It shows up unannounced and doesn’t know when to leave
It is not like me to forget to respond to a text message from one of my brothers. We’re close. We usually speak multiple times per week. On this day, we had been communicating during one of my breaks, and I mentioned heading back to work. His response, “Okay, sis. Text me later.” I had all intentions to do so, but then 8:30 p.m. hit the dot, and I found myself buried in a recently gifted book of poetry to ease my troubled mind, and I remembered, “Oh! I have to text TJ back.”
Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness. I sent my brother a message to apologize for my tardiness. I told him I was having an emotional time and decided to read to curb the anguish.
Naturally, he wanted to know what was wrong. I told him I was experiencing a brief bout of loneliness. It comes. It goes. Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet. I did not have to ready the sage or drown myself in encouraging prayers. He said something I would have never expected from him. “You sound like me, sis.”
I shook my head in total disbelief. My brother has never had any trouble connecting with a woman. He isn’t shy. He doesn’t show off. He typically says what’s on his mind. And from my view of being on the outside looking in, he doesn’t have to try hard. I responded, “Yeah . . . but you have no trouble connecting. I’m shyer in that area.”
Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness.
Apparently, my younger brother was struggling at the same time I was, and I had to raise my ears to the presence of sound and focus more on listening to him. Perhaps now that he has gotten older, connectivity is waning. I am nine years older than TJ, however, between us, it’s always felt like we’ve only been a few years apart. Our bond is that strong.
And he’s one out of the five boys who can really get me upset when he’s out of line. The other is our youngest brother. For some reason, these two and I are linked solidly, and the links of our chain cannot be removed easily.
Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet.
He told me he is shy when meeting new people or even trying to approach them as well, and this floored me. My brother has had some challenges, and being a young father is one of them. In my mind, the battles with loneliness or trying to boost one’s confidence cannot overthrow him.
But it can. And it has. And I wonder how many times has he wanted to talk about this but decided against it? How many times has he wanted to just talk about being lonely regardless of the love surrounding him, and felt as though it would fall on deaf ears? At the end of our conversation, we agreed I would have to attempt to be more open to new people, and he would as well.
And this did not bat off loneliness. No, she still stood strong in her stance, defiant and stubborn. But now I have a reason to believe I can kick her out earlier than I normally would. I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will not spare its vacancy for the likes of her.
I will not allow loneliness to sit idly along with the marks of my time, waiting for the best opportunity to pummel me into submission. I will devise plans and invent ways of booting her from entry before she settles in. I can . . . I can do this.
I tell my brother I will speak to my therapist about social anxiety and the loops I have been experiencing lately. He agrees this is the best thing to do; that every step I take will get me closer to where I need to be. And I tell him I am here for him — his sounding board for when loneliness wants nothing but a stabbing chance at his heart. He knows. He says he knows.
I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will but spare its vacancy for the likes of her.
So, the next time loneliness attempts to high-step into the peacefulness I have arranged for myself, I’ll tell her this room is full. I’ll hang up the no vacancy sign and show her the door.
She won’t get in if I don’t hand her the keys.
Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium
Musical Selection: Erykah Badu, Bag Lady
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