07 June 2008

On being alone

They warned me that sleep would be one of the first things to go, but I wish I could have overcome the illness first – apparently being overtired only exacerbates the nausea. Okay, no ‘apparently’ about it.

I’ve been bedridden since Tuesday - among books, comics, unwashed clothes and empty cereal boxes - and whereas most others would at least be contemplating the full bottle of Ibuprofen in the next room, I've found something almost cathartic about the whole experience.

Honestly, it takes me right back to childhood. Not that I spent all that time alone by choice – I was very social, though circumstance often dictated five hours of television or two stacks of young adult novels, take your pick. Sometimes I would play my favourite songs on repeat and sing along, imagining that if someone could only see me, I’d be made famous on the spot. And with fame would come beauty, and with beauty, popularity.

It’s not complete bullshit, that theory. As soon as I dropped my ‘baby fat’ (some very tenacious young fat, that ‘baby fat’), I had loads of friends, including the boys that once made galumphing dinosaur noises behind me while I walked. Maybe not those specific boys, but I was always grateful that their attention was finally positive.

Anyway, things moved very quickly after that. I graduated high school, went to university and put all my effort into honing the parts of me I knew others would find attractive - body and mind. I didn’t have a minute to myself, and I didn’t think much about that.

Then my not-so-brief stint with mental illness came and went, and I spent a great deal of time alone. I didn’t know how to be alone anymore, but I was at a loss with others too, and somehow it felt harder to be reminded of that. So I bided my time (three years, four) until the awkwardness mostly passed, and then I was right back into things.

Having spent the last year and a half in a loving relationship, living and working in a challenging environment, I find it hard to believe that my priority was once drinking beer in a pub with people I didn’t even like, and who didn’t like me. I guess the path of least resistance runs mainly downhill, into that murky last call for hopes and dreams. And I had nothing to climb back out for, not for a long time.

It’ll be my thirty-second birthday on the nineteenth of this month – not a bad time to take ownership of how my life has developed so far. I can’t connect the dots between my childhood and the present tense; couldn’t say for sure there’d even be a constellation. There are some glaring similarities, though, between the uncomfortable adolescent I was then and the woman I’ve become, and what amazes me most is that I don’t feel the need to resolve this.

Being alone is not my forte, it never was. But the time I’ve spent alone here, anxious about my body and the future, is probably the most honest thing I’ve ever embarked on. Whatever that is.


pk said...

Sweetness shines out of everything you write, I'm presumptuously here to tell you, so that you will be fine, and more to the point for my selfish purposes, you write beautifully, and have the most deliciously balanced sentence (and paragraph) structure I've seen since I read Kate's profile on RSVP.
And look how interesting you have become!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about interesting but...wow, thank you. You are much too kind, mrs s.