Comfort and Loneliness in the face of Chaos and Candlelight


I’ve been so full of chaos and candlelight these last few days – I think most folks call it not being able to get out of your own way.  Intense.

I recently read an article on about ‘moderators and abstainers’.  Well, I think I’m an abstainer.  I used to smoke a pack of Marlboro Reds a day – gave up cold turkey around eight years ago.  I’ll occasionally stand next to a smoker and breathe deeply – but haven’t touched tobacco since.  I have an issue with chocolate – it seems I’m unable to moderate that either – so I’ve stopped eating it.  That’s really interesting and all, I hear you say, but what’s your point?

Point is this – sometimes life is overwhelming.  When life overwhelms me, I cope by abstaining.  I cease to feel or engage with my loved ones.  Not only do I retreat from my external life, I retreat from my internal life as well.  For so long I felt guilty about this.  Felt I should be stronger.  Felt I shouldn’t be such a ‘wuss’ (how the hell do you spell that?).

Then I remember everyone copes in their own way. Some people drink, some people exercise, some hit out at those they love, some seek love and comfort in a stranger, in food, in anonymity, shopping, sleeping, substances.  In the past I’ve sought comfort in almost all of the above.  Yesterday I knew I was seeking comfort.  I broke my chocolate abstinence. I ate with restless abandon.  Like a pre-menstrual tiger I prowled the house looking for comfort.  I knew what I was doing.  I was aware that I was seeking a harbour – a place I could be safe.

Since my injury I’ve spent the bulk of my time at home, alone.  Fortuitously, this is a state of being that I find pleasing.  I am not lonely, I am alone and there is a real difference.  But yesterday I found myself in the uncomfortable and foreign place of loneliness.  For a confirmed introvert this is an unsettling and strange state of affairs.  After three dark chocolate pralines I rang my husband: voicemail.  After 3 pralines and an LCM and a mini Snickers bar I rang my mother out desperation: no answer. After 3 pralines, an LCM, a mini snickers bar and a shot of grappe I sat down and interrogated myself.  What the hell are you looking for?

Kinship.  An understanding.  A knowledge that if I was a tree in a forest and I fell, someone would hear me.

I was raised to be self sufficient.  To not need others. To be proud of your independence.  And I am.  But there is so much comfort to be found in family and friends.  And no shame in admitting and showing that you find them comforting, and that you also take joy in offering them comfort.

So much literature has been coming my way recently about Gratitude.  I use a capital ‘gee’ as I think it deserves it just as much as any boring proper noun, or more so, than things like ‘Apple’ or ‘Commonwealth Bank of Australia’ (bastards).

I sat, and thought on all that I am grateful for.  Piece by piece, thanks by thanks, my voracious appetite melted to sadness, and my sadness moderated into silence.  And then I started cooking dinner, grateful for our home-grown vegetables, for the clean water and for the beautiful saucepans I splurged on in the post-Christmas sales last year.

When all seems hopeless, cook a meal and kiss your children.  If you don’t have children, kiss your cat and thank her for being there.  If you don’t have children or a cat, speak to the sky and thank it for being blue or grey or brilliant orange – or just for not falling in today.


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