It’s the kind of loneliness I never expected I’d feel and I’ve experienced my share of loneliness. I’ll never forget my first night in my dorm room – calling my best friend 10 minutes after she left campus on her way back to our home town was all I could do to stop from sobbing the entire night. Before that moment I always considered myself an independent, strong, outgoing person. That night loneliness enveloped me and pushed me bleary-eyed through the night. It was hard realizing how utterly dependent I was on my friends and family back home. Knowing I could return to them in 10 weeks was the only comfort afforded me in my first quarter of college, without which I probably wouldn’t have survived otherwise.
We met in what I can only describe as the absolute nerdiest class available at our middle school. We first connected because we loved to read, an uncommon and unpopular interest for middle school girls. Within that cloistered environment of nerdiness abound our friendship blossomed, a testament to its authenticity. We wrote what we considered witty dialogue back and forth in our notebooks, we went to the mall and giggled at the “adult” items in the edgy teen store I’m certain was designed for by middle school students. One of our favorite haunts was Barnes and Noble where we’d sit in the aisles and read for hours because it made us feel independent. During PE, we’d frolic in the grass barefoot and make daisy chains. Mostly, we just wanted to have fun and were too oblivious to understand how weird that made us to everyone else.
We survived middle school together. She went to a different high school across town which was hard at first (we talked at least twice a week on the phone) but allowed us to explore our own interests without growing apart. It made the endless hours we spent on the weekends together more special, something we could look forward to at the end of the grueling first weeks of high school.
In my sophomore year of college, my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia. During the initial stages of the diagnoses, loneliness crashed over me in swells of anxiety. Her diagnoses made me stare into a mortal abyss I’d never considered. For the first few days my tears flowed freely and my anger came in fits and starts. There was no one I wanted to turn to but her, I knew she wouldn’t try to comfort me with false hope.
My mom’s cancer is manageable but the effectiveness of treatment options is still unpredictable. I’m now in my junior year of college and the uncertainty of my mom’s diagnoses still makes me feel the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Except now, I don’t have my best friend to turn to. During our second year of college we started drifting apart – she wouldn’t return text messages for weeks and we hardly saw each other over holiday breaks. Over the past summer she didn’t come home from college. Only after reaching out to her family did I learn she would go for weeks, even months without talking to them.
Breaking up is hard. Losing a friend you connected with so deeply is even harder. No one prepares you for the loneliness you feel, no one talks about how deeply it affects you. I miss being able to pick up the phone and talk for hours. I miss making up dance moves in the back of her car on our way home from her soccer games. I miss having someone to turn to when my anxiety about my mom’s future swells so high it overtakes me. People expect lover’s quarrels. You eat a tub of ice cream, watch romcoms bitterly, and you move on. It’s harder when your best friend for the past eight years disappears from your life.
Carley is a college student and aspiring feminist. She watches Food Network and HGTV waay too much for comfort and is perpetually confused by people’s house buying decisions.
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