“Sometimes you are surrounded by people and still feel lonely,” she said as she sipped her drink. It reminded me of the quote I saw once by Robin Williams, “I used to think that being alone was the worst feeling, but being in a room with others and feeling lonely is far worse.” We continued to talk about the distractions in her life that made it seem ok to feel lonely at times. The distractions, three of them to be exact, were consuming her so that the loneliness wasn’t killing her, yet. But at some point that loneliness may get the best of her, and she knows it.
It reminded me of another good friend I have whose entire world is consumed by three distractions, so much so that there is no room for anyone else. His world is also consumed by guilt, but in the end there is just no room for another person, friend or otherwise.
Although I understand the premise of being alone in a relationship, my loneliness has now gone farther for me and I am having difficulty breaking out of it. I thought I could, but I’m struggling with zero sense of belonging, anywhere. I feel as if the niche I once had, the belonging to different families including my own have all but disappeared. I don’t feel as if I belong anywhere anymore. And it is a very lonely feeling.
So, how do you break out of that? That is my dilemma. I spent a week’s vacation alone, more than I ever have. I had less to do, less people to get together with, nobody to go on a road trip with, not even invited to July 4th bar-b-ques. I enjoyed some of the alone time, trust me. The idea that there was nobody else (besides Lucy) dictating my schedule was somewhat freeing. However, I would take the infringement on a schedule to be with someone who made me laugh, brought out the silliness in me, and just made me feel like I belonged. I have lost the tribe I once feel like I had, I have lost the families I once felt a part of. Or at least that is how I have been feeling. I do know how busy everyone is these days, and people feel connected through social media, but that isn’t connectedness. Otherwise I would have over 700 people who would have invited me or I them! I actually am beginning to feel like my cousin did a while ago. Social media actually isolates you. You feel connected so you don’t reach out as much. You feel as if you know what is going on so you don’t engage in conversation like you once did. It actually hit me this week that this is real. Social media is connecting us on one level and perhaps isolating us on another.
For my part, isolation has become my salvation and my downfall. I do what I want when I want. I return calls or I don’t. I reach out or I don’t. Sometimes that is a great feeling. But then there is the longer term effect that isolation has had on me. The reality of what I have felt and been doing hit me hard this week. I am an extravert by nature therefore being alone is not natural for me. My energy gets drained when I am in my own head too much. And I begin to feel unworthy and unloved. Again. And that reality hit me.
I cannot expect someone to reach out or to want me around when I have been hiding in my own cocoon. And when you have battled depression and have been open about your life and your emotions, people make assumptions. So people have told me that they don’t reach out when they don’t hear from me because they figure I need my space. I did that. I created that.
I have to remember that everyone is in their own cycle of life and my space in it may or may not be about me. I always seem to make it about me. Another girlfriend of mine helped me see that this week. We hadn’t been together in a really long time. She has a very full life with her own children as well as stepchildren. My absence in her life wasn’t about me. My absence in her life was about life. It is about both of our lives, and how difficult it is to balance it all of the time. I understand that with her and always have. I never made our absence about me. Why is it I cannot do that with everyone?
A new lesson. I need to give everyone that benefit of the doubt that my absence in their life is not about me. If it is, I will figure that out. But too often I assume it is and I allow that assumption to get the best of me so I isolate myself more. It becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy and a way to kill my spirit! I feel lonely and alone in my head more than I should.
As I start the new week, I do so with some questions and some answers. I realize I need to give everyone a benefit that their life is full of distractions that are keeping them from being lonely and my absence isn’t necessarily about me. I also have questions now around how I find ways to no longer be so consumed by loneliness. How do I find my own space of belonging that isn’t dependent on others?