Sunday, July 16, 2017

     I have been asked to write a blog on “loneliness.” Have you ever been lonely? I think that was a song, so someone out there must have felt it. Lonely doesn’t necessarily mean “alone.” 

     I remember many times when I felt “lonely” when a loved one was lying next to me in my bed, when my family was laughing all around me, when I traveled alone and didn’t know a soul. “Lonely” usually implies that you miss something or someone. It could be one or more persons in particular, or just someone. It could mean you miss something in your life. This
could be anything from your identity you lost when you moved or your old couch that used to welcome your weary body after a long day at work.

      So what do we do about “lonely?” I am sure therapists would have many replies to this question, but for me, I learned more than one strategy for my loneliness after brooding, cursing under my breath or in the shower or crying into my stuffed bear. Not that leaning into the pain of loneliness isn’t one strategy; it is. Others, however, include, reading a good book and distracting the mind. You can befriend as many people as you wish in a good read, and you will forget what made you lonely. You can watch a good movie and put yourself in a different place for short periods of time. You can get physical—go for a bike ride, push yourself through a tough workout which affects the serotonin in your brain and makes you feel better in general, call a good friend or write it out in your journal or on a grocery bag. 

     If you are lonely next to someone you love, there is a problem. Confront it and move on. If you are lonely because you are alone too much, get out of your house and join something that distracts your mind in a way you enjoy. If you are lonely at work, listen to the people around you. If their topics of conversation annoy or depress you, choose “alone;” sometimes “alone” is better. 

      I am rarely lonely anymore. Do I miss special people in my life? Of course. In today’s age of text and type, it’s hard to be lonely for long. Au contraire, sometimes reading their words can make us more lonely, but if that happens, pick up the damned phone.

     Sometimes we confuse “lonely” with “empty.” “Empty” can create the same feelings of isolation, disconnection, loss. “Empty” is a call-to-action for me. This means that whatever is going on in my daily life is not fulfilling my needs. This calls for an emotional inventory that asks,”Exactly what’s going on here? How much energy is being spent to avoid certain feelings that need to be addressed?”

     “Lonely” needs “connection.” If the electronic connection isn’t working for you, then you need more human face to face time. If you are driving on “empty,” look for a new fill-up. 

     if all else fails, I get on my knees. That always works eventually.