Alone in a Social Space

For me, campfires are social places, and I can’t put my finger on why that is. I suppose that it’s simple: I’ve eaten around them with others, grabbed firewood for others, built fires for others, chatted over them with others, and so on. Maybe that’s the whole reason that I feel lonely right now.

I built this for myself. I stoked it myself. I’m sitting at it alone. I keep thinking of people I could invite over, but it’s not practical today. So I’m quietly enjoying my own fire.

Or maybe I would be enjoying it if I weren’t lonely. I’m somewhere between content and ready to cry, so it’s hard to read.

Last week, I had to make a difficult phone call to a friend of several years. I had been dreading our weekly phone calls for more than a month, and I’d simply endured them in relative silence. She started a relationship a few months ago, and some of the things she’s told me about him make me nervous for her safety. Some of the things I know about her past make me unsure about why she’s in the relationship and whether or not it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism.

So I called her. And we talked about my concerns. And she patiently explained to me that I was wrong and that if I lived closer and got to see them interact with one another, I wouldn’t think what I think.

Ouch.

On top of that, she’s been unreliable since they started dating. We had been watching a K drama together and chatting about the characters and plot- just hanging out like we used to when we lived close to one another. For a while now, every week, she’s told me that she didn’t have time to watch the next one, but that she definitely would get to it before a set date that week, and I believed her, and then we repeated it the next week. I understand that she’s got a lot going on, but I wish she would just tell me that she didn’t have time for it instead of… essentially lying to me every week. I know it’s not intentional, but either way, I still have to choose between believing her at face value and getting hurt every week or not believing her at all and being left with a wistful desire that we could be more honest with each other.

After 4-6 weeks of this, I’ve picked the second option because I can’t afford any more pain over something like this.

I don’t wish her harm, and I’m not angry. She’s an adult and she can do what she wants. Right now, I just have to accept that we’re growing apart. I cried a lot last Saturday and then some on Sunday, but the rest of this week has been peaceful, and I almost feel guilty.

Part of me thinks that I shouldn’t be able to let go of her or that there should be a path forward.

  • We disagree on some key issues, so neither of us is open to the other’s input on significant topics any more.
  • We aren’t able to interact on a casual level because she doesn’t have time for our shared interests any more.
  • This is her first relationship and she’s still in the emotional tidal wave stage, so it’s all she wants to talk about. My thoughts on her relationship aside, we don’t talk about her upcoming grad school program, her job, her friends, or her mental health any more.
  • I miss her complexity and depth. I don’t want to hear that the only thing in her life is some guy. It’s hard to accept that she’s withdrawing from things she’s used to love.

I can’t find a path forward.

It’s hard to lose the vulnerability and depth that we had. It hurts like losing an arm.

But if there’s nothing left, what can I do? Just carry on one day at a time and open up to more people. Who knows what blessings the future holds?

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Somebody That I Used To Know

I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t a particular song playing in my head after I typed that title, so here’s a cover of it that I enjoy.

Dear Pysch Major,

I thought of you again yesterday. One of my current friends was apologizing for having forgotten to tell me there was a scheduling conflict with our regular hang out time. She had been crying over it, actually. It was strange, because it was ok with me. I know her character well enough to take that mistake in stride and keep going. While I was reassuring her, I told her about you.

Do you remember the anime convention that you didn’t attend with me? I scheduled time with you and our mutual friend in January, so that you guys would definitely be free in July. We had gone together the year before and enjoyed our day. Moving 3 hours away from you guys after college was hard, but that’s why I wanted to make time to hang out.

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Photo by Mark Cruz on Unsplash

I drove 3 hours, looking forward to seeing you guys. It’s a long, straight road with nothing to see. I arrived and found our friend. We hugged, laughed, and chatted. I asked her if she had heard from you. She hadn’t, but apparently, you had become harder to reach since you started dating your new boyfriend. So I called you. Do you remember what you said?

You had forgotten. I told you that’s why I tried to set this up so many months in advance! You said you hadn’t put it on your calendar. I asked if you were still coming. You said you had something with your boyfriend. I hoped you would say that you were gonna reschedule with him and hang out with me, like you promised.

You didn’t.

I think I asked one last time if you could come or find a way to make it work. You said no. I tried to pretend I wasn’t hurt, and I hung up. I ended the call and I ended my emotional connection with you. How could I trust you or spend energy caring about you?

You wouldn’t apologize for forgetting our plans. You didn’t even try to reschedule your plans with your boyfriend who lived like 15 minutes away to spend time with your friend who drove 3 hours to see you. You expected me to understand. Well, I understood that I didn’t mean anything to you. I understood that I had been pouring more into the relationship than you had. 

I understood that it was over. 

It still hurts me, you know. Yeah, one of the two of you remembered our plans, and was looking forward to it, and she made room in her life for me. We had a good time, in spite of your choice.

I was just completely blindsided by it. I never suspected for a moment that our relationship dynamic was… unbalanced? Unhealthy? Broken?

I know we’ll never talk again, but when I get past the pain, I miss you. I hope you do well in graduate school and clinicians (or whatever the counseling version of apprenticeship is called). I hope that you grow and bloom and help others to do the same. I hope you laugh and run.

I just wish I could be around to see it.

Take care.
~J

Discarded Dream


This wind sock used to fly outside the tiny apartment that The Flutenist and I shared. We were at the graduate school where we met, and after a few twists and turns, we were married and both studying to be international aid workers. I brought it with us when we moved to the state I’m from.

1,200 miles. 1,900 kilometers. Same country, language, department stores, but light years of difference. I kept it because it was a piece of continuity. 

When we moved into the house owned by my grandparents but being prepared for someone else, I hung it up in the tree outside our window. On the days we had privacy and the days that my grandmother let herself into the house to move things around (why would people married 6 months ago want privacy?), that wind sock fluttered in our tree.

When we moved into my parents’ house, I packed it away with the rest of our things. It wasn’t our home.

When we moved into our tiny blue house where we live now, it went back up in a tree. I braided a cord for it out of yarn and hung it there. It stayed in our tree through the sun, rain, and snow. Through the gusts of wind that beat it against the tree bark. On the good days and the bad ones, it was there.

And now it’s gone. 

I took that picture of it yesterday, before I threw it away. Straight into the bottom of the trash can. With bags of Dora’s poop and our kitchen trash that smelled abysmal. Then out to the curb. This morning, I double checked our trash can before bringing it back inside, and it was empty. Just like that.

My tie to our past, to our lives before they changed forever, is gone. We’re stuck here. It’s real now.

Unexpected Call Back

Yesterday, I heard from one of my friends from high school. And she didn’t hate me. I’m not sure what to do now.

Maybe I should back up. 

I haven’t talked to any of my high school friends in over a decade. During school, I pretended to be someone else. I was even more socially awkward and going through a gangly limbs phase and deep in depression without knowing it yet. Then I hit college and things started to fall apart. I started failing classes. I got my diagnosis. I became suicidal again.

I came home. Slept as much as I could, to avoid being awake (and in pain). Cried. Alternated between anger and sadness (and forced numbness) over the 300+ people (yes- I counted them once) who stopped talking to me once they found out I was suicidal.

Because abandoning someone who thinks that killing herself is the only way to stop her constant agony… Abandoning her is a very helpful thing to do.

Now, I get it. People in the state I was in are not easy to be around. They radiate pain and anger. They are actually incapable of thinking of anyone else because the pain they’re in is so severe that it blocks out everything else. I know why people abandon us.

All that I’m saying is that it made suicide look like the right option, because 300+ people already believed their lives would be better without me in it.

So, to hear from someone who predates this period (but was also directly burned by it) is… Terrifying, I guess. Part of me wants to reach out. Part of me wants to scream, “What do you want?! Leave me alone!” But, despite it all, I am committed to growing as a person, so I need to see her, just to know for certain what it would be like.

Life After Kuno

Readers who have been here for a while will know that my cat, Kuno, and I have had some difficult times since she moved into our new house last fall and that she left to go live with my parents a little while ago. I’m glad to say that it’s been for the best. 


Since moving back to the countryside and returning to life as an indoor/outdoor cat, Kuno’s chronic illness has gone into remission. She got a disease as a kitten; I think the vet said it was feline herpes, but it’s been nearly 8 years since that appointment, so my memory is rusty. It doesn’t affect her day to day, but when she gets stressed, it flares up and she gets respiratory infections. If her stress is alleviated or she adjusts to the change that stressed her out, the infection dissipates, and she recovers. If not…


Kuno was sick from November through June. Constantly. Her coughing spasms would almost knock her over sometimes, as she would lean further and further backwards, trying to clear her sinuses. Her eyes watered. Some days, she just looked tired. I took her to the vet at the beginning of it. I was worried because she had been ill for 14 days or so. They gave us pills and medicated treats to help her recover, but they didnt help. She stayed sick.

The two of us would watch the feral cats from the windows, Kuno’s tail swishing wildly in anger. I hoped that the house was airtight (smellproof), but knew it wasn’t. She could smell the cat colony, see them in her yard, yowl at them, but never interact with them. Never chase them away or claw at their faces. I was happy that she wasn’t spraying the house or defecating in the hallways. I bought her a pheromone diffuser. It helped, but it wasn’t enough.


And so, my cat lives with my parents now. Not with me. But she is the only cat for several acres, the only cat claiming territory. She can feel secure and rest well. And I… I just enjoy and mourn the silent days and empty house. She is doing better. No one is pulling down my curtains, breaking my posessions, or crying and scratching at 3 am. But no one is purring on the couch, coming over to see me, or calling when I enter the room. 

It’s bittersweet, but I will be ok.

Just Like That…

She’s gone.

Kuno is not my cat any more.

I had to send her back to live with my parents, who live in the countryside. She couldn’t stand being trapped in our small house and I couldn’t stand her crying and breaking things. We both reached the end of our wits.
I cried once I knew that I had to let go of her- that she needed to be able to hunt and explore again and I couldn’t give her those things. I cried when I realized that I couldn’t be enough for her. I had tried so very hard to give her everything she needed. There was a darkness I couldn’t breach.


So I let her go. 

We packed the van with all of her (my) cat things and put her in her harness for one last walk in the yard. Then she went into my brother’s arms and they pulled away.


I still feel the dark clouds hanging over me. It happened yesterday, and I didn’t try to write about it at the time. Today, though? So many little moments when she should have been here… Sounds that she always ran to, places she always slept, doorways she always waited by. So many echoes of her floating around my head, as I cry and cry because I couldn’t make my cat happy.

The cat that I rehabilitated from being a terrified feral into an occasionally social cat- I took so many scratches in stride because I knew she was terrified but I needed her to feel safe around people and I was willing to give her time to learn to trust.

The cat who lived with me when I was suicidal- I got up to feed her because I couldn’t let her starve to death, even if I was allowed to die.

The cat who I let live on the shelf in my closet for almost a week because she was so scared of our new home- I truly tried to transition her to our current house well.

The cat who I took on walks in the yard to expand her world… And it worked. She wanted more, needed more than I could give her. She’s been wild before. She will never truly belong in a cage, even one with couches and catnip.

I understand why she needed to be an indoor/outdoor cat again.

So, why do I still feel so awful? 😔