9.12.2013

The Quiet Guests

You're exhausted. The back of your throat tastes like blood. You're out of breath. Suddenly you duck behind a corner and peek back to see if it's still following you. And in the moment you breathe a sigh of relief, it returns.

Everyone loses the battle with loneliness, yet we all run. Sex. School. Work. Kids. Marriage. Drugs. God. Art. We all run to something to deal with the banal reality that we are alone.

It hits busy people the hardest. Spend the whole of your day keeping your hands busy, rushing from appointment to appointment, never leaving a moment to let your brain catch up. But the night is patient. She has no plans. And when your head hits the pillow, you're all hers.

I chipped a tooth last week because I grind my teeth. Apparently my mouth endures a civil war while I sleep, North versus south, brother against brother. I, in this particular scenario, am Abraham fucking Lincoln. And my country is in shambles.

If you've ever posted something and mashed the refresh key to measure your worth in "Likes," went home with someone you shouldn't have, stayed in a relationship too long, pulled an all-nighter writing, or drank a baby's weight in alcohol, you've tested positive for loneliness. It is a chronic disease to which there is no cure.

It is our natural state; socialization is the exception. And the more we come to expect and normalize the company of others, the deeper and more severe the withdrawal. Is it really worth the effort to try and outrun our shadow? A great poet from my home city once said, "We're all broken toys, and no one is going to love you all the time." And I said, "Fuck that."

The cure must be simple. Acknowledge the problem. Face it squarely. Persevere. Overcome. And as I sit unshowered on my bed listening to The Misfits, I want to preach the cure for loneliness. Reason must have the answer. Logic points the way. Like any good inoculation, a harmless dose of inert loneliness fortifies you against the real thing. Simply look the demon in the eyes, shout "I'm not afraid of you," throw down your sword, and rescue the princess. Fight. Win. Repeat.

Simple.

But it isn't. The loneliness lurks in the quiet spaces and preys on you when your guard is down. It hides behind your eyes, finds you when you are weak. It is relentless. Running isn't your ally; it just makes you weary. Acknowledging a fire doesn't keep it from leveling your home. There is no escape from loneliness. There isn't enough water in the world to keep the flames at bay. Go ahead, employ the ocean. I dare you.

There is no cure. Everyone is lonely, but not everyone needs to be tired. Stop running. It will be rough, like coming off a drug (because it is). And when your withdrawals stop, you'll be left in the same world that drove you to it in the first place. I would tell you it gets better, but I'll be on Facebook mashing the refresh key.

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