on lonely days

There are days when I wake and I know, nearly upon opening my eyes or sometimes as I brush the last remains of dreams from my consciousness, that “Today will be a lonely one.” Not in the sense of being alone, it is rare in Toronto to find myself at any point actually “alone”, but in the sense that there are days, rare enough that I can’t call it chronic but often enough that I recognize the signs, when I have no desire nor willingness to engage with any other persons. On these days, I prefer, in fact I may describe it more as a “need,” to be and to feel lonely. Sometimes it is in the sad way that loneliness is most readily interpreted, but other times it is simply just the feeling of being alone.

When one of these days begins, I sense myself distancing myself from whomever I may be around, as much as I may care for them. I am quiet, unresponsive, and seek out ways or reasons to escape any particularly stimulating situations. On a regular day, I’d describe myself as sociable and eager to surround myself with family and friends; but when a lonely day hits, I’d rather nothing more than to be alone with my thoughts. I limit interactions to their most basic and necessary, opting out of a coffee run, brewing my own instead, and working from home if I am able. When I can do this, the day is easy. I can embrace the loneliness and work it through, considering my feelings from a variety of angles like a problem in a textbook. A certain acceptance comes to me and I can more or less feel at ease with the feeling; I wouldn’t categorize it as a good feeling, nor am I unhappy. These days are simply, just.

It is harder when I recognize I have a lonely day ahead of me but cannot avoid the necessary human interactions of everyday responsibilities. Professionally or socially, commitments that cannot be rearranged are harder to get through. Rather than being able to work with the feelings by myself, I am overwhelmed by having to suppress them and act my “normal”, social self. I don’t think I do a very good job at hiding it though; these days I am sometimes increasingly easy to upset and quietly morose all at once. Sensing others’ confusion, if they have not encountered me on a lonely day, or frustration, if they have, unfortunately for them, only heightens my feeling more and more exhausted. I often apologize to friends for being “out of it” or “in a bad mood” but really I am just suppressed by my inability to express that no, I don’t feel like doing anything but be by myself, and yes, I am feeling overcome with emotions I cannot control.

Bury myself deeply in a book,
A story,
Is all I can see,
On these days.
Taken to a shore or to a dream,
A child’s fantasy or a woman’s challenge,
The lonely days are best spent
In stories’ company.

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