Loneliness Doesn’t Knock

Photo by Leo Kwan via Unsplash

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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The Nature of Horrible Things

And how they still sneak up on you sixteen years later

a man looks down into an almost empty glass of beer
Photo by Jimmy jimmy via Pexels

We meet the afternoon chill in the air with our bodies tucked further into warm clothing. Jernee steps out before I do and I hear my neighbor briskly skip down the stairs. The faint scent of liquor speaks to me before he does. I nod — say “Good afternoon,” and attempt to mind my business by watching Jernee search for a proper spot in which to relieve herself. He is the type of person who does not understand personal space. He comes closer to us and, unlike Jernee with him, she growls under her breath. I step back from him — putting at least three more feet between us.

I recall the time and it’s just barely 1:45 p.m. He is home on his lunch break. He smiles. He sends his “Heyhowyadoin’” to me within seconds of stepping on the final stair. It’s all mumbled together — glued, yet I am fluent in slurred speech. I know this speech just like I know the smell. I know the smell. I know the smell. He has tried to hide it with Old Spice and two gulps of water but to no avail. I cock my head to the side and whisper to myself, this cat is drunk and is going back to work. Hell . . . naw.

He tells me his grandchildren have been staying with them. I know this. I speak to his wife — to their little ones. I see them as they come and go. They are beautiful mini models of their mother and father — his son and his son’s girlfriend’s children. He says as erratic as a functioning alcoholic can, “They get up at 4:30 in the morning sometimes, see. And you know, I don’t get up until 6:30 and that throws my day all off, you see?” I do see. I understand. One’s sleep is important.

He steps closer again. I step back. He holds up one hand and quickly says, “I ain’t gon’ keep ya. I know you gotta walk ya dog.” I thank him. He wanders off toward his car and away from us. His wife knocks on my door five nights later. She has a flier in her hand — an invitation to her church for some sort of celebration. It is the same church she drags him to on Sundays. And I understand — I get it. She is looking to God to save her husband. Just like I was looking to God to save my mother — to save me.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I do not do large gatherings — even if they’re outside. I do not do well in crowds nowadays and neither would I want to. I take her flier. I smile at her. I tell her to have a nice night and to be safe. She smiles back and thanks me.

I ran to the church for so many reasons in my early twenties. I ran even harder in my mid-thirties. So much of me wanted to heal my mother and so much of me needing healing of my own.


I drank because I couldn’t get my mother to stop drinking and doing drugs. I drank because I was afraid of coming out. I drank because I was going through a series of harsh breakups and couldn’t find the answers why. I moved out of the townhouse my best friend and I shared. I left. I gave no reason — only a 30-day notice and paid my half of the utilities and mortgage for the next two months, or was it just the following month? That detail is foggy.

She faced me the day I told her with tears in her eyes, asking me to please talk to her. And I couldn’t. Here was a woman who would cause me to stop drinking. It would occur several months after I moved out. The night I knew I wouldn’t drink anymore, my best friend and I had attended a work-related party at a small pub near her place. Her colleagues — her comfort zone. I am told I had too much to drink. I am told, on the way home, she had to pull over to the side of the road so I could vomit. I am told she had to help me up the stairs, get me into some pajamas of hers, then help me to the toilet so I could vomit some more.

I awakened the next morning in her bed and could not remember what had happened and why I was there and not at home. She was sound asleep, but her expression had seeped in worry. I got up to use the bathroom, and this caused her to stir. I asked her what happened, and she told me. She calmly said, “I was not going to take you home where I could not keep an eye on you. You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And that was my “A-ha!” moment.

When a person loves you enough to ensure your safety in your inebriated state — when they care enough to make sure you’re not sleeping in the clothes you upchucked in the night before — when they clean you up, change your clothes, and guide you to their bed so you can sleep; there is nothing else that can match that. Cold turkey is what they call it, yes? I stopped drinking.

I could not imagine what she must’ve been feeling to do all of that for me and not completely cuss me out, as I had done so many times with my mom. She cared about my life — she showed me. I don’t think no one ever had before then or I had forgotten it if they did.


A year and one half later, I brought Jernee home. I was determined to shield myself from the past evils that attempted to drag me down with them. I needed this four-legged creature to keep me safe — to give me joy. I had something to do when I awakened — something to train, to feed, to nourish . . . to love. I had a feeling of purpose again just barely two years before — I felt I hadn’t, and I did not want to go on.

So when I see my neighbor and he is running away from whatever demons chasing him — I understand. I may not know the cause. I may not know exactly what’s beating him day in and day out and pulling him toward drowning his sorrows in tempting liquor mid-day. I don’t even know why he feels the need to talk to me — to step into my space, but I can listen.

Had it not been for my best friend, I would’ve been following the paths of my maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, great-aunts, aunts, and uncles — my mother. I understand because I can still see the bottles of Hennessy and Tanqueray and Old English my mom kept stored in her home. I can smell each one of them while they’re still locked in their casings. I can see her struggling to piece back together a broken home — a dysfunctional family — unruly boys.

I see myself trying to find a way out. I hear my best friend’s voice . . .“You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And I understand.


*No one’s shit smells like roses and honey, baby. Everyone has a stench.©My late maternal grandmother.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

5 Things I Do Now While Grocery Shopping

Unhinged

Photo by Elizabeth McDaniel via Unsplash

Going to the store now for me is like . . . like playing tug of war or escaping the fiery keep of a dragon. I flit around the store, flailing my body about the square footage as quickly as possible. All the while, in my head, I sing, “Get in. Get out. Get in. Get out.” It is a test of my stamina. How fast can I retrieve the seven items I came in here for, hmm?

I am friendly, but from a distance. I watch the people around me — looking at what they’ve touched — avoiding it. My senses are enhanced — heightened, somehow. I am a supreme ninja jutting through tight spaces, maneuvering myself through the lines of an obstacle course made of rotating germs and aggravated naysayers.

I bolt through the self-checkout, tossing the receipt in the garbage can neatly placed by the lane. I see the doors . . . “EXIT” never looked so sexy as it does when I lunge my body toward it — craving the air outside of the building.

I make it back to my car and I slide inside and crank that baby up and I breathe. I breathe and breathe and breathe and thank God I was successful. I got in and I got out.

And although, I only go to the grocery store if I’ve failed to get some items I needed or if I want a few more things and decline happily to paying the additional delivery fee for so few items. Otherwise, Instacart and Door Dash (Walgreens) are my friends.

I do these five things when I have to make a quick run to my local grocery store.


Keeping my distance.

I was never really big on having someone (I don’t know) very close to me pre-pandemic, so maintaining six feet is easy. Hell, I usually increase that distance by three to four feet.

There’s no need for anyone to get near me unless they’re trying to tell me something or get my attention, and even then, I am shooting them Mr. Burns’ twitchy eye stares if they break the lining of my bubble.

Avoiding areas that are heavily crowded.

And by “heavily crowded,” I mean two to three people. “Sure, I really need to get some more cucumbers, but I’ll avoid that for now. Thelma is thumping on and sniffing the bell peppers and Louise is sampling the grapes. Hard pass.”

Sanitizing my hands.

I work in healthcare. I’m almost certain I bleed alcohol by now. While working at the facility, I would go through bottles of hand sanitizer within a week or just under two. I’d also wash my hands until they were nearly raw.

Suffice to say, I spent my days screening patients for Coronavirus symptoms and came in contact with enough people who were positive to make me want to drink cleaning products. I won’t, though. I haven’t. But give me my hand sanitizer, please.

That is a pre-requisite, henceforth and forevermore.

Using my own shopping bags.

Let’s be real. The plastic most stores are using now has been recycled so many times. A bag of flour, two packs of gum, and a gallon of water will rip one up in a matter of seconds. For convenience and because I know where they have been, I use my own shopping bags. Thank you very much.

And I don’t mind bagging them myself.

Avoiding aisles when others are on them.

This is connected to the second point. I will wait to go down an aisle if over two people are on that aisle. I’ll circle over to another section of the store, get what I need from there, and come back. Usually, I’m successful.

Most times, they’ve gotten what they needed and I can swing on through and grab what I need. No harm, no foul. Keep it moving, folks!


You could be saying to yourself, “These seem extreme,” or “ Hey! I do a few of these too!” Many of these things do not differ from what I did pre-pandemic, they are just upgraded.

The key factor for me is safety. Grocery stores can be death traps and while I treat every day as an opportunity to extend the life I have, I am aware this life could end at any moment.

I’d just rather it not be by contracting a deadly virus while I was examining the expiration dates on my favorite brand of yogurt.


Originally published in Hinged Press via Medium.

Nine Perfect Strangers: We Could All Use a Bit of Tranquillum

Musical Selection: Blue Magic|Sideshow

Or could we?

Photo by Hudon Hintze via Unsplash

The world in which we live is crumbling — bursting at its seams. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am not alone in feeling this . . . in feeling the dark pain that lingers without relent. I believe it is common for human beings to want to flee the bad parts of life — to shut ourselves up and lock ourselves out of the realness of the world when it weighs heavily on our shoulders.

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it? And with our world spinning and crashing the way it has for decades, do you ever wonder when will it all end?

I saw the trailer for Nine Perfect Strangers multiple times and told myself after The Handmaid’s Tale, I couldn’t take another dramatic/dystopian/climactic series. But, with each view of the trailer, my curiosity had been heightened. I adore Melissa McCarthy and have always had a slight crush on Nicole Kidman, so I told myself, “It’ll either be really good or really bad. What do you have to lose?”

Shouldn’t we want relief? Shouldn’t we strive for it?


The Pull of the Series.

Before I knew it, I’d launched myself into the first episode (Random Acts of Mayhem) and had watched the next three without stopping. And now, having watched the fifth one (Sweet Surrender), I want more.

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Liane Moriarty, “Nine Perfect Strangers” takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this 10-day retreat is the resort’s director, Masha, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine “perfect” strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

Having read the above synopsis, wouldn’t you want to dive right in as well? Nine Perfect Strangers, for me, started off strong from the very beginning. I had been pulled into these characters’ lives — it made me seek what they sought — to learn what they were drawn to learn. I could not pull my eyes away from each instance as every character plays a major part. Each one of them has his or her own share of chaotic behavior to lend to the series.

With everything that had been pummeling them, drowning them, beating them senseless, Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

With every episode, I found myself pulled into the strength and presence of Nicole Kidman’s character, Masha. Does she have a God complex or is she truly trying to help the souls she claims to want to save? What’s the bigger picture? What is her ultimate goal?

I see a bit of myself in Regina Hall’s character, Carmel. Two people had hurt me to almost the point of being broken, yet I was not married to either of the two. But, I need to “dissociate myself” from each of them. I need to find peace with being single again. I had it a few years ago, but for some reason, it has fled the scene — no calls, no letters . . . nothing.

I also see myself in Tiffany Boone’s character, Delilah (Dee). I am struggling to save my sanity in a world designed for me to lose it. I have watched someone I love cling to another, yet knew I did not have it in me to give them what they needed. And throughout that time, I still had to wear the mask in public — be professional, carry on with life — act like shit really did not hit the fan.

Tranquillum House was — is supposed to be their escape. It is supposed to be their leap into peace.

The perfectly handsome yet misleading Yao, played by Manny Jacinto, had me burning with intense anger in certain scenes and I became an even bigger fan of Delilah. His intelligence, love of nature, charm, and calm demeanor are all captivating qualities, but his demons aren’t subdued for long. They are revealed and they stir up havoc.


What is Going to Happen?

Everyone in Nine Perfect Strangers has lost something or some things, whether they are physical or emotional — they all share the presence of loss. Tranquillum House, the savior space, headed by Masha and her helpers, reeled them in and is taking them on the most unpredictable ride of their lives.

From casual lies to micro-dosing the nine with psychedelics to playing on their emotions for personal gain or perhaps understanding of herself, Masha is a character you’re going to either love or hate. And I am still on the fence about where I stand with her. Maybe love. Maybe hate. I think the next episode will break the ambivalence for me.

Has Masha found her calling in life — trying to fix the lives of others while purposely ignoring her own trauma, her own impending demise? She coordinated an intact (on the outside) house of healing, yet everyone seems to be breaking down.


Tranquillum — not for me, maybe . . .

At first glance, Tranquillum House seems like one I would pay thousands of dollars for which to retreat, but after pulling back its layers — maybe, just maybe, I better stick to writing and therapy. The foundation and walls probably aren’t the source of my skepticism — I’m certain it is the actions that go on behind those walls. Would I even survive it? Would you?

The sixth episode airs on Hulu on Wednesday, September 08, 2021, and I intend to be watching everything as it unfolds.


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Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.

Introducing “soliloque” via Medium

A space for my thoughts

soliloque logo/cover, created with Canva. ©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

soliloque came to me in a dream — it will be a space for my thoughts; both personal and private. After closing A Cornered Gurl to future submissions, I realized, I too . . . had outgrown the space I created in January of 2017. I dreamed of another — one that would speak to my growth over the years and would also be a space with more vulnerable writing — raw details; whether it be fiction, nonfiction, or through verse.

I am a person who speaks to herself often. I have brief conversations when trying to figure out something or if my creative side kicks in strongly, trust that many brief monologues can be heard if anyone is within earshot. soliloque is a space for me to speak my thoughts aloud — to all of you.

Welcome.

Are you listening? Can you hear me?


soliloque is my new publication on Medium. This space will be more of a therapeutic one for me. If you are a user on Medium, I hope to see you there. Peace and blessings.