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