My husband and I went on vacation to, literally, the other side of the world. We went to Thailand and Cambodia. It was an amazing, breath-taking, beautiful, glorious, memorable trip.
I don't know if you've ever traveled 13 time zones away, but let me assure you that Jet Lag can be a real stinker when you get home. I'm hungry at weird times, not hungry for lunch, feel like I'm running through the ocean when I work out during the day, super tired at 2pm, go to bed around 9, wide awake at 3am. For me, anyway.
My husband, for whatever reason, is having trouble falling asleep all together. His jet lag looks more like: exhausted until bedtime, wide awake until 3 or 4 am. (Which is really closer to the time we would be awake over there.) He's been struggling with it for almost a week, and some anxiety has crept in now (as I am sure anyone who has experienced insomnia can understand. That anxiety element is just horrid.) As we laid in bed last night, and talked about it, he said to me "you know what the worst part about it is? It is really lonely."
When I thought about it, I totally got it. I mean, I am so lonely when he travels, especially the 2 hours after the kids go to bed until I go to sleep. (I usually mask it with some Netflix binging, but it is still there.) That longing for his companionship. His friendship. His knowledge of us doing the same things through out the day and sharing about it at night.
As I thought about it more, I remembered one of the worst things about repeated miscarriages for me. It was the loneliness. The feeling of isolation. Because this tiny little being had left my body. From the time I was pregnant, until the time I miscarried, there was the knowledge of someone with me. The knowledge that the person was no longer within me was lonely.
There's also some kind of weird taboo that comes with miscarriage. Like, we need to tell people about our sorrow in whispered tones, because speaking it too loud makes people uncomfortable. Often, we are convinced it may be better not to talk about it at all, and we are left to face our grief alone.
There was also a loneliness in the birth trauma I experienced after my first birth. People didn't understand, would often diminish my feelings, and I didn't have people to talk to about it. I felt confused. I had a lot of guilt over feeling anything but happy about the birth.
If I am being completely open and vulnerable, it is also lonely to have a child who is more "difficult" than most. It often feels like isolation for fear of talking about said difficulties may result in judgment or loss of friends. There's that feeling of loneliness because most people don't quite understand what it is like to have a truly defiant child. It feels like you are alone in your daily struggles.
I've tried very hard in my life to be open and vulnerable when it comes to my life's struggles. Not because it feels good.( Y'all, it really, really, really does not feel good.) But, to maybe let someone know that THEY are not alone. Someone else is there, has been there, or may be there too!
I've joined groups that talk about the things that I have struggled with that made me feel lonely. I have read blogs and written them. I have cried for lost babies, rejoiced in new births, prayed silently and corporately with friends and strangers who are struggling with things I have struggled with.
Maybe loneliness is one of those things that helps shape us. Maybe it helps change us, pushing us into action. Shapes our empathy. Makes us more sensitive to others.
Maybe there's beauty to be found in the loneliness.
Tracy Abney is a certified birth and bereavement doula serving Huntsville, Madison and other parts of north Alabama.