I mean, we’re social creatures, human beings. We are supposed to survive together.
We currently live in a time and place where we are more connected than ever. Yet, here I am about to admit to you, that actually … I am lonely.
Or rather, I feel lonely. Really freaking lonely. I feel like I’m drowning in loneliness. It’s a feeling that I am ashamed to admit to, but at the same time it’s the honest truth and my current reality.
What do I mean by feeling lonely? I mean, I have a husband, a family, and Facebook friend list that runs into the hundreds. I even have follower lists on social media that run into the thousands. How can I possibly be lonely when I am surrounded by people? How can I be lonely when I have the technology and connectedness to speak to people every day?
Here’s the thing – I FEEL lonely. And I have felt lonely for quite some time. I have felt a loneliness that suffocates me. It’s almost desperate (god, that sounds so pathetic to say out loud) how much I miss regular conversations, relationships, friendships and interactions. The loneliness gets so much sometimes that I just crash out altogether, I switch off, close down.
This loneliness is so damn isolating that I feel like everyone else in the world is connected and I am all on my own. How terribly sad is that?
And yet, it occurred to me today that maybe I am not the only one out there who feels this way. Maybe other people feel lonely and disconnected. Maybe there’s something to be said, to be shared.
So today I want to brave it, open my heart up, make myself feel vulnerable and maybe, just maybe…I’m not the only one.
First of all, before we get started, let’s address the husband. I am by no means discounting the joy and pleasure being with Raj brings me. He makes me unbelievably happy and he is my best friend. I love sharing my life with him, and being married is the best thing ever. For the most part of my life he brings me all of the happiness I could possibly want.
However, I still feel lonely.
One human being cannot possible be responsible for providing all the social relationships we need as a human being. It’s not possible, and it is also not fair to expect that. I love Raj and I am so happy to be his wife, but that one relationship is not, and should not, be the only relationship in my life. It’s not healthy for our marriage to put that amount of pressure onto it.
What I don’t have is any enduring or close friendships. That is where I am struggling.
Gosh, I feel pretty sad to say I don’t really have any friends. And it’s kind of complicated to say. You see, I have friends (like I said, there’s a few hundred on my Facebook account) and if they see this they might get offended. But hopefully they’ll understand what I mean.
I have some friends, but I wouldn’t say they’re close friends. That is, I don’t have anyone I could call when I’m in a moment of crisis and need someone to talk to. I don’t have a friend to have a regular gossip and catch-up with. I don’t have a friend who looks out for me, and I for them. If I disappeared for a while, I don’t have any friends that would really notice. Jeez, if I’m going to be totally honest, I didn’t have a hen do for my wedding because I didn’t think anyone would come.
But you’re part of this big blogging community, you might say, surely you have friends there. Well, yes and no. I can go to some events or conferences and see people I know. We’ll be on friendly terms and catch-up. But I still feel like an outsider.
I recently came to a realisation that almost every blogger I know is part of a blogger WhatsApp group of some kind. Every blogger that is, except me. That kinda stings. A year ago I won a Community Star award for my work in the blogging community, and yet here I am feeling less and less like I belong in that same community I have served for years. For whatever reason, I don’t feel like I’m included.
Similarly, I’ve lived in Birmingham for two and half years now and I haven’t really made any friends. I have found it quite difficult to find new friends as an adult (although, this has been compounded by the fact my wedding took up the majority of my life and mental bandwidth for most of this time).
As for old school friends, well…there are a few unlucky scenarios that played out for me and some long stories attached to them (probably best saved for another time). I always had friends and best friends throughout school and university but for one reason or another we either grew apart, they left the country, or some pretty damn dramatic shiz went down (I’ve had some pretty bad luck with the kind of people I’ve attracted in the past).
Again, a lot of this has been compounded by the fact I have moved house, and cities, so often throughout my life (it’s plus 30 times now – I’ve lost count). That has made it hard to form enduring friendships. I don’t have a hometown (I lived in London, Hampshire and Midlands growing up), I don’t have a location where all of my family live (they live across the entire country), I don’t have any friends from school, and most of my uni friends dispersed around the world over the last decade. That traditional hometown/family/community thing just doesn’t exist for me. I live in a city have no close connections here.
Similarly, I work for myself at home. My work is digital. It can be totally conducted online via email and the internet. I never have to leave the house. And often (mostly due to some mental health problems) I don’t leave the house for days or a week at a time.
Then, there is me. As a personality. I’m not sure how likeable I am. I try pretty hard at friendships, I am thoughtful, loyal, protective, and supportive. But I guess I am also sensitive, I hurt easily (and withdraw into myself when I feel or sense hurt), and outspoken. I have a certain level of self-awareness and hours of reflection to understand how my life circumstances and my personality have compounded the loneliness problem.
Ultimately, for whatever reason, I feel like I don’t really have any friends. And as such, I spend the majority of my life on my own feeling pretty lonely.
Now, for the most part I have gotten used to it. I like my own company and can keep myself occupied with my blog/social media/content creation. I can be a solitary person if I want to be, and I’ve never let being on my own stop me from doing anything – I travelled several times independently from the age 20. I am one of those people who is perfectly happy to go eat dinner in a restaurant by myself. Nothing, not even loneliness, will stop me getting a delicious Thai meal!
But at times, the loneliness gets to me. It envelops me like a dark grey cloud. It weighs heavy on my chest. It makes me incredibly sad.
I yearn for that companionship that friendships bring – the conversations, the in-jokes, the unwavering support, the reassurance of somebody being in your corner cheering you on, the warmth of their thoughtfulness, the safety of their acceptance of your crazy moments, the shared adventures, coffees, and shopping trips. I yearn for the daily messages of support, silly memes, hopes for the future. I yearn for the shared whinge-fest when life gets too much. I yearn for memories of wine-fuelled silliness. I yearn for the future hopes of family and success.
Part of me feels ridiculous for even writing these words on my blog.
What if sharing this shows the world just how unlovable, unfriendly, or unworthy of friendship I am? I feel exposed and vulnerable making this public.
And yet … I just have this hunch that I may not be the only one. There may be others that feel lonely and isolated. Maybe by sharing my story it might help others know that they are not alone in feeling that way.
I feel like loneliness is a disease, it eats you up. It can take over your life.
And so, me being me, I want to fight that. I want to fight the loneliness. I want to fight that disease. I want to figure out a way to forge and sustain adult friendships. I want to seek out all of those things I yearn for in friendships.
The moral of this story is … or rather, what I would like you to take away from this is … try to be kind to one another, you never know what a crucial difference that could make to somebody’s entire life and wellbeing.
I feel like there is a huge stigma to admit you are lonely. So please, be kind. This was really hard for me to share.