As a society, we’ve become more and more lonely. You can google it, and I have.
Apparently I’m not alone.
It’s not hard to understand really.
In my case, kids have recently launched, work takes up a lot of my time, and I have friends who are all paired up and living their own busy lives.
I talk to a lot of people, I have plenty of hobbies and interests. I’m not isolated, and I haven’t given up.
But I’ve got this loneliness thing going on and once it happens it’s like some curse or cancer. It festers and grows and you can ignore it and pretend it hasn’t got you by the horns, but it’s right there, lurking.
The really frustrating thing is that once you know you’re lonely, it’s a hard thing to escape. It’s like some default state of being and you can chase it away but it keeps coming back.
I can do things and see people and fill my days with activities. Then it’s Sunday or Friday night and I’m banging around with the walls closing in.
Feeling lonely is a strange phenomenon because it doesn’t always relate to whether or not you’re with people. Or whether or not you like being alone.
I’ve had plenty of time flying solo where never for a minute did I feel lonely. I like being alone. I like it a lot.
I’ve also been mid-conversation with another person and felt utterly alone and lonely. Though it usually is a little better when people are around.
It isn’t just being lonely that’s upsetting. There’s real shame in admitting you’re lonely. It’s a bit of a leper thing. Because vital, interesting and compelling people aren’t lonely.
It’s an unattractive quality. No, really. Deep down you feel a little losery.
Not for being alone. Being alone is noble. But feeling lonely is sort of sad and losery.
I can only imagine it’s like advertising that you’re a giant black hole of neediness.
Also, loneliness is contagious. You can google that too.
No one is drawn to someone who is lonely. Maybe it’s poetic, but it also conjures up a certain desperation.
Well, I’m here to tell you, I may be desperate, but I’m not desperate.
I’m needy-ish, but also totally committed to being strong and independent. It’s in my bones to just take care of myself. Unless you want to take care of me too. That’d be nice. 😉 And people do take care of me. I’m grateful and aware of the nice things people do for me. I’m lucky.
I open myself up to friends and I issue invitations. Mostly I find that people would love to, but they’re busy or whatever. But I always ask the people I like to do things. It feels natural.
I totally get it when folks can’t, or don’t want to. Especially when I was raising kids, there wasn’t much time for anything else. Or even the desire. I was with my kids. And it was a lot.
I’m also not always eager myself to engage or do something. I’m often tired. I like staying home.
I just wish I weren’t lonely.
I know I’m not always going to feel this way. I mean I haven’t always felt this way, so I mostly assume it isn’t permanent.
I’ve wondered if the only way out is to hook up with either one good friend, or a love interest.
I’ve wondered if dating really is about getting out of this loneliness conundrum. If so, it has backfired completely. Dating is like shining a spotlight on lonely. It just sharpens the knife, and self-injury isn’t a good thing. I wish it weren’t true about dating, but that’s what it’s become for me. No matter how much I adjust my attitude, dating is harmful to my mental health.
I’m pretty sure that lonely is why we pair up though.
At this point in my life I’m not in love with the idea of being in love.
But I am pretty infatuated with the concept of companionship.
I don’t want a one off. I want a person I can tell stuff to every day, ten times a day if I feel like it. I got lots to say some days. Other days I’m pretty quiet.
I want someone to plant a garden with. Then I want to sit back and watch it grow.
I want to cook for two. Or three. Or more.
I want to run someone else’s errand.
Just one person. The same person. The same, same person enough that there’s a connection. An undeniable thread.
I want to know what that same person is thinking about. And I want the comfort of not having to think about what they’re thinking about. Because they’re off somewhere doing their thing, and we have a thread so it’s okay.
Whether it’s a friend or a lover isn’t really that material. It’s more about regular communication with the same person.
Instead, right now, I’ve got people. I’ve got people coming outa my ears and I love them all.
Some people have no one.
So, I’m lucky to have people.
I want to go a little deeper though. At the end of the day, I want more.
I’m going to hear bagpipes and watch some Irish Dancers tomorrow. I invited several friends but everyone is busy or not interested. It wouldn’t make any difference if I went with a friend. I’ll enjoy it just fine alone…for a little bit.
I might even enjoy it more. When you’re alone you can stand where you want for as long as you want. There’s perks.
I’ll leave when I want to and come home and garden for as long as I feel like it. Then I’ll stop.
The sun will make me happy, and I’ll be grateful.
Chances are, at some point, sooner or later, I’ll be hit with a giant Tsunsmi of lonely and angst. I might cry, I might feel frustrated, I might write or play music. I might wish I could just keep doing shit without the effin creeping loneliness returning. It can really grate on my nerves.
I might wish I had a good volunteering gig, because plenty of other people could use some help.
I might google “Can you get hypnotized so you don’t feel lonely?”
I might read what others have to say about loneliness.
I might try to reframe loneliness as solitude. Solitude’s a good thing.
I might rage against it, or love myself for being human.
I’ll definitely hug my dogs and marvel at my ability to give all these misfit creatures love and a good life.
I’ll go to work Monday and feel blessed by the people who invite me into their lives, who let me love and serve and give of myself.
On a bad day I will panic, and worry that the loneliness will never go away. I will worry that it could actually get worse.
I will think that I could probably solve lonely a lot faster if I had more time and energy to invest in things besides work.
I will have to remind myself that it takes time. When life shifts you can’t rush the process. You need to sleep and rest and let it all be. You need to have some faith.
I know that even at this pace, things will shift and I probably am not going to die of loneliness, isolated from all the world. Sigh.
I just have to be a buddha and sit with life as it comes. Make an effort and then let it go.
Because the final thing about loneliness is that life is like sand. You can’t hold on tight. You have to enjoy life as it slips through your fingers.
Happily, there’s a lot of sand in the world.
So I’ll remember to loosen my grip. But I won’t stop scooping up life.
Life’s still too good not to scoop up.
And somewhere, there are a few perfect grains of sand.