Loneliness and Solitude | Part 1
Loneliness isn’t new, and it isn’t going away. This post is about my loneliness, since I don’t know about your loneliness.
I can’t count how many times I’ve felt lonely. I used to say, “All my life I’ve ached to belong.” I may as well have said, “All my life I’ve ached with loneliness.”
Loneliness is a nagging feeling that no one truly understands me, that I’m strange and different, a peg in a round hole. I could describe it a thousand ways, but it would all amount to being abandoned, utterly alone. Even though I’m surrounded by friends and family members who seem to love and appreciate me.
I was lonely as a child, as a teenager, even as a college student surrounded by women and men who genuinely liked me. Lonely, always searching, looking for someone who would take it away. Erase it forever.
I searched for this person through my teenage years, young adult and even my middle adult years. I wanted a cure. Every person I met might be the one. My savior. My soul mate forever. The one who would finally banish loneliness. Forever.
Misery. That’s what loneliness felt like in me. A belief that I wasn’t good enough, attractive enough, smart enough, quick enough, talented enough, hip enough, desirable enough, laid-back enough, hang-loose enough, or even religious enough. Lonely and left out because I am who I am.
If you paid attention to me, I might very well pay attention to you. Unless I didn’t like you from the beginning. Another way of putting it: I was vulnerable to being used. Not necessarily for anything horrible, but perhaps to fill your wish to be considered good enough, attractive enough, smart enough and all the rest.
Impossible expectations. That’s what my loneliness led to when I looked at you. Impossible expectations about how you would banish my miserable loneliness. As though you had magic pills, or were a god or goddess who would know exactly what to do and what to say. All the time, 24/7.
You would never be forgetful or unmindful of me, impatient with me, dump me for someone else, or be clueless about what I needed but couldn’t clearly articulate. You would effortlessly read my emotions, my thoughts, my body language, my heart. Nothing would be too difficult for you! In fact, I wouldn’t have to ask for anything. You would just know exactly what to do, and do it.
I married with this loneliness. I mothered with it. I worked around it every day. No one could ever say I was a slacker, that I didn’t pull more than my fair share of the weight. I didn’t groan and moan and talk about how lonely I was. In fact, all this activity helped me feel better and forget how lonely I was.
Women’s work is never done. Right? That’s what I thought, too. Right on, Sister! I know exactly what you mean. Slaving away every day all day long with nary a moment of downtime.
Look at all those weaklings taking personal time off. Or even sick days. Going away and doing nothing! Leaving me here to cope with everything that comes up including puke. The nerve of them! How dare they?! Cold resentment and hot anger grew in me, right next to the loneliness.
Downtime? I dreamed of it. I lusted for it. I got furious thinking about how little downtime I had. My list of tasks kept multiplying exponentially. Downtime wasn’t on my list. That was for weaklings, or people who didn’t work smart and hard enough.
As for me, I kept my nose to the grindstone. Met all deadlines. Piled on the meetings. Stayed late at work. Worked at home. No time left to attend to my screaming loneliness. At least I’m doing something productive.
Part 2 – Solitude
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2015