Down at the End of Lonely Street

Loneliness

“Write about something that scares you.”

A friend gave me this advice recently, advice from a writer intended to help me to develop my own writing and to push myself into new places. Hmmm, there might be one slight problem with that: what the hell could I be scared to write about?

Since beginning my blog 6 months ago I’ve written candidly about my depression, feeling suicidal, death, sexting, my children living with another man, close encounters with sex people…. Hell, I’ve even written about being pursued by camaltoe. Move over Stephen King.

I’ve racked my brains for ideas: sitting alone in my kitchen at the laptop, lying alone in my bed, relaxing alone in my living room, eating alone in the silence of an empty house.

Alone with my thoughts; alone, searching for my fears. Alone.

Alone.

I am living what scares me. I am living my fears. I am living alone.

heartbreak-hotel

OK, that’s not strictly true, my children live with me half of the time; but there is still a sense of loneliness apparent in the role of single parent, where the everyday demands you once faced as a team you now have to face on you own.

I like being on my own. I like my own company and can think of many a worse way to while away the hours than burying my head in a good book, enjoying a cup of tea and watching the world go by. I have spent many an hour doing just that, and would often look forward to and savour such opportunities, those chances to escape from the busyness and repeated demands of everyday life.

But these moments take on a different meaning when they cease to become moments, when they cease to become an escape from everyday life and instead become everyday life. When being alone is no longer a choice that we make, but a fear we must face.

When loneliness makes our acquaintance it can take an almost physical form, of absence coming disguised as a heavy presence that we can feel beside us. A presence reminding us of our solitude, demanding to know why, in a world of 7 billion people, not one of them is with us.

We live in an ever more individualistic age, an age where everything from consumerism to modern spirituality is geared towards self-actualisation, towards claiming what we rightfully deserve, because we’re worth it. Where independence and strength are found in not needing anybody else but in marching to the beat of our own drum, where the rest of the world can accept us as we are, on our own terms. An age where we ain’t changing for nobody mister, where what you see is what you get and if you don’t like it then you know what you can go and do don’t you?

Worth It

In our age of self, here’s what I’m scared to say: I get lonely.

I’d like to think I’ve been reasonably successful in my life; I love my job, I am strong, I am confident. I have close lifelong friends, I have wonderful children, I have a home. I can go anywhere and do anything; I can go where I want to, when I want to, with who I want to. I am comfortable in my own skin, so much so that I will lay myself bare for all to see – and judge – as I seek to better understand myself, in the process hopefully helping others that wish to do the same.

Yet it scares me to admit that I get lonely. That I am lonely.

As my fingers type out the words ‘I am lonely’ my mind seeks justification and prepares the case for the defence. ‘I am not looking for sympathy’, ‘I don’t want you to think that I’m some sort of sadsack’, ‘I’m not sat here crying into my Weetabix’…. (really, I’m not).

Because it is hard to write ‘I am lonely’ without a sense that it translates to ‘I am needy, I am weak’.

I am not. Here’s what I am:

Human.

We all crave connection, it is a core part of the human condition and we are by design pack creatures, social animals. We are products of our environment and our identity is formed in large part through our relations with others. As we journey through life our character is both developed and revealed in the roles that we adopt: son, daughter; brother, sister; friend, enemy; father, mother. Husband, wife.

We are one of the few species that create lifelong partnerships and this expectation of how life should be is threaded through the very fabric of our society. And when your lifelong partnership is terminated and you find you are alone, it is hard not to feel that something, someone, is missing.

I have met some wonderful people since I have been single, and I’m fortunate to live in an age where I have been able to virtually meet many more. We are able to connect and communicate with others more easily than we ever have before. But when the message alerts are quiet, when the notifications stop, the silence rings and reminds me of what I miss.

Someone special. Their smile. Their laugh. Their embrace. The hundreds of little things that add up to the biggest thing – that one person that will always be there for you, no matter what. Someone to laugh with, to make plans with, to dream with and to share your inner self with.  Someone to unlock the parts of you that otherwise lie dormant, to whom you can offer the gifts of your best self.

I don’t need another half – the last time I checked I was pretty whole as I am (more whole than I would like to be in fact, but that’s middle-age for you).  I don’t need anyone to fill a gap inside of me.  I don’t need anyone to help fill my time, and I won’t accept ‘any one’ in an attempt to lock the door to keep loneliness at bay.

Because loneliness hurts, but settling for less than you deserve hurts even more.

If you feel lonely why not comment below? (Just so I don’t feel so alone…).

Soundtrack
The 2 Of Us – Suede

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30 thoughts on “Down at the End of Lonely Street

  1. I guess the grass always seems greener on the other side.

    You have a wonderful way of expressing thoughts and feelings without asking for sympathy or pity. I’m sure by sharing your feelings you’ll reach out to so many.

    Thank you x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and I’m pleased it comes across that way, I never want to appear to be feeling sorry for myself. Shit happens to all of us and whilst not wanting to seen to be wallowing in it, I do think it is important to be able to talk about it without being afraid of how people will judge us.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be hard to admit to feeling lonely when you’re surrounded by great people, but sometimes that reminds you of what you miss.

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    1. It’s even more lonely when you crack the mirror of your car bc of bumping into another car and you’re coming home, still shaken up from what happened and only thing your husband does, is he gets angry at you bc the car is damaged and while he still less or more is shouting at you, you keep thinking, why doesn’t he ask me if I’m okay, how I’m doing…..or you and your partner went to a movie called: sleeping with the enemy, while leaving the movies, you start crying and can’t stop it, even in the car tears keep rolling over your cheeks like crazy, partner wants to know why I.m crying like a fcking lunatic, but I don’t know the reason why myself, still partner drives to a small restaurant as we said we would go to after the movie, while driving for awhile, I managed to surpress the crying, but sitting at a table in the restaurant, it started allover again, than partner said that if I didn’t stop crying that he would leave me at the restaurant to drive home by himself, so I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and while looking in my own eyes, seeing that they were all red and swollen from crying so much, I asked myself: do I have to marry him?? I did and you know what? I discovered that I slept with the enemy for a decade. From the beginning of our relationship the narcissisticus used me in every way possible and abused me mentally, I almost ended up in a mental hospital bc of dearest hubby being a chronic liar and brainwashing me. I am happily divorced for 15 years now and I am still alone bc every man that could’ve been a partner, failed at the very first conversation I had with them bc there always was something that was more important to them than how I feel about certain things like for instance liking to speed while driving and when I said that I would worry about him getting hurt in an accident, he would say that I don’t need to worry, so I decided to let him go bc otherwise I would be worrying all the time having a relationship with him. And if ever I get involved again and the man acts like my former husband, which includes not asking how I’m doing or telling me that he will leave me bc I’m crying while not knowing why I’m crying, and/or tries to put me up with other really nasty behavior, I already know that leaving him is the best choice bc the most lonely feelings I ever felt, was while having a partner that couldn’t care less about how I feel and why I can’t sleep.

      The loneliness you feel when strangers leave you all alone while it would be really nice if someone would help, can never ever be compared with feeling lonely bc of being ignored completely by someone who should be there for you all the way and in any way bc you’ld do the same for them anytime.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks very much for adding your comments, loneliness seems to come in different guises and like you say, sometimes you can feel most alone when you are with somebody. Hope life is treating you well today.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been living alone for about three weeks now, but the silence and stillness have filled my new apartment in a way three kids, a dog, and a husband once filled a five bedroom home. Add in a new city, new state, no job, and one friend (thank God for her), and the loneliness is one I’ve never experienced before; it’s bone deep. I’m an introvert and crave solitude, but this is something entirely different. I’m disconnected from life in a way that I never meant to be and am so tempted to turn tail back to the relationship I chose to leave. Thank you for helping me to feel like less of a loser, coward, and weakling. I keep reminding myself that this will pass, but it’s tempting to grasp onto temporary fixes to get through it. Thus, I also have to thank you for your online dating precautionary tales. So glad to have found your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Lori. So sorry to hear things are tough for you right now but like you say, it will pass. I try to keep my eye on the long term and remind myself that even a few years is a short amount of time in the context of a whole life. And it does have its plus points, which I’ll write about at some point! Look after yourself, thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Lori

      I hope you don’t mind me replying to your reply to Matthew.

      Stay strong lovely and remember why you left in the first place. I walked out on a relationship just over a year ago and whilst I miss elements of my old life there is so much more I don’t miss.

      Take care & good luck x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sat here in a coffee shop, alone, reading your post. I enjoy my company but feel anxious when I don’t have a connection with people too.
    You make it all seem ok and that I shouldn’t be so anxious at times. Thanks. X

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Nic, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling like that but I’m pleased that my post has helped a little. It always means a great deal to hear that my writing has been able to make a difference to people, however small. And I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you and best wishes!

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  4. Very well put Matthew. I work with older people and many of them tell me they are lonely. In the last 2 years we’ve put it as a overall priority because after all – “loneliness is more harmful than smoking 15 cigarettes a day” and I get that having been there myself. I think mentality has changed it used to just be single people who could be deemed as lonely but now people realise that someone can ‘have it all’ on paper but still be lonely, and it’s ok to admit that. That’s what happened to me, however a couple of my closest people saw through my fake smile x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Sophie, I appreciate it. Since writing if I’ve started reading a very interesting book on the subject, The Lonely City – Adventures in the Art of Living Alone by Olivia Laing, I’d really recommended it. Being on your own definitely takes some adjusting to, now I’m trying to make the most of the opportunity I have to be spontaneous and that is definitely helping. Good to hear you have good friends that were able to help.

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  5. Superb article Matthew. As a woman I’m not supposed to admit to lonlieness or neediness at all so it’s really refreshing and supportive to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Everyone can feel lonely, even when you’re physically with someone. Towards the end of my relationship I felt very lonely as my relationship was so broken and beyond repair. It’s why I like writing as I find it gives me something to throw my head into and I have to be solitary to do it. I found it hard at first, but I think (I hope) I’ve learnt to truly appreciate the time I’m spending on my own and then cherish the time I have with others more so.

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    1. That’s definitely true. And I really agree about the writing, I’m so glad I’ve got that in my life as there’s rarely time when I have nothing to do and I feel that through writing I’m making something positive and productive of my single time. Like you say, it’s very hard at first but it definitely has its benefits.

      Like

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