Being lonely is like having a bad back: the ache is always there, but just in varying degrees. For the most part, you learn to work around it, but sometimes the pain is so bad you can hardly drag yourself out of bed, let alone get through a day.
You can’t talk to people about having a bad back, in the same way as you can’t ‘chat’ about being lonely … There’s something just too self-indulgent about approaching a friend and saying “God I feel so horrendously alone that I can hardly breathe today” that you just don’t do it. I have done it a couple of times over the last 3 years, out of sheer desperation, but the glazed ‘oh God get me out of here’ look of the listener and the polite pitying smile or the “poor you, it must be awful” interjections made me realise very quickly I should rather just shut up. The other thing is, even trying to find a way of describing it to someone else is enough to make the whole concept seem inane, pathetic and ridiculous. Particularly to myself when I hear myself speak. There seems to be no physical language which can even touch the surface of how suffocating the feeling can get and of how destructive it can become if you let it control you even for a second. I certainly can’t blame anyone else for not wanting to listen to it – it’s tough for anyone to know what to say … neither physical nor mental pain makes for particularly stimulating chat over coffee: So how’re you doing? I’m great, work’s great, kids are great, hubs is great … and what about you? Well actually my back’s killing me and I’m withering up inside from being single with no friends …. it’s a total party killer.
So I don’t think lonely people really talk about being lonely much. But not talking about it, simply exacerbates the feeling of hopelessness and it stacks up. I try and pretend it’s not there most of the time – proactively going out of my way to make the most of my ‘freedom’ and my space. Occasionally it’s really not ok though and I snap. This afternoon I roared at my poor boy, who was actually being the most gorgeously behaved he has been in weeks. There is no measure of the guilt which followed and I took myself into another room to restore some semblance of control. In hindsight there was something very out of control about the method behind that too. I really don’t like being in this place.
So again, a few deep breaths, a packet of Tempos and some cold water later, it was my 3yo son who brought me back to my senses and I pulled myself together. Even feeling wretchedly empty and sad as I have this week couldn’t dull the overwhelming pride of him later riding quite literally out of my hands on his bike for the very first time. I think they heard me whooping in Canada.