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  • The Archer

Loneliest of All

I like to be prepared. I have a will made just in case one of my subway rides gets dicey. I've been contributing toward my retirement since I was 21. I planned out a tentative vacation schedule for 2023.

Part of my preparation is emotional. After about three years of dating without any significant results (such as jewelry, coffee makers, or dependent tax deductions) I began to emotionally prepare to be alone long term. For me this mostly meant reading about women who had found happiness on their own and how they did it. The answer is almost always choice. Choose to be happy, choose to invest in your own relationship with you and you'll get the best returns.

I try to do this, most recently focusing on having phone free me time to really capitalize on the mindfulness and the hope that eventually, that might lead to joy. In summer 2019 I was owning this and I've never felt as powerful. Emma Watson was the conductor of the self partnered train and I was emotionally prepared to be on that train.

But every single ounce of work disappears the moment my nausea crests above a 2 on the pain scale.

In sickness and in health can perhaps only be truly kept toward yourself but it's also when I want to bail the most.

I get sick the way kindergarteners do: mildly and loudly. I am blessed to not get sick often or severely, so when I do get sick I put the emotional energy into my condition that say, a Civil War hero might have put into having both of their legs cut off before anesthesia was invented. I huddle in various ball like shapes around my apartment. I moan. I Google because I know in my soul that mild nausea, fever, and a cold sore definitely mean something very very bad. I sleep for an outrageous amount of time.

And I have deathbed thoughts.

These include things like: life is short, should I leave everything I know and drive around the country? Will it be a problem that I can only drive an hour at a time without falling asleep? Is it possible to do all the things I want to do with my time left? Does doing anything at all actually matter? I haven't finished a book in two days, am I losing my mind? Where will all the books I've read go if I get Alzheimer's? Are my nephews old enough to remember me if this is the end? Am I going to get fired for being frail and unable to do my job on this one day? How much time do I have before I starve to death?

And mostly:

Why am I alone?

There is no alone quite like the alone of illness. It feels all encompassing and never ending. I want my friends, my family, my mental health team on the phone or in the room so that I can moan directly at them but then I remember that that's ridiculous considering Global Panini and I have a tummy ache. So then the spiraling begins: if I had someone in my life I'd feel better, he'd be taking care of me, I would have a real bathtub etc.

I can't spend all day on the phone with my mom or my friends and TV has become highbrow-a fact that I appreciate when I am downing episode after episode of Succession but when I am in the brain fog of a fever, I miss the days of Hannah Montana. Luckily it's streaming on Disney +. But eventually I can't look at a screen any longer and I go back to the loneliness.

There is something about not feeling good that isolates your brain. What I mean is that I've worked on my thought patterns and I try to think around my sadness and know that I will eventually be above the trees. But when ill my brain forgets everything I've learned and seems to boil itself in its own negativity.

We're all getting sick right now. This might be the way it is for a very long time. Those of us who are alone can't think around it because we're already trapped thinking around something and adding fever to the equation only makes it worse.

But there is one thing. The high after an illness when you wake up and sit up and don't immediately ache everywhere is an excellent way to hit restart. And yes, I feel like I am always hitting restart but at least there is a restart to hit. I'll restart again after my sickbed commitments to never work again, realizing that I love to work. I'll restart with confidence in my decisions instead of the fever driven anxiety that I need to back out of everything. And I'll restart with the false hope of someone who thinks that this time the antibodies definitely work.

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