When sisters move out, loneliness moves in

When sisters move out, loneliness moves in

Deafening silence creeps into my room like cold creeps into my bones. It’s not sudden, it’s slow and methodical and I notice at strange intervals. Walking into the kitchen for dinner, deciding what to wear to an event my parents are dragging me to, staring at the two empty shelves in my shower. The noise I was so accustomed to disappeared and the silence is threatening to kill me.

Loneliness is a good companion, but no one is as good as my sisters. Loneliness goes everywhere with me; she’s with me when I fall asleep and when I walk into therapy. She’s there whether I’m with people or not. She’s there whether I’m talking to the people she helped replace or not. Loneliness is a loyal friend, she will never leave me alone.

When my sisters moved out, I was happy. I had the house to myself, my clothes were always where I left them, and I could shower whenever I wanted, no waiting for someone else to finish. But now the house is too quiet. My clothes seem boring, my closet much smaller than when I was borrowing from two others. Now, all I do in the shower is stare at the two empty shelves and wish my sisters would answer my text. Loneliness never leaves me, but she doesn’t speak. She doesn’t fill the silence, she doesn’t help decide what we should get for dinner or what I should wear.

My sisters told me they committed to college in person. For me, I had to call them in the car because I was coming home to an empty house. I text them when I need encouragement, but by the time they respond, I’m fine again.
It goes both ways I know. They miss me too, they tell me all the time, but it’s different. They have people, they have new experiences and things to distract themselves. They don’t understand what it feels like to be the one left behind by your sisters. They may get it with friends, but even that’s different, friends aren’t sisters.

Being the one left behind hurts, because you know that they are busy with their friends or living a new life, one that you are not a part of, and that’s why they aren’t responding. Being the one left behind hurts because I know that no matter what they go through they cannot understand what it feels like to be the one playing catchup with them. They don’t get it. I can’t talk to anyone who does, not like I could talk to my sisters.

I can’t explain it to anyone, so I just don’t. It’s too complicated to say that I’m upset because my sisters are happy at college. Because that’s not true. I’m so happy that they are living their lives that it hurts. It hurts because I’m not a part of their happiness, but they are still happy. It’s too complicated to explain because it doesn’t truly cover the extent to which loneliness burns with its coldness.

It’s all too complicated, so I don’t explain. I jokingly threaten my best friend that if she doesn’t call her little sister once a week when we go to college, that I will replace her as the favorite. I joke that being an only child must be terrible because how could they eat dinner alone with their parents every day. I pretend that my sister’s friends understand what it feels like to miss them. But all of it is fake. I am sad because I know that my best friend’s little sister will understand what I’m feeling next year and I wouldn’t ever wish this on someone. I am sad because only children cannot feel the absence of something that was never there. I am sad because my sister’s friends are missing a friend, but I am missing a sister.

No one understands. So I sit and complain to my loyal friend loneliness, and she lends me a jacket for the snow she is causing. The jacket will never be warm enough to replace the warmth I used to know.