Tuesday, April 21, 2009

a big red boy, his favourite sticks and a well loved stretch of Nova Scotia beach

Jake - sigh. We sure do miss you Noodle.
Was poking around in the archives again and came across this perfect photo.

The phone rings. I hesitate before answering. ugh, I think. It takes too much energy to talk to people. Let the machine get it.

A dinner engagement looms, a week away. I plot and scheme, even if part of me wants to go. What to do? Feign an illness? Claim unexpected house guests? How can I get out of this?

Another solitary evening stretches ahead, no social plans. I waver on the prospect, relief mixed with a vague sense of oppression. Can I bear another night of seclusion? Should I call a friend, make a plan? Four times out of five - four nights out of five - the voice of isolation wins: easier to stay in. Lonely, perhaps, but safer, much safer.

We tend to think of isolation as a product of geography and circumstance. The lonely widow, husband gone and children grown: she is isolated. But isolation can also be, and often is, a state of mind, a need for retreat that dictates choices. I fall into it the way you fall into an abyss: a dark, involuntary tumble that gathers momentum., becomes nearly impossible to arrest. I choose to be alone and then, when I've made that choice 10, 15 or 20 times in a row, I find I have no other choice.

from Time Alone - Navigating the line between solitude and isolation
Caroline Knapp - The Merry Recluse (a life in essays)

It does sneak up on you. It was never an intention of mine. How did this happen ? and Can I turn it around ? I wonder often to myself (and to MLou - she's the only one I truly let into this isolated life along with me). It's why I have to move, and it's why I need a new life ... I can't continue on this way.


  1. Change is just on the horizon, hang in there.

  2. Recognizing a problem means you're halfway to solving it. At least that is what my dad used to say. Hang tight.

  3. Hang tough.
    (Just imagine if your blog buddies were just around the corner, knocking on your door, coming to search for Peepers in Peonies.)

    By the way, if I ever have a band, that's what I'm naming it, Peepers Among the Peonies. I'll credit you but since I can't sing a lick you might not want such an honor.

    Have a Tappy Tuesday.

  4. "...a need for retreat". That really sums up the beautiful people I know..I don't know that the retreat thing ever does go away,nor would we want it to (it's the life-line thing - the sanity space!)but I think we come to the stage of wanting more.Answering a whisper that's persitant.An ability to give ourselves permission to let go. I sense change Susan, and if it's one step forward, two steps back, what's wrong with that? The majority of us are only too familiar with that amusing dance.And it is amusing.Because we are human.The applause to the dance lies in the chorus of "Me too!"It's just finding the right audience. The piece of writing you have highlighted in this post is so apt. I for one can relate to it over many differnt times in my life.Much love to you. xxx

  5. Steady as you go, my sweet. Tranquility and joy await.

    Much love and prayers!


  6. Oh Susan, I know those feelings so well. If I didn't have my husband around, I would probably be quite a loner myself. He's gone traveling on business just enough to allow me my alone time.
    Moving closer to your friend MLou sounds like a very good idea. I have been in that abyss you talk about. When I lived in Philadelphia, I had a very good friend who understood and could always help me stop my fall or at least come in with me.
    I will have to look up Caroline Knapp. Isolation runs in my family. My dad had an extreme case of it.
    You are thinking about it and planning for it. That is a very good sign, I think.

  7. p.s.
    I would like to echo the others here and send you much love.

  8. Hey ! much thanks for all the love. I in no way want to sound self pitying and I certainly hope that my post doesn't come across that way. It is the truth, just the facts ... how things are. There is a small part of me who always believes that things "can" & "will" change. Sometimes I can't find her.

    And please do look up Caroline Knapp I'm sure all of her books are available at most libraries. 2 other books of hers that I found very powerful were Drinking: A Love Story (her battle and eventual victory over alcoholism) and Pack of Two (how a little shelter mutt puppy named Lucille helped her to survive her new sober life).

    Oh Oh ! That boss lady and internet embargo police has just walked in. Gotta run. Thanks again !

  9. Don't forget the trail of cookie crumbs. That's how Boss Lady found you last time.

  10. Pam's comment to this post is beautiful.

    I see so many parallels between us on this issue. When I lived on the ranch I would stay out there for up to three weeks at a time and never leave and never see another soul except my family, but there were many opportunities to be more social. I CHOSE to isolate myself.

    The first thing we say to ourselves when that "persistent whisper" shows up is that it is geography and situation that is promoting the isolation, but I submit that even in a relatively remote location actions can be taken to bring one out of the depths. Moving to a new town can certainly provide some new stimulation, but we've got to make sure we change the tendency INSIDE us that makes us stay alone while not even being sure we WANT to stay alone. We can feel just as isolated and alone in a crowded city as anywhere else. I've done that. It's just a part of our nature that I believe we have to resist somewhat because I do think we humans crave and thrive on interaction with others.

    It's like when you keep putting off calling a friend, and you do it for so long that eventually you don't know how to do it or what to say if she answers and so you just never do it and you lose all the good that might have been between the two of you if only you had called.

    Point is, it's so damned hard to break an undesirable personal habit/tendency/trait, but so worth it when we put in the painful effort that brings success. (And of course stepping out of our comfort zone IS painful. Like that awful blind date I wrote about!)

  11. Wow, how completely apropos. I'm sitting here in my chaotic apartment considering how a move to a small, isolated town will actually cure my alone-ness, while big city life has left me more lonely than ever. And wishing that I had more space, less stuff, or both. :)

  12. Dear sweet sweet Susan. You are NOT alone. I so feel for you and understand what you are feeling to some extent. Let's do this together! Let's break free and not be afraid to face change and all the beauty that life has to bring us! **Hugs**

    Love you much! xo

  13. You do not want to end up like the ladies in Grey Gardens. Change is scary but it is necessary. My friend you are going to mourn your old life. It is going to feel uncomfortable but it also going to feel exciting and invigorating. I have total faith in you.


Hey ! We LOVE comments here at 29 Black Street.
Thanks for stopping by.