Loneliness

Learn to be alone and to like it. There is nothing more freeing and empowering than learning to like your own company — Unknown

During this time of panic, (real and of our own making) I read that there has been a 30% increase in drug dependency since March 2020. There has also been a rise in domestic violence cases. Many issues have been intensified during this pandemic. Most states and countries were locked down for a prolonged period. You were only allowed to leave your home for essential items, and only if you wear a mask. It is suggested to stay 6 ft away from one another (This is the toughest for me). I love hugs. I was never “touchy feely” growing up, but since having my own children, I have embraced physical contact.

There are two types of loneliness. One, being surrounded by several people in a room in the midst of conversation, feeling desperately alone with no connection to anyone. Only sharing cordial smiles while thinking you would rather be alone. It can even happen at home with your family, amidst so much chaos that your head is swirling. Everyone in their own cocoons, happily ignorant to anyone else. Smart phones, computers and social media suck the attention out of the room, leaving a silent void.

The second type of loneliness is isolation. Like being marooned on a desert island. You are left to your thoughts which are louder when you are in solitude. Some people are good at noticing thoughts, others play in to their dark desires. Loneliness is a state of emotion where there is a lack of connection that can rattle you to your core.

Idle hands can lead to desperation. Dating now seems impossible. Meet Mr. or Mrs. Right, just don’t go outside, only use snapshots of fragments of people’s profiles, (of which only 50% at most is factually accurate). No one ever posts, “Shit my pants at the checkout line today, thank god I wore undies.” If you live alone, you can’t go to the local bar. People end up throwing themselves into relationships just to have someone in their life. It doesn’t matter if they catch them talking or dating several other people, or if they caught them in a lie, it’s okay because being with someone is better than being alone.

My lowest and loneliest moment is when I was 23. I had just walked away from a seriously abusive relationship. I will spare some of the details and just share that I know what true loneliness is. I did know that God was walking me through everything, and although I stood alone without fear, I did feel desperate too. I wanted a connection with someone, but I trusted no one. If you feel lonely, and believe in God or a higher power: turn in to it. I trusted that there were people in Heaven watching out for me and guiding me because no one here on earth knew what the hell was going on. Some of it was my fault too.

These days, I have found myself reaching out to people more. I pick up the phone and call my friends, or find myself making commitments on weekends. I also find myself seeking isolation because I am bombarded by a lot of those same commitments that I’ve made. The pace of life is a little slower right now. People are all under the same roof, or alone. There are very real struggles out there. Take the time to be honest with friends or family about where you are at. If you need time by yourself to reset, do it. Explain that you are emotionally flooded, and you can’t keep your mind still, and you need some time. It is too hot here in Arizona to go for a leisurely walk or hike, so getting outside to escape may not work. I am going to go swim laps by myself in the pool. Maybe Fantasize about being on a beautiful tropic island by myself. Let us know what you do. Help us escape.

On the opposite end of that; those of you whom are alone and isolated, reach out. If you don’t have anyone to reach out to, let’s create someone. If you go to church, contact your church, have your church start a peer support group. You can start a support group in any entity that interests you. I joined a 55+ plus female travel group. (I had to be initiated in, 41 here).

It’s okay if higher power isn’t your thing, there are many other ways to deal with loneliness. try following a You tube group for meditation. If you can afford a bike, get outside early in the morning and later in the evening when the sun goes down. The city sometimes has a stolen bike sale and sells bikes for $10.00. Contact your city and see if they have any system in place at this time. Meetup.com can be great for groups of interest. As a therapist, I learn about all kinds of groups. Leave your feelings and comments, and I will try to find a way to help. Let me know if you need resources.

Loneliness touches everyone. Be mindful of those who are experiencing it right now. I promise you; the loneliness will pass eventually, never give up. I personally saw a man with no beliefs, one friend, and no supports be miserable for years. He would go into rage fits after drinking too much and become abusive to me as his therapist. I told him that I would no longer work with him because his behavior, although always inappropriate has now crossed boundaries where I did not feel safe. I told him that he would one day be happy if he held on and quit drinking. One year later, I got a text. He apologized for his behavior, said he had quit drinking. He met someone and couldn’t believe how happy he was. It does not seem possible when we are feeling the weight of loneliness in the moment, but the feeling will pass, making room for a brighter tomorrow.