I am on a mission to cure loneliness in the world.
I wasn’t aware that I was on this mission until I looked back and saw my life and how I spent my time.
As a child, I was always the one who would welcome the new student to the school and the class. I would make sure they were introduced and also got them up to speed on school stuff.
As a daughter, I was the one who listened to my alcoholic dad’s rants when my mother was worn out and my brother left the house. I was not happy with this role but behind my father’s bravado, I often saw a man dealing with his pain the best way he could. I saw a man’s loneliness drive his own family away.
Of course, I would end up as a youth worker/counselor as one of my jobs. I would sit for hours with teenagers after school so they didn’t have to return to empty homes or homes where no one was listening to them or worse homes where they were being made use of. I saw in them —the younger me. I hoped to save them.
Basically I wanted people to be seen and heard and love unconditionally for being themselves. Actually all I was doing was wanting that for myself. I wanted to be seen, heard and loved unconditionally. I didn’t want to feel alone.
In an attempt to reduce my own sense of being alone, these are the things I have done. I have found other people have used them too.
- Fill my life up with things to do and places to be so that I never am alone. I am also never really able to think or be myself since I am being everything to everyone. Helping at a birthday party, working a job, watching a movie, making something… Do do do do.
- Be with people and places I do not enjoy so I don’t have to be alone. How often have I stayed longer at a party which no longer made me feel good and had slipped into unhealthy behaviours? How often have I nodded and agreed with friends’ views just so I don’t rock the boat and be without a clique.
- Drink, eat, work too much and too hard. Numb the feelings of loneliness.
- Stay in abusive friendships and relationships simply because they were the only friends or the oldest friends or the ones nearest to being able to understand. A peer group or a support group or a group who has survived a similar ordeal.
- Dress a certain way to enter a certain class or group of people. Talk a certain way so I will not be seen as an outside. Walk a certain way.
- Deny my own desires and opinions because I didn’t want to lose family, friends or my ‘good standing’ in the company of complete strangers.
- Smile. Or Don’t Smile. Fake Smile. Basically reduce the range of feelings I can have so I cannot feel rejected. Or at least if I am rejected my a group, I won’t feel the pinch so much. Or I wouldn’t let them see me cry. So in many ways I stopped feeling.
In recent years, I have become a friend to my loneliness. To say I am my own best friend may be a stretch. I am more often my own worst enemy than my own best friend. The amount of critic and negativity I have towards myself is frightening. We have a negativity bias that makes us believe the worse of ourselves and others. We believe the worst things first. We prepare to be hurt more often than to be loved or be happy.
However when I see this loneliness creeping and this negativity approaching in myself, I am now through my mindfulness practices more likely to show compassion to myself.
Being lonely is part of being human
Feeling like no one understands you — is very likely because no one ever 100% does. No matter how much they love you — they are not mind and heart readers.
Going alone is part of the journey of discovering ourselves as we are.
However what I now understanding is how I am always ONE with humanity in so many many ways that I am Never truly alone.
I can be ONE with the pain of a fellow human. I cry when they are sad and I laugh when they are happy. That connection is palpable. If I feel that the person is like me or I relate to them; then we are ONE.
so 3 Ways that help reduce Loneliness?
8) I am less lonely when I find someone to help and be with in their journey. When I open my eyes and ears to the humanity and feel their pain too. For everyone who lost a lover/best friend/parent — there is another hundred or thousands of others crying in the night from the same plight. For everyone who is rejected by society and outcast, we have a twin sister and brother across the globe in the same pain.
9) When I tell someone, “I am lonely.”
I allow for a response and a way for them to enter into communion with me. I reach out and though may be not all the world will come to my aid. The ones who can — the ones who will hear me — the ones who understand — all I need is that one.
That one will help me lift my drooping spirits.
If tonight you feel alone… please reach out.
If tonight you feel you cannot handle whatever you are facing .. please reach out.
If tonight, you feel no one gets it and no one ever will. Please please please — tell us how you feel. Give us that chance to be there for you too.
10) I know that this too shall pass. The moment of darkness is part of the natural rhythm and though I feel cold and nearly mad or beyond reach, if I just hold on for a minute longer, if I just breathe into the emptiness and hold on to the hope of a dawn. I will make it through it. The loneliness, the pain, the existential unknowing and the doubt will pass.
Join the Mission to Cure Loneliness.
Call a friend
Visit a home for the elderly
Spend time with a marginalized group
This was written with tears running down my face and with a heavy heart… news that a friend had suicided hit me today.
— The most salient characteristics shared by the 10% of students with the highest levels of happiness and the fewest signs of depression were their strong ties to friends and family and commitment to spending time with them.” (‘Very Happy People,” Psychological Science 2002)