For me the hardest thing about feeling lonely is admitting it to myself, and to others. I can never bring myself to say, “please could we meet up today, as I’m feeling quite lonely”. I avoid doing it at all costs, even though I know from experience it always helps. I don’t like to admit that I’m lonely as I don’t want my friends to worry or change plans for me; I know I’ll feel better at some point and it almost feels like a surrender to the loneliness. I feel weak, and slightly pathetic.
I usually result to asking someone for coffee, not as code for “I need to have more human interaction today” but just as a signal to myself that I feel lonely, need support and most definitely need to leave the house.
Now this doesn’t always work. I live around 30 minutes from my close friends at home, some of them are hours away or in a different country, so obviously a quick coffee and a catch up is pretty difficult to arrange last minute. Also, I haven’t admitted that this coffee isn’t to fuel my caffeine addiction, but to fill my reoccurring loneliness from creeping in and setting up camp.
It was easier at university as everyone I knew and saw was within a five-mile radius. If I said about meeting up for coffee within fifteen minutes we’d be having coffee, and I would completely lose sight of the fact that an hour ago I felt isolated.
But I can’t always get away from it, especially now I have finished my degree. I’m in post-uni limbo, where I’m left to stew on my thoughts and feelings on my own at home, in a little pocket of the world away from my go-to-coffee-pals.
The longer the feeling grows, the more I actively avoid messaging others, or reaching out. I begin to cancel existing places and opt to have a hobbit-like existence in my house with the two-dimensional people who won’t ask me how I am, or why I cancelled, or why I haven’t seen them yet.
The worst part about loneliness is that I never feel like myself when I’m lonely, if I begin to not want to go somewhere I force myself to go, as I don’t want to give in and let down a friend. It occurred to me that the main problem with loneliness is that it encourages loneliness. It encourages you to isolate yourselves from others, as your brain becomes foggy and your body feels weighed down, and the last thing you want to do is meet up with x and y and face other people in this heavy, lazy state.
My loneliness and depression used to be this extreme and this physical. Before university I would go weeks without seeing people, just so I didn’t have to admit how I felt. It seemed weak, stupid and most of all, lazy.
Why couldn’t I just feel better? I thought to myself. Why wouldn’t it just go away?
I would say it’s better now as my loneliness is more in my mind, I can still function like a human being, plan, organise, work and socialise. I just sometimes elapse into an old heavy mindset and feel all of a sudden weighed down with being on my own, or having not seen or heard from some of my closest friends.
Life is busy for everyone, so loneliness becomes almost inevitable at some point in life. I’m grateful that while I sometimes feel lonely, it is never as severe as after my Dad passed away, mainly as I have a strategy to combat it.
I a) know it’s a phase, b) don’t believe the doubts in my head that I am truly alone, and c) I message and ask for that much needed coffee to be dragged out of my own head and away from the loneliness, to be reunited with three-dimensional people. I’ve always preferred them anyway.