I haven’t been sleeping. Ok, that’s not quite accurate. Once I finally get to sleep, I’ve been sleeping fine. It’s the getting there that seems to be the problem.
It’s not unusual for me. I internalize stress, anxiety, sadness, and a plethora of other uncomfortable emotions in ways that often affect me physically. So I wasn’t surprised, when, after I told her about it, my mom asked me why I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t have a ready answer for her then; I honestly wasn’t sure.
I was more surprised later realizing what the “why” actually is this time around.
I’m lonely. Incredibly, desperately lonely. So much so that I wasn’t admitting it to myself, as if subconsciously I knew that acknowledging the fact might pull me under.
I returned a week ago from 11 glorious days spent with my beloved family. And I miss them so much it’s a tangible hurt sometimes. I know my deep affection for my family is not necessarily “normal” these days, but I’m don’t care one bit. I am incredibly grateful for them and blessed to have them in my life. Whether it’s the cool thing to do or not, my family means the world to me. They are my lifeline.
But they’re not here. Not in Phoenix. They’re in Edwall, Rancho Cucamonga, Medical Lake, Spokane, Palo Alto, San Ramone, Bellingham.
And neither are my (non-biological) people. The friends who have become as family to me? In Seattle, Boulder, Wenatchee, Silverdale, Japan.
Try as I may, true community has been difficult for me to find in Phoenix. Some friends, yes. People I enjoy hanging out with, absolutely. But “my people”? The people that I am comfortable sharing all of my messiness and junk and quirky humor with? The people who get me and know me and love me unconditionally? The people I can ask favors and help from, who let me know that I am needed, who offer themselves without being asked?
I can’t will those kind of relationships into being. And I just can’t quite seem to find them here.
I had anticipated some of this before I made the choice to move back here. I knew I would be giving up the close proximity to my family. I knew it would be difficult at times. I don’t regret that decision, not really. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be right now. Not forever, hopefully, but for now.
It’s just that I don’t know what to do on nights like these.
I don’t want to lie here, unable to fall asleep, but aware of how alone I feel. Because in the silence and the darkness, the weight of loneliness can make it hard to breathe. Instead, I’ve been frantically filling my spare moments with cleaning and organizing and books and movies, waiting until my body takes the choice of staying awake away from my brain, until utter exhaustion takes over.
My sleep issues tend to be cyclical, which on the plus side means this inability to fall asleep probably won’t last indefinitely. And who knows? Maybe one of “my people” is just waiting to be discovered, in a stranger or an already friend.
But for tonight I’m lonely. I’m alone. And I still can’t sleep.