absence of presence

I am very tired today. Not physically; I am soul-tired. My heart hurts, and I feel exhausted at the prospect of human interaction, yet floundering for the impossible need of it.

I do not know if it is the weather, or the time of the month, or that I do have bipolar after all. I can’t tell. I want to sleep … the sort of science fiction sleep, where you close your eyes in one reality and awake in a completely new world and time.

I have no reason to be unhappy in this moment. I am content with my life. I love my husband and my son, and I feel secure and content in their love for me. I enjoy my writing. I have a roof over my head and food in my belly and a healthy, strong young body. I am happy.

But I am also achingly empty for no good reason. I struggle against the apathy of existence. I do not want to walk. I do not want to talk to people. I do not want to interact with people. I want to relax into the silence, close my eyes against the world, and let time slip by unnoticed.

I am awake, and it is pointless.

I write. I draw. I do chores. I bake. These fill the hours, and they fill me. Drop by drop, they level up the well of my being, the usefulness of why I am and the purpose of who I am.

But I feel … I feel like in my desire for solitude, I am harming myself. So I reach out. I contact friends and acquaintances and might-have-beens. I extend invitations and make plans and try to be social.

This is not good.

In person, my aspect takes on a manic quality; attempting to hide my apathy and lack of interest, I become giddy and overwhelming. I giggle and jump and gesture. I look ridiculous, childish. Manic. I walk away feeling foolish. I cannot seem to reign it in. I would rather avoid the situation altogether, but it seems rude to just walk by someone I know.

Sometimes the plans fall through. I am relieved, but also bruised in a way that does not normally occur to me. Normally when plans fall through, it’s like whatever, it happens. We have lives and plans and things to do. Places to go, jobs to work at, family to see. But when this grey shroud of a mood settles on me, the cancellation or rescheduling of plans — no matter how valid the reason — feels like a personal rejection. The bruise is deep and lingering, and I attempt to heal the spreading wound by reaching out to another and another for human connection, for friendship, for empathy.

And again and again, busy lives that I would normally understand ricochet back on me with a painful intensity that amplifies my terrible, frightening need for a connection, any connection.

Strangely, when plans do not fall through, it does not help me. I am bored by who I am, by how I interact. I quickly tire of the necessities of socializing, and begin looking for excuses to leave. I prattle nonstop and hate the sound of my voice. I feel exhausted by my own personality. Kindness from friends morphs into condescending pity through the lens of my self-loathing.  Even in a crowd, or in a laughing conversation, I feel isolated and repugnant.

Things as simple as a wave not returned become a rejection of all that I am, all that I have been. A litany of names and faces lost marches through my mind, a series of the interpersonal not-rejections that nonetheless carry gradations of the grieving sting of rejection and loss.


That childhood best friend who was athletic and cool and pretty, and whose interests took her in a different direction than my bookish nerdy introspection.

James & Allen

Brothers who I loved with the intensity of youth. They were my closest friends, my only friends. Distance and politics ultimately destroyed a friendship that even prison couldn’t sunder.


Compact and red-headed and adventurous, and who taught me to not be afraid of myself, and who disappeared one day without a forwarding address in an attempt to escape a past that wasn’t shameful, but she was ashamed of.


My mom, my friend, my inspiration. My role model and heroine. My ally. The woman who was always in my corner, supporting me 110% … until she wasn’t, because she hung herself to escape her own soul-pain.


Best friend, heartfriend. She knew me like no-one else, and she was the only woman I’ve ever actually had a crush on. And like my mom, she travelled to a place I cannot follow.


Francis who argued, Francis who laughed, Francis who was always up for trying new things. Francis the conservative, Francis the religious, Francis the angry. Eventually the rift of our differences became wider than the bridge of our similarities.


Friend and sister and liar, who exploited a friendship in the name of passion and destroyed a family for the rush of adultery.


Big brother. Protector. Friend.


In times like this, I think the little stings of absence hurt more because, oddly, they recall the real absences in my life. The people that were constant, that I knew I could turn to when the surface relationships with their glittering facades didn’t follow through. When the wave on the front porch was ignored, or the coffee date was cancelled, or the friend request deleted. These little silly slices of rejection that shouldn’t matter, that don’t matter in the normal run of things. That normally would elicit a laugh, or at worst a shrug.

But now, in this low mood, instead such ridiculous rejections hurtle me backward on the timeline to the losses and absences of loved ones beyond my reach, and I find myself more isolated and alone for the attempt at human connection.

I am a fool today, don’t mind me. Exhausted by the introspection of my idiocy.


One thought on “absence of presence

  1. I’m sorry we moved away. I feel that we somewhat contribute to this. I’m happy that we’ve stayed connected if only by words on a screen. I value your friendship. I struggle with similar things. I can relate.

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