I used to be good at being alone. And when I say good, I mean like really, really good. I would go to school every day and interact with other kids and teachers like I was somewhat normal.
Every once in a while, I would hang out with some of those kids after school, either at my house or theirs, but more often than not, I just went straight home once my mom picked me up from our after school program.
If the weather was nice enough, I would go outside and play on our swing set, sometimes I’d even bring whatever book I was reading with me. I’d play with Pippin who I loved and still love, with all of my heart. I would watch tv or play the sims on the desktop in the office. I was alone but fine with it.
That being said, its not like everything was always easy and I didn’t want a close friend to lean on. I was growing up with a manageable but finicky chronic disease, my parents were in the midst of a long and difficult divorce, my father was a raging alcoholic, and I definitely had some anger issues. But my parents put me in counseling, which helped, and I seemed okay.
I certainly had my moments where I needed someone besides my mother, but I survived, I managed, I was fine.
Then high school happened. Again, I was okay with being somewhat isolated, I had one or two good friends, and that was all I needed.
Jenny* and I had actually met in eighth-grade on accident when we both went to a choir thing at the high school, and she told me she liked my glasses, as we had the same ones. I told her I liked her “I mustache you a question” shirt. And that was that.
Fast forward to freshman year, we met again, not realizing we already had, and became somewhat close friends, although I had no idea what was going on with her. She spent the whole first month of the second semester missing from school and no one, not even her cousin, had any idea where she was. She finally returned after a lengthy stay in the hospital, and from there on out, we were inseparable.
As my own mental health deteriorated, she was always there to lean on. She was the friend that I had dreamed of one day having. Someone I could go to with anything, someone who understood what I was going through and how I felt.
She even helped me talk to my mom for the first time about how I was feeling and helped me get to the right doctor who wrote me a prescription for my first anti-depressant. That was when I stopped being okay with being alone.
Looking back, I now realize how unhealthy of a relationship we had. We could barely make decisions on our own, we needed each other for every little thing that upset us, I felt like I couldn’t function without her help, and as far as I knew, she felt the same way.
So, when she dropped me like I meant nothing to her like I hadn’t pulled her back from the edge and she hadn’t done the same for me, my world shattered. I knew that once we graduated and went our separate ways, we wouldn’t be as close as we once were, but I had accepted that.
I just thought that I had more time and that it would be more of a gradual shift instead of my fingers being crushed in the door she slammed in my face. I was inconsolable for weeks, and even after I somewhat got my shit together, I was still a mess.
I felt like I had no one to turn to, which I was very wrong about (thank you Kayla, Shannon, and Amy). And even though there were some people that I could talk to, I never felt like I could tell them everything in the way that I could with Jenny.
The second half of my senior year of high school was incredibly difficult. But I graduated and numbed myself that summer by working 50-hour weeks, on my feet all day, so that I could come home and be too mentally and physically drained to feel.
I went away to college and I was surrounded by people, making it easier to pretend I wasn’t alone, but things progressively got worse and I had a harder time handling everything, especially with my bitchy, gun-crazy roommate. Winter break was a shit show, I was alone all day with only myself, something I used to be really good at, and it was horrendous.
I went back to school and after a few months, someone I met who I considered to be one of my closest friends on campus, shut me off the same way Jenny did. I needed someone because I couldn’t handle being alone, and he basically told me to grow up and get over it. And then he cut me off completely.
Meanwhile, I had spent the whole semester helping him get through the worst breakup of his entire life, but I guess that meant nothing. That summer was like the last, but this time it was even harder to pretend that I didn’t feel so stranded and alone. My mother and I were at each other’s throats, and everyone, including myself, wanted me to go back to school.
Again, things got worse and worse, I started using people to make me feel wanted. I over-abused tinder and bumble, making stupid decisions with even stupider boys. Thankfully, tinder ended up working out though, because it’s how I met my current boyfriend, who I love so damn much.
When I’m with him, I feel better, I’m less anxious, and even when I am having a bad day, he’s always there for me. I ended up spending much of that winter break spending money on train rides back and forth from Milwaukee to Chicago so that I could see him and not feel so alone.
I was also avoiding the reality that Pippin was dying, and not being at home made it easy to pretend that he was totally fine. Even typing about him now, I’m sobbing btw.
I was changing medications, my blood sugar was a mess, and I was in the middle of changing majors and trying to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life. Biomed crushed my will to live that semester so I finally decided to switch to something else.
And Chris was there. The day after we lost Pippin, he drove all the way down to my house to take me with him, so I didn’t have to sit there alone, dwelling on the fact that I had lost my childhood dog, and watching Inara flip out over losing her brother and best friend. (I’m crying again, oops)
Once again, I had found someone who made it so that I didn’t have to be alone. I can go to Chris with anything and everything, and he’s always there. As much as I love him and love spending time with him though, I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m still not okay with being alone, either physically or mentally.
When I wrote the first draft of this piece, it was the first night of spring break, and knowing we wouldn't be seeing each other for over a week was tearing me apart.
Being around people is fine, being alone is fine too. I know that I need to find a balance between the two because neither one all the time is healthy. Being alone is something that I have to work on every day. Even if it’s just a few hours, it’s a step.
It really does suck though, and I think it's going to take a while. Now please don’t think I’m leaving Chris, I’d kill someone before I’d let that happen. But for both my health and for his, being mentally and physically alone really is something that I need to be comfortable with again.
*name changed, I still hate her but I'm not that horrible of a person