Isolation Island

Since the pandemic hit, I feel like I’ve created my own island for myself. Where I feel safe, can open the doors to the ghosts that demand attention and heal the parts of myself I long ago buried.

You see, we are all haunted by something. Some days we don’t think of it at all. Others, it creeps in just before we close our eyes and succumb to sleep – what we’ve ignored sits heavy behind closed eyelids and becomes all we can see.

And maybe that’s why I’ve always had trouble with sleep. Not wanting to shut my eyes because I know what awaits me. Dreams disguised as nightmares. Even on an island, what haunts me will always find its way back to me.

I’ve struggled since yesterday to make sense of this period of regression in my life. What’s it for? Wasn’t I safe?

I can tumble further and further down the rabbit hole, but without clear focus, I’m just tumbling and there is no safety net to catch the inevitable crash to the ground. I can regress, but how much damage am I doing by not acknowledging what’s in front of me?

Over the past 18 months, I’ve taken refuge on an island – not an actual one, but feeling like an island unto myself. I’ve allowed others to visit, but mostly kept to myself and taken solace in the quiet. However, a new realization has bubbled to the forefront of my thoughts.

No one is coming for me because I don’t want to be found.

I’ve slowly backed away from my relationships with others in order to try and control and handle things on my own. I’m not reaching out to people and that is my own doing. I’ve wanted to be alone. Without distraction – just me and a phantom limb permanently rooted to my side.

These are neutral things to recognize about myself – I no longer see it as good or bad. The reality is stark, but I also know this is a temporary remedy. I cannot stay on my isolation island forever. It’s not sustainable and I need more snacks.

So, I’m slowly reaching back out to the people I love and appreciate, seeing if they will reach back and we can connect across the oceans between us.

My therapist reminded me that what I’m experiencing right now – I’ve pulled myself through it. I didn’t regress back to self-destructive behavior. That in itself deserves a pat on the back because it could have been much worse and yet I continue to pull myself out of bed every morning, two feet planted firmly to the ground. The loneliness has settled into my bones, though. Deeper than it’s ever been.

I’m allowed to overstay my welcome on Isolation Island; just like we all are, but the question is: do we want to?

Maybe I’ll have a better answer tomorrow, but for now, I’ll sink deeper into the sand, feel it between my toes and continue to sip my umbrella drink. Cheers to loneliness and finding our way through.

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