a-Lone-ly?

It’s that hallmark time of year again. I’ve never been a fan of a made up holiday which attempts to pressurize people into grand gestures of their undying love for each other. Maybe it’s easy for me to question because I’m single but why does anyone need to be reminded to show their better half how they feel? Surely to God, Allah and Buddha there are 365 days of the year to show that and not just one night.

I am single once again this February 14th so I’ll either be babysitting or at home enjoying the televisual entertainment. I don’t feel any more or less single this week than I do every other week of the year. There are times when I wish I was in a relationship and there are other times when I’m bad company and I don’t even like myself never mind have the capacity to love somebody else.

At 17 I fell madly in love, as a lot of us do. We were in the cinema one evening and in a quiet moment she whispered in my ear that she loved me. Not wanting the first time I said ‘I love you’ to be simply a reflex, I said very little in reply. Instead I waited until we left the cinema and while we were walking home told her I loved her too. Understandably, and despite my attempt at explanation, she wasn’t too pleased at me for leaving her hanging around for my reply!

We were in love with each other and I’ve been in love with a couple of other girls since. For one reason or another none of these relationships worked out in the long-term. I’ve certainly made mistakes and although I’ve never cheated on any girl, I’ve been at fault and ended relationships for the wrong reasons and at the wrong times. That’s not to say I haven’t been left heartbroken myself at other times but such is life.

These past few years have been tough health-wise and they continue to be. This has brought about feelings of intense isolation and plenty of time spent alone. Being alone and being lonely are often used as interchangeable but in my mind they are completely different. I’ve been alone many times but with the love and support of my friends and family around me I haven’t felt lonely. And yet at other times, I’ve been in the company of big groups of people and felt such an intense loneliness as to leave me bereft.

Illness, whether large or small, serious or minor can leave you feeling isolated and alone. My illness is mine and sometimes I’ve felt like I’m dealing with my health on my own. I make the decisions on my treatment, I choose what to tell the medical professionals and which doctor I see. Being alone is not always a bad thing. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone and I feel it is my responsibility to manage my condition. So sometimes not having someone at home means I’m not upsetting anyone by telling them how bad I feel.

However….

At other times I’ve felt incredibly lonely. I would give anything some days to be simply held by my girlfriend. To know without need of words that I have the support of a loved one and that I don’t need to feel lonely any longer. I’m well aware that no perfect couple or relationship exists and there are always issues to be dealt with and obstacles to try to overcome but a good relationship can do just that.

So where do I stand now? Well I’m single so I can feel alone at times when my family and friends aren’t around. Loneliness is another thing altogether. At times I certainly feel jealous of others who are in relationships and wish I could have the same joy. On the days I feel horrible, sick and a little sorry for myself though; I wonder would I have the energy and strength to take someone else’s feelings into account and not selfishly want to be alone and push her away?

Relationships, of any kind, aren’t easy alongside chronic illness. Whether you feel alone, lonely or both is just another part of it. So if you have someone special in your life show them every day and don’t wait for some arbitrary date to do so. One of these days I might be able to put that into practice myself!