Archive for the 'loneliness' Category


the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?


mystery grief

mystery griefGrief is gradual, immediate and mysterious.  It can also take one completely off guard.

My husband and I had different relationships with Sam; we showed our love to her in specific ways.  His was more of a playmate and mine a nurturer.  Towards the end, even when we had her leg amputated, her relationship with my husband changed drastically.  No longer could she run to him or chase the ball or him.  She slowed down immensely which caused us to adapt to her new condition.

For me, this transition went easier because a lot of my interaction with her was based on caretaking and affection.  To put it bluntly, I always gushed over her and now I had an excuse to do it even more.  If it were up to me she would have had all her meals and water in the comfort of her bed.  Her dependency increased until we were helping her with most everything – even standing up.  The drastic change from having her need me so utterly and completely to being left alone has affected me deeply.

I realized it today as I was folding some towels and thought that I’ll never get to give her a bath or dry her after being out in the rain.  That started an avalanche of “never agains” which led me to crawl back under the covers and stay there until mid-morning.  Later I forced myself to get out and do some therapeutic shopping.  I came home and she still wasn’t there.

What makes this loss most difficult is that I cannot look to anyone, including my husband to fill it.  I cannot expect him to need or depend on me as she did.  Yes, we can look to one another for comfort and additional affection, but no one can fulfill the role she played in my life.  Perhaps I’ll learn to live without that aspect in my life or maybe I’ll find a different way to cope.  All I know now is that I’ll never know anyone else like her; and because of that I am so grateful that she was in my life, even for a short time.


Not gone. Just no longer here.

not gone. just no longer here.One week.  That’s how long it’s been since we said goodbye.  But it feels more like a year.

My husband said it so well when he explained that Sam is not gone, she’s just no longer here.  That’s exactly how I feel.  I can’t accept that I will never see or touch her again.  It just won’t compute in my brain or heart yet.  And maybe it never will.  But I am keenly aware of the emptiness I feel.  Here’s a bit from my journal:

How does one see, hear, feel, or smell emptiness?  Let me tell you.  There’s a persistent ache in one’s chest which penetrates to the back and then travels down the spine affecting the limbs.  It makes all movements heavy and exhausting.  The nerves of your fingertips are numb yet hungry.  Reaching out for something that is no longer available to you.  Forever grasping but never touching.  Breathing becomes a chore as your chests forces itself up and down against the invisible force pushing down on you.

Then there’s the vacant space that is constantly surrounding you, reminding you that you are alone.  It too presses in on you, almost suffocating the air.  You fool yourself into hearing things or even seeing things; the shape of a discarded shirt lying on the floor plays tricks on your eyes.  A small creak or moan wakes you up from a trance.  Could it be?  No.  No it is not and never will be again.

But the smell.  The smell lasts the longest.  It lingers in every article you touch and you inhale it as if you are trying to embrace and swallow the very soul of another.  But that other is not there.  The smell is not satisfying because it is vacant; stale, second hand.  Its origin far away, forever dissipating until it is dispersed throughout the universe – diluted beyond memory.  Soon you hold on to the emptiness because that is all you have and it reminds you of the time that it wasn’t empty.

I want to keep her alive but I can’t trust my senses to do that.  I simply choose to believe that she is not gone, she is just no longer here.



lonely but not alone

lonely  but not aloneWhen we think of loss we remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone.  For me, this did not bring comfort, for no one else could hope to fill the emptiness which one unique creature had fulfilled.  However, that is not what the phrase in this instance means to implicate.  I soon learned this over the past two days.

The day after my dog’s death we ran into a coworker of my husband’s whose dog was having health issues.  He offered us his condolences and support.  Little did he know that only three days later his wife would have to say good bye to their dog while he was away on business.  It was then that he turned to us for comfort and we opened our understanding hearts to him.

Then, just today, a professor came to class weeping.  She had shared previously that she had a pet with a heart condition.  My instincts told me that these tears were related to this information.  I met her in the hall and she confirmed this inclination.  We cried together as we shared the pain of helplessly watching our loved ones suffer and dreading their loss.

In this short time I found that I was not alone.  I will forever be lonely for my Sam, but I will find strength in sharing her memory with those that have experienced an irreplaceable loss.  And together we will emerge from our grief.