Those of us who have had to change our lives due to illness, accident or chronic pain know all about being lonely and isolated. During this time when the world is more divided than not, during this social change due to politics as well as being a time when everyone has his or her nosestuck in an iPad or a smart phone, isolation is more common than ever.
We human beings are social creatures and this idea of being alone in our beliefs and literally in our day to day lives is a sad fact. We need the warmth of friendship, fellowship of family and the comradery of others. There is an almost mystical strength that can exist between us when we are an “us” and not an “I.” We call it friendship, love and having an acquaintance. There can also be a warmth that is shared between strangers as we relay a smile or a courtesy with another.
For those of us who lead isolated lives because of the physical loss of function this loneliness can be just as detrimental as any other kind. It is my belief we need the warm of other humans more than ever. Thankfully, many of us are able to have pets and they do offer a clearly mystical attachment that reaches deep within our hearts and lives. The love they offer to us is without guile and of such a pure nature it is always to be trusted. Of course, there are a few independent critters out there, just like many humans who don’t relate well to others but usually animals and humans will return what is shown to them through affection, play and care.
After these many years of writing about chronic pain and illness, I have met some wonderful people who share my pain, loneliness and understanding of life. Health trouble can and usually does affect us in either one way or another such as; sweet or sour, wisdom or bitterness, or anger versus deep joy. There is something about traveling those rocky roads in life that brings about an understanding that cannot be achieved through any other means. I’m not an advocate of suffering but I do see it as a crossroads in life and have seen it change many lives in my experience as a nurse and as the patient.
We humans as well as our critters, don’t usually latch onto change at all well. It’s difficult to be not only isolated but limited by pain or bodily changes. I am fortunate to have a husband who is there for me, especially since he retired. It is kindly and sometimes comical to watch him learn his way around the kitchen. The army taught him how to clean a mess, peel potatoes and a few other things and we manage. I can usually make it down to our kitchen and have occasionally, lately, made a rare trip to the store with his assistance. Unfortunately, most of the shopping falls to him. I miss cooking the most because I am a fabulous cook. Do let me toot my own horn because it is true. I hate clutter and it seems we live with more and more of that every day. Where does it all come from? Surely someone could do something about all the junk mail and catalogues we receive every day.
I miss going out to eat on a regular basis, although occasionally we do grab a foam cushion and make it into a nice restaurant. My first question about a restaurant isn’t about the food, it’s more of a concern of mine to know what kind of seating is available. I do thank the good Lord for the internet when it comes to shopping yet we try to shop locally whenever possible. I find shopping for clothes online the most frustrating of all compromises I have had to make and once I find something comfortable, I stick with it. I don’t go very many places anymore anyway but the old pride of appearance engrained in me by my Mom is still alive and well. I refuse to look as badly as I feel unless it’s a quick and necessary trip to the local Emergency Room.
I am so pleased that through the blessings of my writing I have met so many fine individuals who understand, share and also face grave challenges. There are far more brave people in this world than most of us ever know. I have become strongly convinced it is vitally important not to get involved in the darker side of life whether it’s through reading, movies or the news. We who already fight enormous challenges must stave off depression anyway we can without compromising our principles or ideals.
There is a dark, deep hole of not only depression but one of self-pity which has a slippery edge and an allure when one suffers throughout any part of one’s life or body. Being with others, chatting with others by phone or internet is not as good as in person but we have to face this fact as another compromise. Of course, that means adjustment to another change.
I have come to dislike that word, compromise and often wonder if it will ever stop popping up and disrupting my life. I know the answer; it will not stop. I have found through deep thought, meditation and prayer that the answers usually come for each new problem. I’m not talking about healing but adapting. My illnesses do not get better so I must adjust, adapt, renew and learn. Symptoms can improve and I have streaks of time that are less pain than others. Constant learning seems to be on the agenda for the remainder of my life. I learn from sharing with others and allowing them to share with me. I learn from reading and remembering my numerous life experiences. Life is amazing and most folks delve into so little of it. Many things I love to do or planned to do are now out of the question for me. Do you find that heavy and depressing? Well, it is. I have learned to move along and conquer that nasty new challenge, whatever it is and not dwell on it too long. Occasionally I run across an old blog, article or poem I have written and it reminds me of how I once felt and it is often a good lesson for me. Last week I found an older poem I wrote a few years ago and it gave me the idea for this blog and I would like to close this blog with that poem. It’s about reaching out and sharing, learning and appreciating others as a way of gaining wisdom for ourselves.
MUCH LIKE ME
My shopping cart is littered with ads
Torn and bedraggled
Much like me,
Left behind by harried customers
Much like me.
I push my cart
While pulling my list
From the pocket of my wet jacket
Wishing I was anywhere but here.
I realize no one knows how I feel
No one can see my pain
Nor would they care.
In this world I am an anonymous, older woman
Dressed too warmly
Walking very slowly
Someone to ignore.
As I look around at the microcosm of humanity
Which is nestled here in this retail world
I wonder at the variety I see.
An exhausted young mother pushes a super cart
Loaded with scuffling children
Chocolate milk and sweetened cereal
Frustration and maternal pride
Compete for her emotions
On her fatigued
Flushed pink face.
Two elderly gentlemen
Swap health stories
Each taking his blood pressure
At the machine outside the pharmacy.
In the book section
A studious overweight gent
Gazes over the rim of his glasses
Searching through the new diet paperbacks
Between the covers of a book.
A middle-aged couple
Shop the health food aisle
With its promise to live forever
If only they knew
Which vitamin or herb to take
As they seek the magic bullet.
I’m so tempted to tell them
What to buy, what not to buy
But realize it isn’t my business
Moving into the produce section
I watch a seasoned housewife
Pick among the produce
Seeking only the best
Measuring the importance of her life
One cabbage at a time.
They’re all there,
Old people and young
Newly wedded couples
All at different stages of this experience
This event called LIFE
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
I wish them health
I wish them love
And long life
As I realize
They are making their way through life
As best they can
Much like me.