I picked up a memoir called Lonely at the library the other day. It's good--a bit clinical, but the point it's making is very poignant to me. The author suffered from a long period of isolation, and found herself floundering--not just lonely, but also sick, anxious, and oddly, keeping herself from social interactions the more lonely she felt. Her research into her experience helped her identify how debilitating loneliness can be--and how little anyone talks about it in our culture.
I've told some people I felt depressed after Lucy was born, and I think that was part of it, but reading the memoir made me realize that a lot of what I felt was loneliness. And I think a lot of mothers feel that, too. Suddenly I felt locked in my house, away from my husband all day, too tired for him at night, unable to connect with friends and community in the ways I'd been accustomed. I had entered a period where I'd expected to feel connected--after all, I was a mother--but instead I felt alone.
Things got better, and then they got much better, and now, with two kids, I have the rich, connected life I thought I'd lost nearly four years ago. Surely this isn't the last time I will feel isolated, but knowing I've gotten through it once will hopefully help me to weather it in the future.
But reading the memoir, I keep being struck by this thought: in our society, there is so little that separates each of us from this loneliness. I think the bounds of community are so thin--people spread out over large suburban areas, moving cross-country, losing jobs after years of service, suffering divorces that leave families fragmented, enduring deaths of loved ones that people don't know how to handle--that I feel this urge to share the memoir, that we might all be more aware of how we connect. So that if nothing else, we can name this thing that happens to us, or our family and friends.