Out of Sight
©2008 Celeste Billhartz
When my computer crashed, I bought a new one. Then, my internet service provider's old modem was defective -- repeatedly kicking me off line -- so I finally got a replacement. Both those incidents might seem annoying, but not worth posting about. I am writing about them because of what I learned from the experience.
See, I had my life on my hard drive. Most of my joy and companionship was with the many daily emails and instant messages with people online and when that connection ended, I was lost. When I got the new computer I had a difficult time finding my way around it, having to re-establish favorite places and create new folders, unable to remember passwords. I stayed lost.
I live alone, have no pets and am not a very social person. I really enjoy my solitude. Still, when I lost my internet connection, my life changed, instantly ... and stayed that way for two weeks. I had to own something I had tucked away: Loneliness.
I shared that awareness with a close friend who lives in Arizona. She has been quietly drowning in her loneliness, too. Her daughter died last year and she is grieving. We both admitted our need for .... something. Finally, we agreed to be each other's support system, our own little 12-step program for growth out of loneliness.
We are going to take the initiative and call friends locally, make plans for lunch and shopping and lots of girl-things. I am not going to depend on the computer for companionship.
I wonder, how many other older women are hidden from society -- by dependence on the easy access of computers -- and simply don't bother to make connections in other ways? I wonder about many who don't have computers -- like my friend -- and are simply out of sight, yet very, very lonely.
"I know," she said, "my mother died of loneliness." My friend is determined not to crumble and whither away, nor expect others to come to her door. We readily acknowledge our responsibility for our own happiness; we just didn't recognize, until this conversation, today, that what ails us is loneliness and the cure is friendship.