What is loneliness?  What does it mean to feel lonely and what does it also mean to not feel lonely, or to never feel lonely again?  Based on experience and observation, loneliness is not the same thing as feeling alone, but often a strong emotion of longing for a particular friendship, relationship or presence that is currently absent in our lives.  Sometimes it’s a result of feeling hurt.  Sometimes it means reminiscing, really missing a friend, family member or significant other, and really agonizing the need to fill that feeling of emptiness.  It’s normal for anyone to have experienced feel loneliness in their life time.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have experienced many different situations in my life, heard many different stories that came from those who lived through the experiences themselves.  Loneliness is one of the most powerful emotion, sometimes a life altering experience, that can impact any being significantly.

So what is the difference between “loneliness” and “feeling alone”?  Loneliness is usually associated with lack of companionship (e.g. friend, significant other or family member), whereas feeling alone is usually associated with the feelings solitude, lack of connection, agreement or understanding from others.  It is possible that both can go hand and hand, to feel alone and lonely, but it they are two different emotions with two different meanings.  For example, if you think cheese is the greatest thing ever but no one else around you agrees, then you might feel alone, but not necessarily lonely.  But if you’re feeling a significant void in your life and agonize for a cheese-loving significant other who you can enjoy cheese with, then maybe you’re lonely.

Maybe, for those who were lucky enough to live a life filled with love from family, friends, and perhaps a loved one, who were always there for you, it’s possible to never have felt a sense of loneliness.  But for most of us, we have felt loneliness at least once in our life time and we know how uncomfortable that feeling is.  Sometimes it is so strong, it drives us to make impulsive decisions that we wouldn’t normally do; sometimes life changing, and sometimes regrettable.

A friend who was at one of her lowest point in her life, felt so incredibly lonely that she felt she was losing her mind.  She decided to get involve with her ex, her first love which she longed for so much, even though he had really hurt her before and even though he had a new girlfriend.  She felt that he was the only one who could make her whole.  Then he broke her heart again, she regretted it, and felt like a total wreck.  Lonely again, she shortly and regrettably got involved with the next guy she got to know, who ended up hurting her as well.  They both took away her loneliness temporarily, she fooled herself into thinking that this is what she needed, but they were not exactly what she wanted, thus she felt even worse and lonelier.

On the other hand, a different friend who’s heart was ripped apart by someone she loved, felt so incredibly lonely and lost, eventually pushed herself to get to know someone new who treated her very well. They are still together.  Prior, she had absolutely no hope in loving again, and it absolutely broke my heart to see her in so much pain.

Two different people, both while heart broken and lonely, made life altering decisions with two different outcomes.  One made a sudden decisions to fill that void again, while the other took caution and thought it over carefully to prevent from getting hurt again.  But for those who have experience so much incredible pain and loneliness, they might remain incredibly cautious and more likely shut certain emotions or people out of their lives or keeping distance.  This is what I call the numbing or robot effect.  I know this too well…

Without getting details, when I was younger, there was someone I was completely attached to that made a huge impact in my life.  Something happened that I was unable to handle the situation at the time.  I was confuse, lost, and most of all, felt incredibly lonely.  I had no one I felt I could talk to, I missed this person, how everything was, and I was a total wreck that there were times I couldn’t function everyday tasks.  After recovering some, I decided that I never wanted to feel lonely again.  In a way, I detached myself, (numbed myself), from that emotion, and did not allow myself to get too close or attached to people at all.  I never incredibly missed people again and was able to do whatever I wanted without feeling the need for someone to be there.  Whenever a friend hurt me incredibly bad, I would move on very quickly without feeling lonely at all.

Yes, that is a good thing that I feel comfortable being completely alone, and not get so attached to people (emotionally dependent), skip the drama and waste no time, but this incident has affected my life so much, so a big part of how I felt emotionally to situations changed significantly, that I feel almost like I’m a robot, or less a human.  In situations where people feel they miss or need me, I generally don’t feel or express the same emotions; I automatically shut it out.  It’s a defense mechanism so that I won’t feel so sad or turn on the water works.  I admit, I still keep distant, and haven’t really allowed myself to fully open up to people, (besides my best friend, which also took years), and allow them to see a different, more serious side of me.  It became natural for me to put on a smile, even if I feel down, but I totally understand how unhealthy it is to keep everything bottled up.  It’s only a matter of time before that bottle starts fizzing and overflowing, then explodes, big time… trust me.  It all comes crashing down, hits me like a metal pole.   Not good at all.

I’ve put a little more effort over the recent years to try to open to people and yes, to tell you the truth, many individuals do make it more difficult—  I’ve gone through difficult situations where I’ve tried to open up to friends that I knew for years but they absolutely pushed me away, either because they aren’t comfortable talking about emotions or they simply don’t care.  It’s easy to give up, but that’s not the answer.  It takes time, trial and error before finding the right people to open up to, and I realized true friends are the ones who are still there, during and after a crises.

When you find yourself in great distress or even desperation from loneliness, step back, think rationally and realistically, hang out with the good friends and family you have and if you feel like you don’t, find them, (it takes time and a lot of patience).  Importantly, take the time to do things that you love alone, so that you feel more comfortable being by yourself and gain independence.   Also, I don’t recommend making sudden decisions in terms of relationships or someone might get hurt or you might end up feeling lonelier.  For example, after this person who liked me found out from me that I didn’t feel the same, I was asked if I was interested in a “physical” relationship instead.  I was really shocked and kindly declined so this person was pretty upset, threw a few insults, and said that there “plenty” of other people lined up who would.  I realized that this person was frustrated, very lonely and probably missed intimacy.  But even if there was someone who wanted this “physical” relationship, after awhile, I could imagine that this person would feel even more lonely, not being able to have a connection beyond the physical.  Then if there are feelings involved, someone could get hurt.

I know it’s easier said than done, but I think a happy, healthy, stable life, starts with feeling comfortable being with yourself, not feeling the need to always have company.  When you get to that point, there would be less risk of, a “rebound,” emotional attachment and strain on relationships, (I’ll likely get more on that in another entry).

Over all, loneliness is different from feeling alone, and those are different reasons why we may feel lonely.  Chances are no one likes to feel lonely, and it’s not healthy to always feel that way or to be like a robot and shut people out, but it can be an opportunity for self discovery for a positive outcome for the future.  Loneliness a powerful, delicate and natural human emotion that can drive us to make significant changes in our lives.
Share and Enjoy:
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Google
  • De.lirio.us
  • MySpace
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
Tags: , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Loneliness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *