Always Be On

by Jane Moneypenny

There are some nights, loneliness hits me in waves. Part of it is exhaustion from being on my own and taking care of everyone and myself. What’s it like to be taken care of? Other than my parents when I was growing up, it’s been just me. No guys I’ve dated or hooked up with or even good guy friends have been the “caretaker” type. Not to say they didn’t care, but there was no one ever came in and offered or tried. And yes, maybe it’s partly due to my stubbornness and stance for independence, but even then, looking at these guys, I’m fairly sure they still aren’t the type.

On those nights of quiet loneliness, I take the car and drive. Roll the windows down, put some music on and drive until the wind clears my head. The weather has been perfect as of late: cool and breeze with a nice chill at night. The kind of weather that makes you happy to be alive. The air smells crisp. I throw a smile on my face at events, work and try and  maintain some facade that I’m confident and put together.

“I have got to say, you are ROCKING that hat.”

The waitress at the bar says out of nowhere. I say thanks and laugh. Despite Mr. Alcoholic is there and I haven’t seen him in a more than a month, I’ve shown up without very much thought into the clothes. Jeans, simple black top, flip flops and a cheap Target newscap (just like that commercial!) because I was having a bad hair day. The chemistry is stronger than usual between us, mostly due to jokes that he’s been a jackass. The 4 other people with us notice it right away and whisper among themselves.

The group gets quickly drunk, which leaves me as DD. As I drive them home, I wonder, “When do I get to let go and be taken care of? What’s it like to be driven home? What’s it like to be taken out to dinner?”

People have always told me I’ll make a great mother one day. Growing up a wallflower made me keenly observant of other’s emotions and my environment. A former boss said I’m good at what I do because I have an awareness of what could happen and prepare for it. I put things in motion that others don’t think of and gauge people’s needs that they don’t even realize they have. My brain works rapidly, always assessing, always getting ready for the other shoe to drop.

“You’re too much of a realist, sometimes.”

I am, but I don’t know how else to handle life. Low expectations, less disappointments.

Why am I so bad at looking out for myself? Why can’t I learn to be more self-indulgent? I envy those that are drunk without a care in the world. They get to forget, act however they want with little consequence, and wake up writing it off as a drunken incident. I don’t get that pass.

I’m jaded. Burnt out. Tired. My shoulders feel heavy. And that’s no one’s fault but my own. I don’t know how to say no or not volunteer myself or speak up when I know there’s a better option, even at the cost of myself. Why can’t I treat myself the way I treat others?