I’ve come to the conclusion that the worst bit about getting older isn’t wrinkles or grey hair. It isn’t aches and pains and taking longer to do the things we used to do so fast.
The worst bit is losing our families, losing our friends. Even if you don’t see them every day, you know they’re THERE.
With friends, you haven’t just lost someone you enjoyed spending time with, there’s a bit of you gone too. Joint memories are now flying solo. The person you shared your glory days with, who knew you when you were young and dynamic, full of vitality and laughter. Rich in dreams but with empty pockets! The person who reminded you of shit you’d got up to, funny things you’d said, the wrecks you drove and the weirdos you dated! They’re gone and now people don’t know the girl who was anymore.
With a parent, its different. You have lost someone who put a bandaid on your scabby knee. Helped with homework and got it wrong! Cooked dinners you loved and ones you HATED too. Someone who wasn’t just AT home – someone who WAS home.
Losing a parent was something I had dreaded but honestly, I truly didn’t have a clue how it was going to be. I don’t think anyone does. My mum died almost two years ago. She had Alzheimer’s so she wasn’t really here for a good while before that but selfishly, that didn’t really matter. She would have hated it if she knew – God how I hope she didn’t know. I know it was no life for her but well, my mum was still there.
Her funeral didn’t seem real, I had to fly home for it so there was haste, confusion, jet lag, a myriad of people.. it was exhausting. It was a blessing too because somehow, it numbs you. Living abroad gives you a distorted reality. Whilst I’ve grieved, I kind of haven’t too. I’m used to long gaps without seeing people. I guess that’s why it’s taken this long for the reality to start hitting me.
My brother is used to her absence now. He saw her weekly so a regular part of his routine changed. He’s used to it. I’m not saying he hurts less at all, just that he doesn’t think of her as still being here. I keep getting random memories or ideas and then it’s like a punch in the guts. I’ll hear a song or see a book, a place name, an article in the news..
Missing someone is like that stair that isn’t there, you trip over it when you least expect it and boy, does it give you a jolt.
That’s where the internet comes into its greatest use in my opinion. Communication.
Very open and honest communication.
Think about it. You tell your online friends stuff that you’d never dream of telling a close friend over a coffee in Starbucks. The whole process of opening your mouth and saying those thoughts makes us shudder.
Hearing our own painful words with our ears is excruciating so we keep them in. When you chat online, you take that barrier out of the equation.
You listen with your heart.
You speak directly from your heart to someone else’s without the fear of “sounding” silly. It’s very liberating. You really do get to know people in a way that you never can in daily life and I think that’s absolutely bloody wonderful!
There was a line in the film, Crocodile Dundee when they’re talking about therapists. He says “Don’t they have any friends?!” It was meant to be funny but I always found it horribly poignant.
The truth is, we do have friends!
The problem isn’t in them, it’s in ourselves and fear of judgement from others. We hear ourselves speak and judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else ever would.
Look at something you’ve shared with friends online.
Now go and look in the mirror and say the same words out loud. It’s hard isn’t it? Even when it’s just you on your own.
I think chatting with friends online provides greater comfort than a therapist ever could. Any time you’re paying for a service it’s inherently flawed because one person in the equation has a livelihood in the game. In my experience online friends are better for comfort and support. This has a lot to do with opening up to them in a way I couldn’t elsewhere.
Know what the best bit is though? And I speak from experience!
Once you’ve shattered that emotional wall online, it’s gone!
When you meet the same friends in real life, you chat to them in exactly the same way you do online. It’s wonderful!
Who knew twenty odd years ago when everyone thought people chatting online were just looking for sex that something so beautiful and wonderful would actually be the result?!