I’d be pissed that it’s Thanksgiving morning, but I’m too tired and and defeated to be pissed. I’m foregoing one of my most beloved and gratifying personal traditions this year because I’m simply too depressed and exhausted; I can’t. I’m really sad about it and I’ve gotten another night of terrible, fragmented sleep so basically I’m primed for another solid day of abject misery.
I cry a little and try to talk myself into a run. On the training plan is a 45 minute tempo run with 20 minutes’ faster running. I already have a headache, so that definitely isn’t going to happen. I decide to try for a 40 minute easy run because it’s better than nothing. I take Advil and meditate. I cry some more. My friend says some encouraging words as I head out the door. I barely respond.
I start running, and I don’t really feel anything. I’m mechanical and numb, and I stay that way. I run down the street and into the woods like a robot. Down the trail. Up an incline.
Apropos of nothing, I remember Kevin* on our first date reaching out to take my hand. I’m so struck by the intensity of missing him that I stop dead in my tracks and cry out in pain, both hands to my heart. It feels like someone has stabbed me–I almost expect to see blood. I have the overwhelming urge to crawl deep into the woods and hide. I stand there a moment, struggling not to cry and then I stop my Garmin; I just can’t. I stagger back in the direction I came from feeling so lost, so alone and so hopeless. I keep walking despite my continued impulse to go and hide, despite the ache of my broken heart. I remind myself how strong I am to still be standing at all–but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
I get back and get ready to go to the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for Thanksgiving. I don’t want to go, but I don’t want to sit here either. I’ve been planning to change locations again for a few days but haven’t packed anything–packing takes energy I don’t have. I feel a momentary sense of frustration and anger that everything hurts this much, and I use it to pull out my suitcase and start hurtling clothes into it. I don’t bother with organizing or using packing cubes. I feel sick again and I know I’m not thinking clearly but I keep packing anyway. I have most of my important possessions packed in the space of about fifteen minutes.
I drive to ERUUF in a daze, deep in my loneliness and depression. I pull into the parking lot and sit there a moment with my eyes closed, shoulders caved, feeling lost. Eventually I shuffle toward the fellowship hall, barely able to pick my feet up and move them. I scan the assembled crowd for someone, anyone I know. There is no one, and I’m overwhelmed by the sounds and light and movement. I move into a far corner to a table where nobody is sitting, set down my purse and stand with my back to the wall. I know these are kind people and socializing is the normal thing to do but I’m pinned to the wall by my fear of nothing in particular, too frightened to breathe. I’m meeting two friends. I check my phone. Nothing. I leave my purse and go outside, brace myself against the chill in the air and walk back toward the parking lot. I pace a few times and then go back in, and eventually they join me. I calm down a bit with familiar faces in front of me but I spend the whole meal sick with ingratitude and sadness, grudgingly making small talk, grim with grief.
Eventually we leave and my friends want to walk the trail where Kevin* and I circled for hours on our first date. I don’t tell them, I just go. I’m able to talk to them, but I keep missing him horribly, looking back toward the places that held warm memories of happier times. I walk faster as though I could get away from the pain–it follows me persistently.
Finally we go to the home of my friend where there’s a fireplace. We’ve talked about camping and fire starting, how she struggles to set the fire while I do not. I’m asked to light the fire. Supplied with drier lint and newspaper for kindling, I get to it. It’s the most engrossed I’ve been in anything all day. I build a roaring fire with a whole pile of logs.
Sitting before it I feel a sense of comfort and peace; I imagine that a fire signals some primal part of me that I am safe. We sit and talk and my friends drink wine and rum. We talk about co-housing, child raising, foster parenting and trauma. I drift off periodically into my misery, and whenever I feel lost I put more wood on the fire and hold out my bare feet for warming. It is a small comfort, but I’ll take what I can get.
*Not actually his name