I remember the first time I felt true, deep, dark, heartbreaking loneliness.
It was when Jane was about two months old. She had acid reflux as a baby, and it was nightmarish. No amount of book reading or advice taking could have prepared me for what those months were like.
I remember sitting up with her in my bedroom, and it was about 2 a.m. Every single night that’s where we were, just the two of us, like bats who never slept. I sat in the center of the bed and rocked her back and forth while she screamed and I cried. No one was there. No one knew.
I always kept the TV on, the Hallmark channel to be exact. They played reruns of I Love Lucy all night long. I also kept all the lights on. Somehow it helped me, that even though I was so alone, and so defeated, at least we weren’t sitting in the dark. I wanted to pretend that someone else was there with me. Sort of. Almost.
I remember holding Jane, helpless to stem the screaming, and watching Lucy dance in a vat of grapes silently. And I thought to myself, “I’m totally alone.” In fact, I said it out loud.
Not alone like sitting on a hiking trail, enjoying the sounds of birds or smelling distant campfires and taking a deep breath. Not alone like a late night with a glass of wine and your favorite book. But alone. All alone deep down in my heart. And no amount of Lucy reruns or lit lamps changed it.
It was a revelation that culminated from years of being alone, capped off by a sick baby and extreme sleep deprivation. And not surprisingly, postpartum depression followed quickly behind.
Thankfully that’s all in the past. I’m happy and healthy now, and very much not alone anymore, but you never forget what being truly alone feels like. And my friends, over time, it will break you.
I’ve read several things written about Robin Williams this week. Some were very sweet. Others startling unsympathetic. One person even wrote,”It was his choice.”
I will never forget that night with Lucy. I will never forget what feeling truly alone was like. And I can promise you, in his last moments on earth, Robin Williams felt utterly and completely alone.
There is nothing worse.
When you read about the last night before the crucifixion, you see Jesus’ utter and total desolating isolation. You also find it in the shortest verse in the entire Bible.
He fully grasped what it meant to be back-breakingly, soul-shredding, bottomless-pit alone.
It can take even the strongest of us to our knees.
I hope for those of you who haven’t experienced depression, you’ll take a step back and realize that it deserves your compassion. And perhaps on that particular topic, if it’s something you don’t know anything about, you should invoke your right to be silent.
And for Robin, wherever you are, I hope you’ve found a big, giant, beautiful, grand, peaceful place where all the lights are on, I Love Lucy makes everyone laugh, and you never cry, or feel alone, ever again.