "normal" cause it's not and I don't want to grow old alone!