A friend said to me, “I’m lonely everywhere. It’s fine.”
I often feel lonely and I don’t like the feeling. Sometimes I feel homesick too, which is confusing because I haven’t had a “home” for over 10 years.
I spend most of my time alone. Often, I’ll spend a month in a new city and have only 2 or 3 social occasions during that time. I love being on my own. The days are long, my thoughts are clear and I can do exactly what I want, when I want.
But there is a point, after day 5 or 6, or maybe even day 10, when the bottom all of a sudden drops out and loneliness takes hold. It’s horrible. My mind, that up to now, had been a very pleasant place to spend time, sides against me. Quite quickly, I start to think it would be ok if I just died. In fact, it would be a relief. I lose all sense of objectivity and am riddled with doubts and insecurities.
Loneliness has become so common to me that I wanted to try to break it down.
I experience loneliness as a longing for reassurance. Reassurance that I’m acceptable, pretty, loveable or something. I imagine there is a spectrum—from people who experience loneliness acutely to people who have a far higher tolerance for solitude. Homesickness feels similar but more like a longing for a place guaranteed to give me that reassurance. The place I am least likely to feel judged.
I think our minds have a tendency to turn mean when we are alone “too long”. We seek reassurance from our peers that we’re not crazy because being alone is a vulnerable place to be. When I realise that that my mind is actually trying to protect me, usually I soften and can do something about it. I spend time with a friend. Sometimes a long phone call is enough. I am reassured that I am not completely flawed and unloveable and life starts to brighten up again.
Now I am ok with loneliness because I understand that it is a healthy intuition that I need to change something.
H/T to @chriswillx for the title that I took from a conversation we had.