He sits a few feet away on the couch. I’m in my comfy chair. Lonely, I reach for my phone.
The next hour goes by. He is lost in the world of the History Channel and me into my little box.
I really want connection.
He probably does too.
But we are tired.
Always so tired.
So instead of asking for the hug I really need, I like photos on Facebook.
Instead of telling him how angry I am about the way a friend treated me, I read the news and feel the hopelessness of it all.
I used to think my cellphone was my friend, helping me stay connected with the people I love.
Now I’m not so sure.
The more hours I stare at its little white screen, the more acutely alone and isolated I feel.
I read a friends post and I know they are sad. I want to put my arms around them and let them cry big tears into my neck. I want to hold them tight, feel the warmth of their skin and let them know they are not alone.
Instead I write, “I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time.” I might add, “<<hugs>>” or “I’ll pray for you.”
These are not the ways humans find comfort and connection. Our words are powerful, but eye contact and touch are infinitely more.
There is never time though. We are all so busy.
It seems nobody wants real comfort anyway. Not really. That’s a version of intimacy very few, myself included, even know how to handle.
Better to text a friend a sad emoticon with, “I love you. I’m sorry. Things will get better.”
Maybe share a quote of inspiration or a funny picture.
Typing the words is easy. Saying them and following through are completely different and require much more.
How many times have I saw a post of a friend whose pet or family member has died and I’ve typed, “sorry for your loss, let me know if there is anything I can do”?
Far too many times to even recount.
How many have taken me up on my vague offer of help?
They aren’t going to do that. To ask for help in our culture is to admit you are weak. Americans are supposed to be strong. Pull yourself up. Push past it. Get over it.
We assume if they don’t turn to us, they have someone. I’m sure their spouse or close family is offering all the support they need. I’m sure they are fine.
We tell ourselves they would ask if they really needed something.
We stay hidden behind our devices, safe from really being there for them.
I’ve been told to keep things in perspective, be grateful for what I have and to just choose happiness.
This week my body is telling me to stop it. I can’t just push it away. I can’t will myself to just be fine. There is no way to reframe the pain I feel in my heart.
Pain is pain.
It’s not competitive. It’s not subjective. It’s not a choice.
What I feel does not have to be explained away or pushed away. I can’t take a pill to make it disappear. I can’t bury it with food or drown it with alcohol. I can’t distract myself away from it with movies, TV or my cellphone.
I’ve tried all of that.
The pain keeps returning and it demands to be felt.
So I’m going to allow myself to slow down again, even though the voices in my head call me “weak,” “pathetic” and “crazy.”
I’m going to be gentle with myself. I’m going to try and be open. I’m going to ask for help.