Writing About Loneliness



Recently I was awoken in the middle of the night by the cries of my younger son. As my husband got there before me, I heard my son cry out, “I want Mooooooommmmy!” I spent the next few minutes attempting to comfort both my son and my husband. Because I know that as much as my husband feels exhausted by the constant demands of our kids, as do I, he also wants to feel needed. It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed at night to comfort someone who just demands someone else.

Well, as is often the case when I’m awake late at night (or early in the morning, rather), I quickly became mired in depressing thoughts. My youngest will be starting kindergarten soon. (ok, in like a year and a half. But, but, that IS soon!) And I got to thinking not only about how lonely I will feel with both kids in school, but also about how despicably bad I am at appreciating the time I have with him right now. Just like I, perhaps, didn’t appreciate enough the time I had with my older son before he started school. We’re currently on vacation so this is hitting me especially hard because in a few short days my husband will be back at work, my older son will be back at school, my younger son will be back part-time to preschool and a few days after that my mom will fly back out of state. Then, there will just be me.

Yes, I have plenty to keep me busy. Yes, I have ways to ensure social interaction: I volunteer at the school, I have my writing groups and book groups, I schedule play dates (for the kids and Mommy). I do, of course, see them in the mornings, afternoons, weekends. But in the the wee hours of the night, when all is dark and quiet, and I’m alone, I realize just how alone I could be. The day I can fill with activity. I can seek out human contact. I can distract myself. But at night? At night it’s just me. And that reminder that it’s really always just me. Circumstances could take away everyone I love in an instant. Or pick them off one at a time. I’m not really sure which is worse.

This all got me thinking about the book, “A Man Called Ove” (watch for spoilers). I’m in the middle of reading it right now. And it hit me. It’s a book about loneliness. (ok, yeah that’s obvious.)

I realized what Ove meant when he thought “it wasn’t ever supposed to be like this”. His parents died, he supported his wife through her dad’s death, but then his child died, and so did his wife. Wasn’t he supposed to be survived by a son, like his parents were? Or a daughter, like his wife’s parents were? How did he keep ending up alone? Why was he always the one left behind? I felt like I wanted to reach into the book and offer to let him adopt me.

And that’s when I had two epiphanies:

I will always find a way to solve my loneliness.

Loneliness is the main theme of nearly all my fiction.


How did I not know that? Shouldn’t an author know what she’s writing? I’m currently taking a break from one novel in which a major plot point is a character losing her family. I’m currently writing a novel about a woman who’s having a hard time connecting because she had lost her family. Years ago I wrote a short story about a woman climbing into a painting to meet up with her recently deceased husband. I also wrote a short story about a man who finally starts to live his life after battling severe anxiety. What does he do in the end? He goes to a park. A social gathering place. In public. Outside. Exposed. Not alone.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks writing. Thanks for always being there to help me figure out this wacky world of emotions. Loneliness, huh? That’s where it’s at. That’s why I can’t sleep at night. That’s what drives me to do what I do during the day. That’s my double-edged sword.


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