I wish I could take a picture of loneliness so vivid that others would understand loneliness just by looking at it. I have lived alone for 3 ½ years now although Ray died 2 years and three months ago. He was in hospital and in a nursing home from June 2011 till September 2012. I do cope well during the day but the nights are still very lonely. I hate sleeping alone. I have always loved that there was a living breathing human being close by. I had always shared a room with my sister so perhaps that was where this all came from. I was not used to being on my own.
She had mostly been there, she did marry three months before me so I had had three months of being on my own but that was different as I was engaged to be married and so I was looking forward to a life shared. As soon as we were married I slept well again. Then we had our first baby and she shared our room until she was six months old. Two small children later he had a job that required him to be away from home some of the time but I had the children in the house with me so all was well. We lived in that situation for twelve years but then he changed to a 7am – 4pm job and the nights were kind again.
When I retired to look after Ray after the major strokes of course there was an adjustment as suddenly we were together 24 hours a day, something that had never previously occurred in our marriage except during holiday breaks. We settled down to that life but every two years or so he had another stroke and we adjusted our lifestyle again. Then as Ray got sicker I had to give up the double bed and opt for two singles pushed together, I didn't like it but it had to be done due to his incontinence and his jerky left leg that caused him to kick me. Neither condition had a solution so the twin beds were better than the double and at least we were in the same room.
Two years out from Ray's death I started to get interested in life again and as a part of that started to wonder what it would be like if I found a new partner. I say partner although in my denomination we don't believe in sex before marriage and this applies to 67 year olds in the same way it applies to 17 year olds so I knew this was going to have to be thought out pretty carefully. It makes a big difference about how you go about courtship as well as how you select a new partner. And provides only a narrow selection of possible partners.
I have agonised over this for the past three months since I realised that I would like a new person in my life with a view to marriage. I had a discussion with my son-in-law tonight about why I was thinking of getting a new person in my life. It happened suddenly and caught me by surprise. I wouldn't have thought it would be something discussed at the kitchen sink while we did the dishes. I had mentioned to my daughter that I would be looking for a companion, someone to share my life with but maybe they didn't understand what I said and why I said it.
He said that he thought I was going to live my own life, make new plans, maybe move house, maybe do some courses. I said I had to take into consideration all of those things but didn't think I wanted to live alone for the next twenty years. I had some plans that could include a partner and some I wanted to do alone. The discussion turned to my religious affiliation and some harsh words were spoken. I understand that this was a shock to him. Maybe he thought I would be happy to spend the next twenty years alone.
I love my family and look forward to their visits. I ring them or they ring me once a week. I look forward to that. The interaction between myself and the grandchildren is something special and I value that very much. I would hate to think that anything I did would come between me and them. And yet I know that the once a week phone call, twice a year visit will do very little to get rid of that loneliness I feel every night of my present life. It settles on me sometimes and I don't sleep. I don't think I am depressed although that may be the case. I think I am just lonely. And to my mind loneliness is akin to depression.
So what to do? Keep praying, that is obvious, keep seeking a companion with a view to marriage? Maybe not at the moment given the circumstances. I don't know what the future holds, none of us do. But I know I need to do something before I end up going to the doctor and asking for antidepressants and/or sleeping tablets.