“Sometimes I feel there is a hole inside of me. An emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean.”
I’ve always loved this quote from the movie Practical Magic. Sally (played by Sandra Bullock) says it in a letter to her sister after her husband has just died and she’s left heartbroken. It always seemed beautiful to me, romantic. Over the years, it’s taken on a new meaning, as quotes and certain words often do. Now, the loneliness the quote is talking about is much more evident.
After my breakup with N (name not listed as for anonymity), I was so so lonely. In my head, in my heart. It hurt. It was the second serious breakup I’ve ever had. After he broke up with me, I hurt so bad I told myself I probably wouldn’t ever be in a relationship again. The heartbreak was almost unbearable. Worse, it happened over Christmas break, when the kids I work with were on Christmas vacation, thus leaving me with nothing to do but think about and be surrounded by grief and heartache.
I’m not lonely in the way that I have no friends, because I have added a few great close ones in the past year, but I am lonely in an unnameable way. It’s the kind of lonely that wraps me in a cold embrace, so that instead of sleeping next to a cat or a warm blanket, I’m cuddled by this icy invisible presence. You remember how when you were little and it was cold out, you would rub your hands together to create that warm friction? No matter how hard someone tries to do that for my heart, show me my worth… It’s never enough.
It may sound naive, but until this most recent breakup, I never realized how important touch is. My last relationship was the most affectionate one I’ve had so far. We were always holding hands, cuddling, playing around, kissing, etc. And it was a real comfort to me, and I’m sure to him too. I recently read something on Pinterest (don’t laugh) that said touch is known to release the tension and pressure of those with depression. I knew I had read that before my relationship with N, but now I whole-heartedly believe it.
My own mom and I aren’t huggers. Neither are me and my dad. But my grandma (my mom’s mom) and I were. She gave the best hugs anyone could ever ask for. These warm, tight, fully embracing and enveloping hugs that always seemed to put my broken pieces – inside and out – back together.
Although they were sometimes back-breakingly tight, I loved it. It meant I was home; like she was trying to put me as close to her heart as possible. And maybe that’s why I appreciate touch now more than ever: because I don’t get enough of it and when I do, it reminds me of my grandma and the immense level of love I felt.
Last week while at work (the preschool job), I was rubbing the back of a 2-year-old girl lying on her stomach, trying to fall asleep at nap-time. I could hear the quiet breathing of the other 11 2-year-olds around me, meaning she was the only one still awake. She rolled onto her back. “Shh, close your eyes,” I said. She just smiled, showing those itty bitty teeth, clearly not ready to fall asleep.
So I rubbed her belly. Better than nothing, I thought. I looked up at the clock. I was keeping a close eye on the time, as I was off in a few minutes to head to my second job. Just as I looked up, I felt a little hand brushing my arm, trailing her little fingers up and down just like I had been doing with my hand on her back. I looked down and saw her looking up at me with these clear blue eyes, a soft little smile on her face. I smiled back and she finally closed her eyes.
It was the sweetest moment. So much so that I almost couldn’t believe it was happening. It was a reminder that it doesn’t matter who the hugging or random affection comes from. Age is no concern. No matter how old one is, it will always be significant, especially for anyone dealing with depression. We all want extra love.