Sometimes There Are No Words
Feeling Profoundly Lonely
Have you ever been moving along, not having a problem, and generally happy and content then out of nowhere someone says one thing, and your entire mood changes and everything feels like it falls apart? I haven’t had many of those, but I had one recently.
I went to my parent’s house the weekend before my birthday. I took the entire week off because I wanted to get some projects done at my house and my dad had promised to come down to my place for a few days before my birthday to help me finish up the projects. My brother recently moved back to our hometown and we were cleaning out his house and prepping for a yard sale to help him out. I was happy to take the weekend and help my family out and was looking forward to the week when my dad showed up. He was late getting there because he was helping a friend of his with some of their projects. My dad has been having a hard time recently because we had to put our dog down and the constant business has helped him take his mind off things. I was hoping my long list of projects would help keep him occupied. He started talking about what he had done that day and then he talked about his plans for Saturday. He was going to get some work done while the rest of us were working on the yard sale. Ok, we didn’t need a lot of people there to run the yard sale, so no big deal, but then he started talking about how his friend needed him to help take care of some work on Sunday and Monday, and then he said that he also had a plan for doing some chores on Tuesday.
As he continued to talk my throat just got tighter and tighter. He completely forgot about me and his promise to come to my house and help me. I felt numb as I sat listening to him recount his plans for the upcoming week, and selfishly all I could think was, What about me?
I bit the inside of my front lip and stood up from the metal folding chair I had been occupying and quietly, but begrudgingly said, “So I guess this means that you won’t be coming down to help me with my projects this week like you said.” This caused my dad to stop for a bit, and he looked at me, almost confused. So, he really had forgotten me. He completely forgot he had made a promise to me in favor of helping someone else. I had never felt so secondary in my entire life. In that moment, I truly felt like I did not matter. I don’t matter to my dad. I don’t matter to my brother, who I was currently helping. I don’t matter to my mom who had asked me to drop everything last week to be with my dad when he had to put down our dog and assumed I would drop everything to help with the yard sale. I don’t matter to my sister, who is currently restructuring her life with her husband by going back to school. I didn’t matter to any of them. I am just an easy helping hand when needed.
My disappointment must have registered on my face as I turned and walked across the carport back toward the house to bring more items outside for the sale as dad called after me. “I can come down for a little bit. I mean, how many projects can you have to do?” The complete dismissal of me hurt even more. I felt my grasp on my composure slipping, and I did not want to respond but damn if my mother’s temper doesn’t jump out of me at times.
I didn’t yell but I snapped at him. “I have a lot of projects. I made a list that I hoped you would help me with and a few hours aren’t going to help anything.”
My dad tried to compensate by trying again, “Well, projects like what?”
“Like you helping me put up the shelves in my utility room because I couldn’t do it by myself, like putting in an electrical outlet for my dishwasher, like helping me patch my bathroom wall! I don’t know Dad, a lot of stuff, but don’t worry you made promises to your friend. I get it.” I turned around, unable to even look at him, and went inside. I was hurt. I couldn’t even pinpoint why it hurt so much. He had put others before me before. This wasn’t anything new. Dad often made changes to plans to help me, but this time he had promised. And knowing that he just simply forgot about me broke something in me that I did not comprehend at the time. I had planned for him to come down on Sunday and stay through Wednesday. We were going to get all the projects, or most of them done by Tuesday and then we could have breakfast on my birthday before he had to head home. But now, all that was ruined, and I felt devastatingly alone.
Dad left while I was inside. He needed to eat and sleep because he was feeling nauseous from not eating much earlier during the day. Mom, Erica, Jason, and I continued to clean out the house and put stuff outside for the yard sale, but through the next thirty minutes or so I just kept getting quieter and more upset, but tried to keep it under wraps. My family doesn’t need me getting angry and bothering everyone with my disappointment. Erica and I started carrying some small things from the kitchen to mom on the carport when Jason snarked at me. I stopped with the items in my hand and looked at him. “What is wrong?”
“What is wrong is you snapping at dad and yelling at him for no reason! Do you not understand that that man is hurting right now? He just had to put his dog down, and you have not been here to see what that has done to him.” Well, Jason was wrong about that. I was there when they put Gibbs down. I witnessed my father crying over our dog and cursing the cancer that took him. I was there as we drove to the pet crematorium and saw how angry dad was and how broken. Jason wasn’t there for that nor was anyone else, I did that, but Jason didn’t care or even think about that. No, all he thought about was that I had no right to be angry at dad for doing what he needed to do to cope.
“I didn’t yell and I am sorry if I snapped.”
But my apology wasn’t good enough for Jason, “You don’t need to apologize to me. Apologize to him, and if your projects were that important you would have found a way to have them done already.” My shock just grew as Jason justified that my needs were not even important enough for dad to keep a promise to me; that I wasn’t important enough for dad to waste his time on.
“No, they may not be urgent, but they have been waiting for a while and dad promised to come down this week to help me. Why should I not be upset that he broke his promise?”
Jason got angry as I turned to leave the room. “Don’t walk away when we are talking!” So, he had the right to speak his mind, but it was going to be one of those conversations where whatever I might say isn’t going to matter. Alright, I turned back around and placed the items that I was holding onto the kitchen counter, folded my hands, and faced him once more. “Oh, don’t you dare get an attitude with me, little girl.”
I simply raised my empty hands off the counter a few inches and said, “You told me not to walk away. I am simply putting everything down so that you know that you have my full attention.” I felt Erica tense up behind me completely expecting a knock-down, drag-out fight because that seemed to be what Jason was gearing up for, but I was just sad, tired, and had no fight left in me.
Jason then went into a rant about how I was ungrateful and that I should be more understanding about how dad is trying to cope with the grief. I tried to explain that the reason I asked him down was to get him away from home and to keep him occupied, but Jason didn’t care. All he heard was that I had hurt dad’s feelings and was being insensitive and selfish. As his rant continued, I felt my throat get tighter and tighter once again. I felt the tears welling in my eyes and cursed whatever emotion was coursing through me that was causing the unwanted display of emotion. Jason finally stopped and said, “Why does it matter if he comes down? Why are you so upset.”
I could barely speak as his image became watery and I choked out over my closing throat, “I don’t know Jason, I guess it is because I realized that I am going to be alone for my birthday again and it hurts.” This didn’t stop him for one second.
“Ok, well I have been there. Erica has been there. Being in the military we have both been alone for a lot of big things so why are you reacting like this?” I couldn’t begin to explain why I had latched on to my birthday, and honestly, it felt like a cop-out to what was really driving my emotions. I was crying now against my will and I couldn’t stop it. I hated crying, I hated that he had pushed me to the point where the tears just poured out and I had no words to explain the hurt.
“I know you both have, and I don’t know why.” I couldn’t be here anymore and I didn’t want to be so I picked up the items I had put down and walked outside. Mom was pricing things on the carport and looked up as I came outside.
Seeing me crying, which is an almost non-existent event surprised her. “What happened? What is wrong?”
I placed the items down on one of the tables and told her nothing happened and everything was fine. I walked out of the carport into the driveway and took some deep breaths willing myself to stop crying and trying to figure out what I was actually feeling. Mom went inside, and Erica informed me later that she had come inside and asked what they had said to me and that they needed to not gang up on me, but both she and Jason told mom that they didn’t know what was wrong with me and that I had said I was sad I was going to be alone on my birthday.
We didn’t talk much for the rest of the night and when Erica’s husband James got to the house we all just pitched in and finished clearing the house. I stayed quiet throughout and just worked. I didn’t want to talk anymore. I just wanted to do what I had promised to do and leave. When we finished I stayed at Erica and James’s house and as they prepared for bed I just curled up into a ball under the comforter in the spare room and cried silently. I needed to cry but could not understand why I was so upset. Why was I hurt? Why did I need to cry? I have had to deal with plans changing for years and it had never affected me like this, so why was I so hurt?
I woke up early the next morning and went back to Jason’s to help get the yard sale started. Dad was there and came over to talk to me at my car. He said that he was going to rearrange his plans and that mom had told him that something went down after he left and he was going to make coming down a priority. This just devastated me more. I apologized for snapping and said I should not have done that and told him not to change his plans because there was no point and he couldn’t possibly help me with what I needed to get done by spending 5 hours on the road to my house and back on two separate days to only be there to help me for maybe three hours total and that it was just a useless waste of time. He didn’t want to hear it and said that he was going to make it work. I asked him not to because at this point I felt more like a burden and an obligation he was compelled to take care of rather than someone he wanted to help.
Dad left the yard sale to go help his friend and at that point I just disengaged. I was emotionally done. I did not want to be there anymore and honestly, I felt like no one else wanted me there either. Mom, Jason, Erica, Justin, and I worked the yard sale but I barely said a word to anyone. I really just wanted to go home. At around 2 pm we shut the yard sale down, I packed up my stuff and headed for home. Dad called me while I was on the way home to tell me that he would have to come down on Monday afternoon after helping Jeff and that he was going to stay through Wednesday to get my projects done and that he was going to take me to lunch for my birthday. When he said this my throat closed again and I couldn’t deal with it. Did he have to be reminded that it was my birthday? Did he plan to be there because I had broken down? I asked him not to come but he insisted. I didn’t talk for a few seconds and he asked if I was mad at him. I told him I was and that there was no point to him coming and there was no need for him to come, but he said that I was still his little girl and he felt there was a need. He then said that unless I forbid him from coming he was going to be down. I couldn’t articulate words anymore at that point and just said goodbye and hung up the phone.
Tears poured from my eyes. I can’t remember the last time I cried before yesterday and almost felt like I needed to pull off the road to get it all out, but I kept driving. As I got closer to home I almost felt like I willed myself into being sick. I started to feel nauseous and my stomach was cramping. I barely made it home before I was doubled over in pain. I laid down and slept for an hour, but woke up with a fever and chills. I texted my dad and told him that I had a fever and that I was going to the doctor tomorrow, but told him not to come down because I did not want to get him sick. His one-word responses did nothing to make me feel better or believe that he would not come.
I spoke to Erica on the phone and she was insistent that I was not eating enough fats because of my current diet and that I would feel better if I ate some peanut butter. After assuring her that it was not that she became skeptical about why I was so upset. She told me that James had even commented that I was off and he thought something was wrong with me. At that point I just let it all go.
“It is not about being alone on my birthday. It is about just being alone. I am profoundly lonely. I know you are used to it because James was in the military and you have had to learn to be ok with being alone, Jason is the same way, but neither of you should be. But it is more than that. At least the two of you have your own families. You have James there and you know he is going to always be there for you. Jason has his kids so neither of you is really alone. I don’t have anyone. I am not married. I don’t have kids, and I feel like an afterthought to everyone. I try to go out of my way to do things for others, but no one does the same for me. I have never had anyone do anything special for my birthday. I mean even last year when you, mom, dad, and James came down for my birthday and brought the chicken salad from the restaurant we like mom brought the wrong kind. She brought the kind James, dad, she, and Jason like and didn’t even think to ask what kind of chicken salad I like. She didn’t even care that I didn’t eat anything because her main concern was that I take the chicken salad to Jason’s when I went to visit the following day.”
Erica didn’t say anything as I let it all pour out. “I am lonely and tired. Erica, I don’t have anyone, and every time anyone tries to do something now it makes me feel like an obligation rather than they are doing it because they truly care. And I just want to be left alone because at least then I don’t feel like I am bothering anyone.” I finally stopped at this because once again tears were flowing and my throat hurt.
I waited, but all she said was, “Do you want to be alone now?” Oh, that just hurt so much more.
I shook my head, “I love you, Erica. I will talk to you later.” I hung up and once more just curled into a ball and let the tears come, but I couldn’t cry for long. It is like my body refused to let me cry all the emotion out. It felt like as much as I wanted to cry, I couldn’t because that was weakness.
My fever broke on Monday night, but I didn’t want to tell my dad because I knew he would try and come down. I just wanted to be by myself. I was emotionally done. I realized that I have felt like a burden or an afterthought to my family for a long time. And because of that, all I wanted on my birthday was to be left alone. I didn’t want to spend time with them. I didn’t want flowers, but of course, mom sent flowers anyway. I just wanted them to do what they always seem to do, and forget me. I went grocery shopping and bought scallops to cook for my birthday and a slice of yellow cake with chocolate frosting because no one else would do it. I know I am sad.
I had to tell my mom I was feeling better when she texted on Tuesday, so of course, dad found out that I felt better and came down for a grand total of four hours to “help.” But all he ended up doing was getting three shelves up and helping me pick up some stuff in his truck that wouldn’t fit in my car. It was something and I was grateful, but I was just not in the right frame of mind to have him there. He wanted to take me to lunch, but I had been working outside, so I was hot and sweaty and didn’t want to go out. Plus, with me being on a diet it isn’t like I could eat anything he would want to eat, so he ended up just going home before it got too late.
I know I sound ungrateful, but when someone says NO, damn it, listen to them and stay away! People don’t say no as a way of saying, “try harder.” They say no because you have hurt them so much that ‘no’ is the only word they can use.
I still feel profoundly lonely.
My heart aches, and I am constantly having to stop myself from crying as I feel that no one really cares. Does being there for everyone else mean that no one is there for you? Am I responsible for others not seeming to even care that I am hurting? It has been almost two weeks and usually, I can shake the sadness by this point, but for some reason, this time it has a stranglehold on me and I haven’t been able to feel content ever since.
About the author
I have been writing and telling stories to my friends since elementary school, but never had the courage to carry those stories forward. So, I am here to finally prove to myself that I am a writer and the stories I have are worth sharing.