You’re not alone, you’re just lonely.

Modern turkeys are too fat to have sex naturally and this post has nothing to do with turkeys or sex. Also, all art belongs to Zoe Si. Check out her Instagram @zoesees because her drawings are delightful.

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I have a question for you. Have you ever been surrounded by people but found yourself feeling so painfully lonely even though you weren’t technically alone?

I have and I’ve been feeling this way for awhile now.

A few weeks ago, while texting one of my friends who was actually my first boyfriend (we still keep in touch which is interesting), I was asked how I’m doing. Instead of lying and saying fine I said that I was stressed, sad, and feeling depressed. Naturally he asked why and I said, “I’m feeling very isolated and lonely.”

“Sarah,” he texted back, “you’re not alone. You have so many friends around you.” I think he thought that I meant I felt alone which I don’t. I feel lonely and the two are very different.

Naturally, I’ve been trying to analyze why I feel the way I do and in the process I came to understand a few things about loneliness that I want to break down.

  1. Loneliness can happen when you’re not alone, but surrounded by friends or family.
  2. Loneliness usually hits hardest when you’re not expecting it like when you’re brushing your teeth, making your morning coffee, or while you’re driving to work.
  3. Loneliness hurts both emotionally and physically. I’ll touch on this later.
  4. People deal with loneliness in their own way and there are different degrees of loneliness.

I want to break down each point from above so go grab a nice cocktail or a hot white mocha from Starbucks and get comfy.

Number 1. You can be surrounded by people and feel lonely and you can be by yourself (you know, alone) and feel content and normal. Just because you’re shoved into a crowd of people and not technically alone doesn’t mean that you can’t feel lonely. Maybe you’re surrounded by people who don’t know or understand you well like people in your past which makes you feel isolated and leaves you wanting something which leads to loneliness.

Number 2. Maybe you felt normal all day but suddenly while brushing your teeth you feel like you’ve been punched in the heart and you feel overwhelmingly…sad. It’s a feeling that you weren’t expecting and that you don’t know how to handle because you don’t know why you’re feeling alone. I’ve learned that loneliness creeps up when my brain is least prepared. It’s like it can sense that my emotional guard went on a coffee run and that it can hop over the fence and get into my head. Maybe this is the worst thing about loneliness; the fact that it can happen at any moment when you’re least expecting it even when you’ve had a normal day.

Number 3. Loneliness is a bitch and it can leave a gaping, throbbing (in a non-sexual way you creep), hole of isolation in its place. I’m talking a crippling pain that makes you cry or makes you want to scream. I’ve had many “episodes” of this type of loneliness (in private because I’m a stone-cold bitch in person). Some were brief little crocodile tears in my car at lunch. Others were full meltdowns that left me bent over in the shower just trying to keep myself from hyperventilating because I felt so alone in a world with 7 billion people.

Loneliness hurts because it’s an emotion and we’re human; I’m human. The emotional pain leaves me exhausted and makes my body hurt without really any reason. Our bodies are all one connected system and it would be stupid to say that emotions can’t cause physical pain.

Number 4. Everyone handles loneliness in their own way because everyone experiences loneliness differently. If you believe in the Myer-Briggs personality test, I’m an INFJ-T. That’s introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging, and the real pain in the ass trait which is turbulent. In summary, I feel emotions in a different way than others and I always have. I’ve always felt emotions in a more magnified field than the people around me and it can create a very big problem for me because sometimes I don’t know how to process what I’m feeling.

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Some people might feel loneliness as a small little nudge at the back of their mind. Others, like me might process it as an elephant sitting on our hearts. Everyone is different. For some, a day of isolation and self care might do the trick and for others they might need to surround themselves with close friends. Some might be able to just ignore it and live their lives (lucky bastards; wish I could do that). 

And others might be able to cure their loneliness by using other people. I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do these last few months and the only thing I’ve received is more loneliness because sometimes the best way to get over someone is not with someone else—at least for this girl.

My point is that loneliness is probably one of the hardest emotions to deal with because it can last for a long time and it can be hard to cure. Sometimes we’re so stuck in our own heads that we can’t break free and feel happy. I’ve gone to bed feeling completely and utterly isolated and defeated, woken up the next morning feeling connected and like I could breathe again, and then felt overwhelmingly lonely again by noon.

I think loneliness takes time and for some it can’t be cured by using someone else. If you thrive on having deep connections with a close number of people, how can you expect to cure your loneliness by creating multiple shallow connections with people who will never know you?

At the end of the day, I truly believe that we only have ourselves. If you’re feeling lonely I want you to really study your reflection in a mirror and realize that you are not alone because you have yourself as a friend. Take solace in that. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that this isn’t a permanent feeling.

With love,

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I’m interested to know how others deal with loneliness. Leave a comment below with your cure-all 🙂

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3 thoughts on “You’re not alone, you’re just lonely.

  1. If only I had a cure-all to share. I wanted to respond, but I’ve been waiting until I thought of a non-crazy way to say how I tend to deal with it. But I haven’t really figured one out, so I’ll say the crazy version and you can judge from there.

    This hits me hard a lot when I’m in the car, or sometimes just at my desk. I won’t even be thinking about anything in particular — no trigger — just suddenly I feel tears before I even realize I’m feeling something, and that’s when the wash of loneliness just hits me all at once. There’s no slow, sneaking feeling to it. Just BAM, suddenly it’s there.

    I spend most of my time alone, and generally deal with the feelings by giving myself time to exist in my own mind. Just think about nothing in particular. Life. Imaginary scenarios. Stories that I make up in my head. Anything to let my imagination run wild. A lot of times I’ll do this while taking late night walks. Sometimes by drawing the things I imagine. Sometimes I’ll just wander around outside until I find a deer or other animal to sit with and they help sharpen my imagination.

    I also (here comes the part you’ll think I’m crazy for) have a habit of personifying aspects of my life. Loneliness. Love. Pride. Sometimes more concrete things like the moon. I’ll think of these things as close friends who know me better than anyone in the outside world ever could. That somehow brings me a lot of comfort knowing that through these things I can get to know and care for myself in a deeper way. Because at the end of the day that’s what’s important to me. Being comfortable inside my own skin and getting to know all of the feelings and aspects that live in there alongside me. It’s understanding all of the other feelings I have, as well as the world itself, that help me feel not so lonely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have an awesome talent, Sarah, for owning emotions, soul searching, reaching out, putting into perspective, and most importantly … being your own person and allowing life’s adventures (and mis-adventures) to be your travel guide into the future.

    OK … back to the issue of loneliness. My take. Loneliness is unavoidable. No one is immune. Loneliness comes in all shades of alone-in-a-crowd, boyfriend/girlfriend breakups, homesickness (huh? but “back home” is just what I wanted to get away from!), loss of loved ones, old age, single living, remote living, on and on.

    My profound statement of the day: “There is no cure-all for loneliness, only temp fixes.”

    Some of us grow up in two-parent families with brothers/sisters. Some of us grow up in a single-parent situation, or as an only child. Three different situations that produce equal amounts of loneliness. Large families sometimes live together but are strangers to each other. Small families might be supportive and loving, others might be too busy to smell the roses. Bottom line … our upbringing has a lot to do with our emotional being, but it’s a fact of life for us all. It’s the old “lemons or lemonade” philosophy.

    Sooo … for the temp fixes …

    The first thing that EXPLODES front and center in my mind is the tragedy of those who innocently accept drugs and/or alcohol as a temp fix. Don’t even start me on that one. NO! DON’T! NOT! BAD! STOP! BEWARE!

    So let’s get more positive. For me, a home-grown, socially challenged introvert, hobbies are a great diversion when there’s not a best friend or confidante in the picture. There’s no lack of potential, constructive hobbies out there. The opposite of constructive, however, in this mode, is addictive. (Here comes that word beware! again.) You are such a talented writer, Sarah, I sense a cornucopia of stories, (see “Bugging Out” by my favorite budding author below) narratives, yarns, (I’m searching my thesaurus now, but you get the point). Other hobby mentionables include books, music (flute is high on the list), art, collections. Besides hobbies, volunteer work is not only rewarding but leads to new friendships as well as new insights. And church. God. Prayer. Being with and around church people is comforting as well as inspiring. Nothing is perfect (except God), so no church is perfect, neither are its people. But give it a chance. Please. 

    One more thing that works for me … I realize that I’m going to be lonely some of the time. I accept that as an unavoidable fact of life. I may shed some tears but I know that’s just how life is. And as I grow older, I grow more resilient. When I grow up I hope I can learn to let it all hang out as well as you seem to have done. You are awesome, Sarah, and I love you!

    B U G G I N G O U T !
    New Species of Butterfly Found!
    Henry Ladymoth, a bugologist, told our reporters that he has found a new species of butterfly. It is called a “breaderfly.” Apparently, the name suits it well. Not like a normal butterfly that has butter on its wings, the breaderfly’s wings are white bread! Henry Ladymoth is currently looking for the wheat breaderfly. The breaderfly is found in the countries of East Yeast and West Starchland.
    Now isn’t that Buggy!
    (Printed without permission from a 2005 edition of The Fictional News)

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