Despite the Struggle, I Have Found Solace in Solitude

Despite the Struggle, I Have Found Solace in Solitude
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I’ve entered my sixth week of quarantine, and you’ll be happy to know that I haven’t gone completely insane (yet). Then again, I wouldn’t know, as I don’t have anyone to bounce my feelings off, except myself. Which I do a lot. On second thought, maybe I am insane.

We are, as you might have heard, currently living through the most extraordinary and entirely unparalleled event of our lives, yet I can’t help but feel that there’s not all that much left to say. Call it corona fatigue, call it media overload, call it whatever you want, but to be frank, I’m exhausted.

Granted, if you’re risking your life on the front lines or in a situation that does not permit you to self-isolate, you most likely have an endless supply of anecdotes to share. But if you’re like me and have been deemed vulnerable due to an inconveniently compromised immune system, then the past month has most likely been uneventful.

Like everyone else, I’ve been riding the waves of emotion that come with living through a traumatic event. There have been mental breakdowns, a lot of teary calls home, and many sleepless nights.

There also have been kitchen dance parties, new recipes, wine-infused Zoom chats, slightly embarrassing HIIT classes with my upstairs neighbors, and long, meandering walks around my block taking in the beauty of British springtime.

There’s been an attempt to start meditating properly for the umpteenth time, an effort to finally get into jogging (which lasted about five minutes), and an even more concerted effort to start reading fiction again and not be distracted by my phone. (I’m still working on that one.)

Despite the lack of goings-on outside, a lot has been going on inside. One particularly noteworthy perspective I wanted to share with you, to find a silver lining in the heaviness if nothing else, is the realization that I really am OK on my own.

This might seem like an unremarkable revelation, but it’s an awareness I’ve come to find deep comfort in during these challenging times.

Sure, I’ve traveled by myself, backpacked alone through foreign countries, lived on my own in a flat for a year, and spent what I thought to be a considerable amount of time in my own company. But now I see that during all of that time, I was never truly alone. My aloneness was always interrupted by interactions with strangers, friends, a parent, or colleagues.

So what have I learned in this month of almost total solitude? Well, for one, it is entirely possible to have a party with just yourself. In fact, it’s actually pretty fun. Also, I talk to myself an obscene amount and parent myself like a little kid: “You have to go to bed before midnight tonight, Michelle.” I have a frantic cleaning obsession and bring out the hoover like a mad woman multiple times a day. And, well, I quite like myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I miss people more than anything. I miss my friends. I miss companionship. I miss support groups. I ache for a hug or a night out. Overall, I am pretty sick of myself.

But there are some elements of being alone that I have come to embrace during this period, and perhaps if you’re also spending quarantine by yourself, you’ll find solace in these words.

I love that I have full permission to feel whatever I want, whenever I want, however big or small those emotions may be. I love that I can stay in bed all day or dance around my house like a total mess. I love that I can dress however I want and that I get to make all the rules of what to watch, eat, and listen to. “Alexa, play cheesy ’80s ballads on Spotify.”

I have formed a new relationship with myself over the past month that feels new and exciting. I feel the sort of connection to my space that I imagine a hermit crab feels toward its shell. Comfort, protection, belonging. I feel a sense of pride knowing it is my little corner of the world.

So, despite the difficulty of what the world is facing and the additional fears that come with being extra vulnerable, this time in isolation has at least shown me that I can lean on myself. It has gifted me with the capacity to hold myself, to keep myself company, and to entertain myself. It has taught me that wherever I go, I will always have me, and that’s quite comforting.

With all of that said, thank God for technology!

And I really, really cannot wait to squeeze another human.

All my love.

***

Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

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