On The Place With No Name or A Tale Of the Lonely Blogger

I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress.

Diana Vreeland

I love Lucy.  I can watch Lucy reruns for hours.  One of my favorites is an episode from season 2, Lucy’s Last Birthday.  In this episode it seems that everyone has forgotten Lucy’s birthday, she becomes depressed and wanders around town. She meets the “Friends of the Friendless” in the park, and joins the ranks of the unhappy mob.  I understand Lucy’s emotions for more often than not, I feel friendless and alone. 

I make light of it often telling people I enjoy being alone, but the truth is it bothers me that I spend so much time alone, lonely.  I don’t let this loneliness keep me back.  I see movies, concerts and plays, I enjoy a cocktail or three at happy hour,  I visit museums, I dine on wonderful meals, and more often than not it is alone.  ALONE.  Honestly, I’m tired of doing all these great things alone.

Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway made this statement recently while being interviewed, but it isn’t a rare sentiment. I’ve heard this from many people.  It could be a sign of our digital age as we are connected to more people, but in reality are less connected to everyone. It could be a sign of the selfishness and self-centeredness of our culture. It could even be a sign of the “aimlessness” of our society. I am not sure what all the contributing factors are, but I do know that this is a reality in the lives of many people..

Recent US data studied by John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, found that almost a quarter of people today are plagued by frequent loneliness, regardless of gender, race, or education levels. A 2010 AARP survey found that of the people age 45 and up who participated in their study, 35% reported chronic loneliness compared with 20% ten years ago.

This trend reflects the fact that increasing numbers of people are living alone, added to the decrease in people joining groups and organizations that in the past fostered a sense of community. Robert Putnam, Ph.D. from Harvard (Bowling Alone, 2001), puts the blame on the long-term decline in Americans’ civic engagement. Boomers and those younger have been less likely to join churches or other groups that supported feelings of belonging to something meaningful. The fact that a person has hundreds if not thousands of “friends” on Facebook can actually make loneliness worse, because we seem to need to be in the presence of each others’ bodies.

I never thought at this point in my life I find myself to be part of this trend.  Part of another downward spiral.

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody”

Mother Theresa

Admitting to being lonely is not easy.  Loneliness is an issue that undoubtedly has a stigma attached to it. When you admit to being lonely people wonder what’s wrong with you.  Why can’t you make friends?  Well, I have friends; I have amazing friends.  But they seem to forget about me.  Others are scattered around the world, or married or homebodies.  So, there is nothing wrong with me thank you very much, well other than being lonely.  Yes, admitting to being lonely is not easy.

Admitting to loneliness is admitting to feeling vulnerable, which is a sign of weakness, and ‘real’ men are not weak and most certainly don’t whine and go on about it, even if they are lonely.

As I get older I find it harder to meet people. I just don’t know how to go about it anymore. My social skills are good; I work to engage people & I AM interested in what people have to say & who they are. I want to meet people, make new friends, and date, but at times I really feel inept.

At one point the loneliness just overwhelmed me. I was walking down the avenue one night. As I was passing by a busy restaurant, I looked in the window and saw so many people at quiet, intimate tables sharing smiles and conversations.

Suddenly I just couldn’t take it any longer. My mind became flooded with all of these thoughts like “Why is it never me in there with someone else?” “Why am I always alone? Is there something wrong with me?”  It all just seemed so futile. What was the point of living if I didn’t have anyone to share my life with?

It’s not my proudest moment, and when it happened I felt ashamed of my feelings. That was likely one of my lowest moments in my life, at least when it comes to loneliness.

What makes loneliness an anguish is not that I have no one to share my burden, but this: I have only my own burden to bear.

Dag Hammarskjold

Readers of this blog will know I’m an emotional eater.  Because we’re basically social animals, we require meaningful connections, and these are often sorely lacking in emotional eaters. As I remain socially isolated which is not a natural state of being, I turn to food when I feel lonely. When going thru intense periods of being lonely I’m inclined to use food to self-medicate. It is these times that I feel the powerlessness I have with food the most.  Perhaps loneliness is the body’s way of informing us to seek company.

Writing this blog — admitting to the loneliness I feel was not easy.  I hope by expressing my feelings of loneliness, I can contribute to others being willing to discuss their thoughts on loneliness and other issues and not feel trapped by stigmas, perceptions and stereotypes.

Bhole Babaji ki Jai!

7 thoughts on “On The Place With No Name or A Tale Of the Lonely Blogger

  1. Maureen Williams

    Hi Kenny,
    I can certainly relate to this one. I have been having many of the same thoughts about how much time I spend alone and about my feelings of loneliness. I realized after my younger sister died, I’d hardly ever felt lonely in my life since she was always there from the time I was 2 1/2 years old. Ironically, in my younger years, I was often pulling away to have some “alone” time. Now, especially since I retired last year, I have all the alone time anyone could want and sometimes it seems like way to much. I think you are very brave to admit to these feelings and I thank you for sharing them. I don’t share this with my other friends as they seem to get judgmental about it – like it’s WRONG for me to feel this way – and I should just pull myself out of it, join Match.com and find a man. (!) The one thing that sustains me is my belief in and relationship with a higher power. I find a 1/2 hour walk taking in the beauty of nature to be quite healing – I call them my “walks with God.” (I’ll admit, I also consider Match.com from time to time, but I know there have been times when I’ve felt lonelier with some men that I felt by myself.) Again, thanks for sharing this. You are such a beautiful person and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work with you when we did “It’s a Wonderful Life” at ATSF!
    Love,
    Maureen

    Reply
    1. kenny.vandenberg@gmail.com Post author

      What a beautiful response Maureen. I can so relate to all you’ve said. Thank you for sharing! XXOO

      Reply
  2. Ellen

    Hi Kenny,
    I’ve been there myself when I returned home to find friends had lives and moved on. But I wasn’t powerless; I made a choice to become involved. I’ve joined a few groups through meetup.com and found many like interests. Nobody’s powerless. Be creative and maybe start your own meetup!!
    Hugs-E

    Reply
  3. Sharon

    Kenny, thank you for this powerful and touching post. Since my divorce three years ago, I too have struggled with much loneliness. Friends who are busy with spouses and kids yearn for “alone time” and don’t seem to understand how frightening that alone time can be. They even envy me! There have been times when the weekend without my son is approaching and I feel absolutely panicked, thinking about how long and lonely the weekend will be. This has gotten better in the last year or so since I’ve worked to build a stronger inner life and feel more content with myself. I also find meetup groups have helped, as one of your friends suggested. Still, the loneliness creeps in sometimes. However, I also know that I was “alone” even when I was in my marriage, so a partner is not always the answer. I’m rambling now, but I want you to know I appreciated and empathized with the feelings you expressed in this post.

    Reply
  4. Debra

    Dear Kenny… As always, I am moved by your courageous heart. I love that you’re willing to be real, and by sharing, encouraging others to do the same.

    Reading this post reminded me of a favorite video I saw on youtube a few years ago… I found it to be beyond amazing and very real. Maybe you’ve seen it too. It’s called ‘How to Be Alone’. I went and found the link for you… Hope it resonates for you and that within it, you uncover some hidden comfort and maybe even some epic awesomeness in your most powerful alone moments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs&list=PL18C0EF39561F1B06

    I am honored and happy to be considered your friend…albeit one in the married/homebody category! 😉 You know what gets me out of the house…gathering with beloveds of conscious heart and soul, especially when chanting/singing the names of the divine are involved! 🙂 You are welcome here any time!!

    Keep shining your light…!!! I bow to the divinity within you… SatNam! Namaste!! <3 <3 <3 ~*~ Debra

    Reply

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