Monday, May 05, 2008

Lonely is as lonely does

I went to a conference out of town this last week. While the event was interesting and even fun in some ways, I had a key insight. Without my usual distractions and err ah medications at home, I realized just how lonely I am. Of course, being a business conference, there were opportunities to spend time with like-minded men, but that is just a quick fix and the loneliness came rushing back (well, it was always there; I was just marginally distracted for a bit).

Before I left for my trip, I read about a man that had cared for his son with autism for the past 40 years. And recently the father had a heart attack and couldn't care for his son anymore. In an interview, the father talked about his loneliness (his wife had died some years earlier) and the burden of the care for his son. Because of the son's behavior, people wouldn't come to visit or be available as much as they were in the past. So, for the past decade or so, this dad was on his own with a mentally compromised son…no social life, no help from others, nada.

I've written here before about friends disappearing and as H's dementia has progressed, even our long-time friends are staying farther and farther back. Oh, they are there with a phone call and worried when H is in the hospital yet again, but they have faded away, pacing H's decline. His family has done the same.

And as my distress increases in these late days, I'm not the most fun person to be around anymore and so my friends have faded back and I'm less inclined to engage. Part of this is depression (I refuse to take anti-depressants anymore) and part of this is that I'm so burned out and grief-stricken watching this tragedy unfold that I'm just not engaged in life enough to have stuff to talk about other than how whacked I am. And bottom line, I'm sad and distressed and have been for years now.

Now that I'm back from my trip, I've spent some time with H and the loneliness is still there. Whatever it is that I need in this regard, he obviously can't provide. It is distressing to be in the room with your partner of so many years, crazy or not, and still feel lonely.

While I can't take responsibility for everyone else's issues (tho' I certainly do try to from time to time), I can take responsibility for mine. I don't get out much anymore and when I do, I'm afraid that I don't feel like a very interesting person anymore. I need to take steps to end my isolation, even as H slips more and more into his and pulls me along with.


mike said...

You may think you're not as interesting, but what you're going through and the life perspective you've been sharing are much more interesting and meaningful than most of my friends' lives who run scared from the harsh realities of life -such as visiting sick friends. Know that even if you don't get verbal appreciation, you're respected for your strength. And those friends who don't come around are just afraid and embarrassed of their own shortcomings.

samjmpkj said...

Hi. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I appreciate them. I feel lonilier than I ever imagined possible. And, I don't know what to do about it.
Not now not after I v'e raised my children, divorced my husband and opened my eyes.
I can see myself becoming further and further withdrawn, even though I know I need to "socialize". It's like a nightmare where there screaming at me to run, and my legs won't move. Although, my heart is racing as though I were running for my life.

A Single Man said...

it's OK to be afraid when things change so much. i am. courage is going forward in spite of fear. give yourself some grace and time to adjust. maybe see a counselor to help?