For those that have experienced loneliness you will know how upsetting it can be. I’ve had periods of loneliness throughout my life and thankfully now I experience this very rarely. You can turn loneliness into learning.
My home was often full of people, if it wasn’t the family it was foreign students or friends of my mums so generally a busy household. Even though there were a lot of people at times I felt deep loneliness, the sort of hurt that gets you right in the chest where you can’t breathe or think straight.
What was making me lonely?
Usually we feel lonely for 2 reasons, one is because we aren’t mixing very much with others and the other is that we aren’t feeling understood or cared for. I definitely fitted into the second category.
I felt totally misunderstood by my parents, my father was an alcoholic and my mum was very busy running the house and working. I felt very disconnected and it wasn’t until I attended an Al-Anon meeting (for those affected by someone else’s drinking) that I finally felt connection. I was hearing people say the things I did and share feelings that I could relate to. The relief was immense, it was like receiving a cure to an illness that I had suffered for many years.
Because living in an alcoholic home is very unpredictable and scary at times, I decided the safest option was to isolate myself. I often went into my bedroom and listened to music, played on my computer or just found something to do that kept me out of the chaos. I felt deep sadness, I didn’t really want to be alone but it was better than the alternative. I wanted someone to understand how I felt, really get me but unfortunately that wasn’t available to me at the time.
The impact of loneliness
Having a huge longing for something you can’t have is extremely frustrating, Maybe you feel sorry for yourself and blame yourself for why you don’t connect with people.
It wasn’t until my adult life that I was able to improve my relationships with others, and understand more about what I needed and how to express my feelings. Opening up wasn’t something I did as a child but it was something I had to learn as I grew up if I wanted the connection I so longed for.
Whenever we feel something’s wrong, it’s our bodies way of telling us that something isn’t right and we need to pay attention.
Positive steps to feeling connected:
- Talk to others – interact – connect (online and offline)
- Think of those you have a great connection with and open up to them
- Compare yourself to others only for information not punishment – other may share their experiences on blogs which you may relate to
- You need to get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise, also you may realise your self-esteem is affected. You may feel stressed due to feeling lonely or something else. It can affect your mental health or if you have a mental health illness this can make you feel lonely
- Get professional help if you need to
You may want to join online groups with like-minded people who get you and your situation. You could also volunteer for charities that you care about. I help feed the homeless which is something close to my heart. Start small and grow into it, maybe online is easier and more convenient. Listen to yourself and do what feels right.
Be mindful if you are expecting more of yourself that you can realistically achieve right now. Remember, just because you don’t have something now, certainly doesn’t mean you won’t get it at some stage. Nothing is forever.
Making sure we look after ourselves in a holistic way is vital, what I mean is to ensure you get a good balance of healthy food, do some exercise (even if it is parking further away than usual and walking), getting enough shut eye in although I appreciate that can be hard if you have things on your mind. The best way I found to help with an overactive mind is to write it all down, I remember my mum telling me this years ago and she said “once it’s out of your head you don’t have to worry about it anymore”. I hate to admit it but she’s 100% on the money.
Writing down positive things that you can refer to when you feel low can be helpful. Start a gratitude journal which will help you feel positive.
One step at a time. One step forward today is one step more than yesterday.