After a year of loss I learned my unhappiness is tied to loneliness
This year was a very strange one for me. I turned 54, but for some reason there are times when I can’t remember if I’m 54 or 55. All kidding aside, 2015 taught me that I don’t really like being alone. In addition, given the people I have lost, I also learned I shouldn’t waste time and I should take action when I’m inspired to do so. Last but not least, I feel like I’m a different person because it has become more difficult for me to maintain a disciplined approach to living.
I have been a single mother for the better part of 19 years. There were many times through that phase when I dreamt — nay, I sometimes wished — I lived alone. Sometimes when things got really tough, I even regretted the state in which I found myself — mothering solo.
To my surprise, I learned that being alone is the furthest thing from what I really want. During 2015, my two youngest sons began to chart their own path away from me, both physically and emotionally. My middle son, who was always at home, decided to join the National Guard. I dropped him off at his sergeant’s office one day — then silence. I didn’t hear from him for almost a month. I felt like I had lost a part of me. To help ease the pain, I watched basic training videos on YouTube and read everything I could about the National Guard. I joined their Facebook page and searched photos, desperate to see if I could get a glimpse of him. It was awful! All kinds of wild thoughts entered my head, until one day I heard from him. There were letters and phone calls. Then I saw his photo on Facebook. Only then was I able to relax.
My youngest son also turned 20 this year — around the same time my other son joined the National Guard. I finally relented and gave him my car and he decided to take a night job. Whenever he told me he was going to work — usually around 10:00 p.m. — my blood ran cold. I was torn between asking him to stay home and lying awake all night worrying, but I realized he was a grown up. I also realized that I had to control my fear. I decided to believe that God would preserve him, and He has.
Evenings are sometimes the worst. I will come home from work to an empty house. No more loud screaming from video games gone awry. No one to joke around with or tease. No more endless stream of friends coming and going. Just my laptop and me. It sounds sad, but it's not really. I have places I could go, but I just like to be home — just not alone.
Further, during the month of September both my cousin and my uncle died. I was very close to both of them. My grief was compounded because I could not attend either of the funerals. Those losses, coupled with the loss of a friend earlier in the year, created a very dark cloud over my life. I believe the reasons I was so devastated were because one week before my friend died, I saw her near the elevator at work. Prior to that we had canceled several plans to meet up and go on our usual walk. She was a little way off and I didn’t want to yell out her name. I told myself I would call her when I got upstairs, but I never did. About a week later, I heard that she had died. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
About a month before my uncle died, I called him to say hello because I was thinking about him a lot. I got his voicemail and left him a message. Later that day, I received a voice message from him. It went on like that for about a week. I never got to speak to him before he died, just over a month later.
During the summer, my cousin called out of the blue and invited me to take a vacation with him in Jamaica. I refused, telling him there was no reason for me to go with him. He told me he had retired and wanted to visit the home where we had grown up. I told him I would think about it, but I really had no intention of going. Then, early one morning, his sister called to tell me he had passed the night before. I could not believe it.
It seems the year 2015 was the year of loss for me.
I was not only losing loved ones permanently through death, I was losing the closeness of my sons with whom I had developed a lasting bond over a long period of time. I found myself really lost at times and deeply depressed most of the time. It would seem logical that now is the time to spread my wings and do the things I had always dreamed of doing, like traveling and writing, but my life has changed dramatically. The reeling has left me spent of any desire to make any grand plans or to follow my hard-chased ambitions. I have withdrawn from friends and reduced church attendance — not that I wanted to, but I woke up one day and this is where I am.
So as a result of ongoing trauma — and I must admit my 2015 experience is not half as bad as what a lot of people have had to deal with — 2015 has left me feeling like I went through a meat grinder. I think what makes the year so devastating for me is that there were so many unexpected events, and my reaction to multiple shocks have turned my emotions upside down. I have experienced other losses, too, but I do not wish to go into them right now.
Thankfully, I’m getting help. I’m also beginning to dream again. I see great things ahead, if only through a glass, darkly. Next year, 2016 promises to be a year in which I envision myself regaining my health and vitality — a year in which I can start to travel again and discover a purpose to help less fortunate single moms worldwide. This year was full of the unexpected. I suspect 2016 won’t be any different, but I feel the lessons I’ve learned should help in dealing with what 2016 has to offer. I feel I’m stronger, even if I haven’t fully recovered yet.
Finally, there were some very good things that happened during this year. I published my first e-book. My oldest son launched his first single as well as graduated with his second master's degree. Also, as a result of my uncle’s death, 27 members of my family from across the globe have united/reunited via social media. We are now planning a family reunion, which will involve at least 100 family members worldwide. I can’t wait. I’m thankful that despite a rocky year, there were many blessings that did not go unnoticed.