What do the Lonely do at Christmas?

This is the loneliest Christmas I’ve had in a long time.

It’s not foreign to me of course, having spent a significant number of years in exile from home, first self-imposed and then because the universe willed it for far longer than I preferred. I shrug off the familiarity of it, determined not to sink into the comfort of the loneliness I know.
I clean my place. I watch videos and scroll through countless pictures of the people I love with the people they love, laughing at giddy children and exhausted parents. I watch the food network and get ideas for elaborate meals I want to cook in my new kitchen. I send texts wishing people merry Christmas that are more happy than I feel.
And then I just can’t anymore.
I crawl into bed exhausted, wondering why I so often find myself here; on the brink of something great but standing at the precipice alone.
I miss my grandmother and my aunt, their absences cold, dark, empty places I feel like I can reach into myself and touch. The day passing without the punctuation of talking to them, seeing them, feels so overwhelming that I feel like I’m drowning. I’m torn between being glad I’m alone with this melancholy and wishing I weren’t, all while knowing that everyone I know is preoccupied with their own lives at the moment. So I just surrender to it all. 
Perhaps the last three years lulled me into a false sense of security that the lonely years of my life were over, only to catapult me into more isolation than before. 
What a fucking curse.
I fall asleep, suspended in the purgatory of twilight sleep, my body going through the motions of being asleep, but the constant echo chamber of my anxieties on surround sound in my mind. I jerk awake time and time again, fleeing from something in my subconscious, feeling like I’m suffocating in my waking body. 
I should lean into it, I suppose, the perpetual loneliness that follows me around like a stray. It certainly seems intend on hanging around. Maybe I’ve wasted too much energy fighting the inevitable.  
Later, after traffic and an awful flight, I’m in a cold hotel room, sprawled on my back, tears marching furiously into my hair. It’s quiet and dark and I’m alone, a stranger in my own land. I curl into a tiny ball and make myself stop crying like I used to when I was a child, because this is life and I’ll be fine just like I’ve always been, I tell me. I stop crying but I don’t believe me.

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