Loneliness creeps in like a stalker. At first, I have no idea it is there, but it is. Deep down, it starts to affect me. Then gradually, as each day passes, it becomes bolder. Eventually it shows its face for a moment here and a moment there. I begin to sense a familiarity with it, although I have yet to identify what it is.

Suddenly loneliness envelops me, crushing my very soul. The stalker no longer even pretends to hide. It is in plain view now, not only for me, but also for the whole world to see. Loneliness is the enemy, but I have nothing left to fight with. I accept it. The pain, the heartache, the fears and the tears…until I come to a leary and weary acceptance. Loneliness becomes my tentative friend, the only thing I can wrap around myself.

The friends are long gone. Most of them disappeared during the five years it took to get the first part of my diagnosis. Not a single one came back afterwards. I guess there is no easy way to say, “I’m sorry I called you a hypochondriac for so long.” Hallmark should get on that. The few that currently exist just do not know what to say. I don’t blame them. I try to let them know I don’t need them to say anything special, but it is tough for them. I think it is easier for them to avoid me. At least, that is what most of them do.

I finally started to accept loneliness. I have created my own world, one in which I have almost embraced the solitude. Don’t get me wrong; it is not easy. I have my good days and my bad days; I have horrible days that threaten to bring me to my knees. But overall, once I began to accept that which I could not change, it did start to get easier.

There are moments when I long for normalcy. Although by now, I am so far removed from any sense of it, I have a difficult time even defining it. Maybe that is a good thing. It is almost impossible to spend much time craving that which you cannot remember well enough to define.

In the short term, I fear venturing far from home. My stalker and I know one another too well, and I do not want to run into it surrounded by strangers. Long term, I am not even sure. I guess right now I am not really capable of thinking that far ahead. I know it frightens me to an extent. Okay, it just frightens me, period. I feel I am disadvantaged; this is not a level playing field.

If it sounds like I am feeling sorry for myself, then I am…to an extent. I have to allow myself an occasional period of honesty in order to mentally survive. But once I get it out, I dust it off and move on…at least until the next time I need to let it vent. Truth is necessary. Sometimes it stings, and sometimes it hurts like hell. But I need to accept it in order to keep going.

Loneliness will be with me to some extent always. It will frustrate me and break my heart. Sometimes it will lurk in the shadows; other times it will show its face without abandon. I will allow myself to grieve for what I have lost, as long as I know I will come back stronger and more determined to overcome it.

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