I’ve been going to the library again, after a VERY extended break. I was trying to think: when was the last time I went? It was before the shutdowns. Our library was closed for a long time, and then there was a much longer period of required masking when I just didn’t really go to ‘browsing’ places, and then — what? I guess the library just fell out of my routine.

There are so many things that were once a part of my routine, prior to 2020. I was much busier. I was much skinnier. I was addicted to a drug that I was absolutely convinced was the miraculous make-me-a-better-person elixir I’d been searching for all my life.

I got sober from that drug (again) in 2020 and there is just this enormous towering sense of Before and After, with everything kind of mixed together: pandemic stuff, early sobriety stuff, horrible endless world-events stuff.

It doesn’t always feel like I’m in a better place now. In fact it hardly ever feels like that, until I manually refocus my traitorous brain, because sober me is back to crippling social anxiety, isolation, chronic binge eating/weight gain, endless crises of self-confidence, spiraling/intrusive thoughts, and paralyzing general anxiety.

I often have this feeling of being stuck; rotating slowly in place, maybe. Looking at the murk of my past, looking at the question marks of my future, over and over, instead of simply focusing on what’s right in front of my face.

The first day I returned to the library, Dylan was poking around in nonfiction looking for music books and I was in the graphic novel section, doing a sort of quiet internal sigh of pleasure as I flipped through different things. An older gentleman employee came by me on his way to the desk and as he passed, he did something quick and oddly gallant: he placed his hand on his chest and briefly bowed his head at me.

In my mind, it felt like a sweet welcoming gesture, but somehow not just for the library: There are good things everywhere, you just need to be here to see.

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Lord knows I have made some embarrassing confessions on my blog over the years but this might just be the hardest to write about: I don’t have friends.

Well. I don’t have zero friends. I have people I could call or text if I needed to. I have online friends and there is ongoing banter and conversation there. My years-long relationship with my trainer feels like a longstanding friendship, even though technically I pay her to spend time with me.

But a squad? No: I’ve never had a group of friends. I’m not part of group chats. I don’t even know multiple people on an acquaintance basis, much less a “ride or die crew” kind of situation.

In fact, I don’t have a ride or die. I don’t have a bestie. I don’t have a lunch date pal, a walking buddy, an adventurous travel-loving BFF, a comrade in the menopause wars.

Social anxiety is certainly the main reason I have trouble making friends, but this also seems to be a life stage that just isn’t conducive to meeting people. The boys are older now and I’m not ensconced in after-school sports with fellow parents. I work remotely and have for years, my coworkers are great but they exist in the context of Slack messages and Zoom feeds; no one’s going out for happy hour. My volunteering is on hold because of Covid regulations, and with Instacart I don’t even leave the house all that often.

I never did have a lively, thriving social life, but all I can say these days is that my funeral will be depressingly sparse. Minimalist, you might say. Sort of like my side of the wedding party was.

Like I said, this is embarrassing as fuck to talk about, but I recently stumbled onto a Reddit thread that indicates I’m not alone: 1 in 10 Americans don’t have close friends.

So maybe one of you will read this and think, hey, I’m not broken and weird because I don’t have friends like every single other human being on the planet seems to. Other people feel this way too.

Here’s something I find hopeful: both my mom and aunt have made all kinds of wonderful, rewarding friendships throughout their senior years. If I’m half as lucky, there are still plenty of people I have yet to meet and relationships I have yet to experience.

Of course, that probably necessitates being a willing participant in the outside world and not just hissing and retreating under couches at the idea of talking to someone’s actual irl face. At any rate: goals!

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