Mastering the Art of Loneliness

I am a conundrum. 

There are so many aspects of myself that I question. 

Here are some examples: 

I am bisexual with a preference for women, yet here I am in a healthy, loving, committed eleven-year relationship with a man who I love more than a hobbit loves The Shire and food.

I love my family, and yet I don’t speak with them much at all.

I enjoy writing, and yet I am lacking inspiration.

But my personal favorite: 

I thrive in my alone time, yet I am starting to drown in the Lake of Loneliness. 

For years I swore off allowing others into my life, and for the most part, I still do this to this very day.

I have told myself day in and day out that my husband and my best friends were all that I needed, but then there are glitches in the matrix where I realize that I am actually lonely. 

I crave friends. 

I crave interactions.

I crave developing and maintaining relationships with others. 

And yet here I am, twenty-seven with a husband and two friends who are my family. 

The issue remains: “Am I actually lonely or do I want what others have?”

I think it is a little bit of both.

I am a difficult pill to swallow.

I am highly opinionated.

I can be clingy.

I have a million ideas and I want each one to come alive.

I don’t sugar coat things.

I ask the questions that most people don’t want to answer.

See the problem with knowing that you aren’t really likeable is knowing that you aren’t really likeable. 

My issue is that it is hard for me to put on a mask. 

Some people can hide everything that they are feeling and thinking with ease, but I just can’t do that.

I don’t like confrontation, but I also don’t like bullshit. 

As the kids used to put it: I am not fake. 

You get what you get with me. 

I also am not the type of person that trusts someone right off of the bat.

Some may say that this is a coping mechanism due to previous trauma.

Like I am building a wall against my fragile soul to protect myself from getting hurt.

But I just think it is being smart. 

I am being cautious, sure. 

But I am just being smart.

So here we are.

Faults and flaws filled to the rim. 

And I am confused by my emotions.

Do I want more friends or is this another glitch?

I think I want more friends.

I think I am done with mediocre friends though.

I don’t want acquaintances. 

I don’t want friends that I meet up for coffee with to say hi for an hour once every other month. 

No.

I want relationships.

I want a friendship where we can sit on one of our couches and have deep conversations about the world.

I want a friendship where I can trust and rely on them and vice versa.

I want a friendship where we can feel safe around each other.

Where it feels like that friendship was destined.

Like you are soulmates in the friend realm. 

I have had relationships like this, and they are beautiful.

Your life becomes a little bit better than before.

You start to smile a little more often.

But more times than not, they dwindle away.

I am over that.

I want something that lasts.

I want a true friendship. 

I have mastered the art of loneliness.

Now I want to conquer the world of relationships. 

Why I Will Be Spending the Holidays Alone

I have made a decision that could forever impact my relationship with my family members, and I refuse to feel bad about it. I lived in Texas for three and a half years, which means that there were three years where I did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with a lot of my family members. At the time, it was awful. I felt so lonely and I missed everyone so much. Phone calls felt like salt being poured in the wound, and times that used to feel magical turned dark and depressing. 

I live within an hour of all of my family now, but I have made the choice to not spend holidays with anyone this year. Last year spending time with my loved ones felt perfect, but there are HUGE differences between times past and the present. 

First off, I live in America. I think everyone across the globe realizes that the way the coronavirus was handled here was laughable at best, and now we are suffering the consequences as a nation. I feel like our leader isn’t the only one to blame, due to the countless people who actively decide to throw parties, not wear masks, etc, but nonetheless, these people could be umbrellaed under Trump and his negligent and careless response to this deadly global pandemic. Anyways, with spikes starting to occur again, and many questioning if the second wave is here, I do not feel comfortable being indoors, in a smaller space, with lots of people. Especially as an immunocompromised individual I need to take as many precautions as necessary. Now the family members reading this are probably upset at this point do to the fact that I am traveling out of the country in less than a week to attend my best friend’s wedding, however, we pretty much have the resort to ourselves, everything is going to be outside, we all had Covid tests that were sent out to a lab, and we will be wearing our masks. I am also traveling to Salem for a few days after that, where I will be practicing social distancing, I will be getting tested again for Covid, and I will be wearing a mask. 

Now another reason why I won’t be participating in this year’s holiday festivities is because of the election. Most, if not all, of my parents have different beliefs than I do, and that is totally fine! However, I do not like or appreciate the way that some of them have handled it. Now, I have been VERY vocal about where I stand, and there have been times where I have said things when I probably should not have. I have been honest and upfront about my lack of respect for those who follow Trump, and although that may be hurtful, at least I am being honest. And just to clarify, I haven’t lost full respect, but respect has been lost. I know for a fact that they think I am “crazy” for my beliefs, so it couldn’t come as a surprise that I feel that way. Anyways, I don’t feel like being gaslighted or told that I am wrong or told that I am crazy for voting for the side that actually gives a fuck about civil rights, so I am making the choice to avoid those conversations. Also, it is difficult to have a conversation with anyone who refuses to hear where you are coming from. I have found that Trump supporters like to just yell at you when you start speaking about what you believe in or they just insult you. 

Thirdly, I am skipping holidays due to my mental health. Everyone has had to go through depression and anxiety this year, especially with Covid and the election. For those who suffer from clinical mental health issues, this year has been actual hell. I think that the chaos that has been this year has finally caught up to me, and as a result, I have suffered with my mental health. I have been working with the same therapist for over a year now, and I am accepting that I am allowed to create boundaries for myself if I feel like they need to be there. I used to be that person that didn’t prioritize myself and my well-being over others, but I am not that way anymore. If you have kept up with my pieces, you would know that I was kind of reborn earlier this year. I firmly believe that this was my “selfish” year. This was the year where I focused on healing myself, on finding myself, on figuring out what I wanted out of this lifetime. This was the year that I really became confident and happy with who I am. I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me. I stopped dropping my life for others when they are incapable of doing the same for me. I even gave my husband an out, because he was uncomfortable with my newfound freedom and realizations. At the end of the day, twenty-twenty was a terrible year, but it also… wasn’t? I feel found. I found myself. Twenty-twenty was my year of metamorphosis, and I am happy that I can finally see my value. When you respect yourself life becomes so much sweeter. I know that there will always be things that you need to do that you do not want to do, but there are going to be times where you can choose to not participate in something. My stance is that although my personal evolution is something that I am happy and proud of, there are many other factors as to why I need a break. This year has been toxic. This year things have come to light that have swayed me in a different direction. This year has been rough. Like I mentioned before, my mental health has paid the price for that. I refuse to sacrifice myself and my energy just to appease others, so I am taking a break. 

This is a toxic time. This is a time where we must be diligent about protecting ourselves. I have worked tirelessly with my therapist to come to this realization that it is okay to distance myself for a bit from everyone, including those that I love. This is what I need to feel better. This is what I need to get my energy back on track. This is what I need to detox of toxicity out of me. I love my family and my friends, I really do, but I am just starting to love me and take care of me and I need my time. 

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness and celebration, but if you don’t feel that do you really need to “celebrate?” No. Anyday can be a holiday if you really think about it, and it is okay if you need to isolate for a bit in order to heal and work on yourself. I am sure that a lot of people reading this will be upset by the words that I have written, and that is okay. You are just as entitled to your feelings just as I am entitled to mine. I wish I felt bad about not wanting to celebrate the holidays, but I really don’t. I already feel happy. I already feel like I can breath. I love that I am going to have this time to continue healing myself, and I like the pressure is off and that I am no longer anxious about that. 

Don’t feel guilty about giving yourself time. You deserve to go through your journey and process however you need to do it, and don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you are making a selfish or bad choice. Take care of you, it will be the best thing that you can do.

Salem: Part One

I always think about traveling. A lot of times, just for fun, I hop on Expedia and plan trips that I know I will never be able to take. I plan out the flights, the hotel, and the activities. I look at restaurants and I deep dive into the history of where “I am going.” There are so many places that I could only dream of going to when it comes to international travel, and there are places within my own country that I have always wanted to explore. So when the opportunity presented itself for my very first solo trip, I jumped on that quicker than a cheetah going after its prey.

The good news was this: I was finally going to be able to go on a trip! But the dilemma was this: I am literally the most indecisive person that has ever existed, so choosing a place to travel to put me in distress. (Wow, what a problem to have you spoiled brat.) I briefly thought about the pacific northwest, but ultimately decided to pass on that. If I were going to go on a domestic trip I wanted to make sure that I chose a place that I have always wanted to go. I then narrowed it down to three choices: Washington DC, New Orleans, and Salem. I decided that I wanted to save Washington DC so that one day I could go with my dad, so now it was between New Orleans and Salem. New Orleans has always intrigued me, and during my time in Texas, I always wanted to go on a road trip there. My husband had been there many years prior to our relationship and wasn’t a fan, so he never wanted to go with me. Salem is a place that I have often thought about. Its deep and morbid history always seemed to have some sort of calling to me, so I finally made the decision to make my way east.

I had been to Massachusetts once before, and it was probably the best trip that I have ever been on. A week after my twenty-first birthday my best friend and I went to Boston to visit her sister, and it was such a memorable trip. We saw the Freedom Trail, we went whale watching, and we drank like fish. It was incredible and I remember it fondly. I always talked about making my way back to Massachusetts, so when I made my final decision about traveling alone to Salem, I was beyond excited. Like, embarrassingly excited. The moment I booked my flight and my hotel, my body became mostly adrenaline and I couldn’t stop telling my family and friends about the plans that I had just made. After a couple of hours of nonstop talking, jumping, and screaming, “I’m going to Salem!” I finally wore myself out and needed to go to bed. It is safe to say that I made the right choice.

When I woke up I was still massively excited, but for another reason other than the vacation aspect of it. Of course, I was incredibly eager to visit a place that I have always wanted to visit; however, I was also excited because I saw this solo trip as an opportunity to explore self-love. You see, as independent as I like to think that I am, I still think that there is a part of me that relies on others for certain things. Take New Orleans for example. I never road tripped there because my husband never wanted to go with me, and I honestly don’t think I ever thought about going on my own. When it comes to big things such as travel, I have always had it in my head that if I can’t find someone to go with me then I just won’t go at all. But after thinking about that mindset, I started to become upset with myself. This is my life. This is the one chance that I have to learn and to explore and to do things that will bring me happiness. So why have I always thought that I couldn’t do something as incredible as traveling on my own? Why have I put aside the places that I wanted to experience just because I couldn’t find another person to experience it with me? So when I booked this trip to Salem, a place that I have always wanted to go to, but no one else that I was close to was interested in, I started a new chapter in my life. The chapter where I actively make an effort to do things for myself that will bring me joy.

I think that there is a difference between being selfish and making sure that you are being kind to yourself. So far in my life, I have never seen myself as a priority. My husband, my animals, my family, and my best friend have always been the most important to me. I became so used to being shut down when it came to experiencing things with the people that I care about, that whenever I asked someone to do something with me I became numb to the feeling of my desires being put to the side. But the funny thing is, I never had to do that. I have had the power all along to follow through with the things that I have wanted, but I guess I just never saw it that way. I suppose I thought that experiences such as traveling would be more meaningful or special if it was experienced with someone you care about, but then that made me think, “Wait a minute, I care about myself. I could do with some quality time alone.” And the moment I had that epiphany was the moment that I changed my life for the better.

I didn’t really have any fears about traveling alone. Although my family, my husband, and my best friend were worried about my safety, that was never a concern of mine. My two biggest concerns were being away from my animals and, as silly as this may sound, eating alone at restaurants. Yeah, the thought of possibly getting hurt in a freak accident or being sliced and diced by a stranger never crossed my mind, but eating alone… Frightening. I am proud to say that I conquered my fear of eating alone like the true champ that I am, but leaving my animals and not having control over their safety is still anxiety-inducing. But whenever I get too worried, I just have to remind myself that they are safe and are in good hands and that I am allowed to enjoy myself while I am away.

I booked my trip pretty last minute, so the seven days between booking the trip and leaving were filled to the brim with buzz and eagerness. I spent hours upon hours planning out the areas that I wanted to explore, looking into tours, browsing the shops, and researching nearby restaurants. I wrote out everything that I wanted to do and figured out how far it was from my hotel. I made an organized list of each place with the addresses, hours, prices, and what kind of activity each place was. (Everyone, meet Brookana. She is type a.) The more I planned, the more ready I was to start this new adventure.

I woke up at four in the morning the day that I left, and all of my excitement turned into anxiety and sadness. I couldn’t believe that I was going to go to another state all by myself. What if something happened to the animals? What if something happened to my husband? What would I do if someone got hurt and I was a thousand miles away? What about eating alone?! I looked down at my dog, Luna, as I was about to leave and just saw betrayal in her eyes, and I felt immediate guilt. All these fears and insecurities crept back in, and they kept intensifying the closer I got to the airport. While I was sitting at the gate, I spoke to my husband on the phone as he was driving to work and all I felt was longing for him. I missed him and the furbabies already. For a moment, just a brief moment, I thought about leaving the airport and going back home. But then I realized that I was allowing my fears and my doubt to control the amazing thing that I was about to experience, and I shut it down as fast as I could.

When I boarded the plane I was feeling pretty confident and I felt my excitement starting to creep back in, but I was still slightly worried. But with that being said, the moment the plane started to accelerate down the runway and I felt that we were off of the ground, I caught myself smiling.

Plane Picture 1