I am looking back on my life and when I used to be lonely.
If you are in that zone now, then listen up. It does not have to feel that way.
I believe it all revolves around one word, vulnerability and getting the knack of that.
So you know I am my own personal expert on this subject, I have been through some hellish periods of loneliness. Back in my late twenties I got so lonely that I could not even speak. I would sit with friends and they would just allow me to be there. It lasted 3/4 of a year. Also, during my teens I would get bored and hitchhike to some punk gig anywhere in the country. I would be so alone but in a crowd. I loved running through London jumping the tube with my bright blue mohican. Completely on my own. I felt crushing loneliness at these times and it made me make poor choices. And lastly, I have had relationships and been on my own within them, as the love wore off. Feeling really depressed. During my last episode of loneliness, I spent much of my day on the sofa, or at parties surrounded by alcoholics. It looked like I was not on my own, but I so was.
But it has not always been like that, I am certainly not a sad loser. I have experienced ‘not loneliness’ and I have had amazing relationships. I have fallen in love quite a few times in my life and feel so blessed. I have three beautiful girls who I adore chilling out with now they have left home and I have great friends just around the corner who I can go and visit whenever I like. My old problems with communicating a distant memory.
Nowadays I live on my own in paradise. A great old house in the country with a huge garden full of flowers and chickens and a dog. I have a wood burning stove for the winter and transport. I have good paid work and I do independent research in a subject I am passionate about.
So now I have set the scene I want to paint a picture of how it feels to be alone but not lonely. Right now, at this moment in time I am physically alone for the first time since that episode I just spoke of, back in my twenties. I do have thoughts that pop into my head which try to rattle me ‘you should be feeling lonely’ they say, and I check myself and I can sincerely say ‘no I’m not’. Sometimes recently I panic and feel overwhelmed, but it does not last long because I can always do what I need to do to sort out the ‘crisis’ that has just clouded my usually sunny disposition. It is usually something I have not done, something I have swept under the carpet through the years trying to cram stuff into my life to stop the feelings of loneliness that I feared would come if I stopped ‘doing’.
Doing to stop Being. I noticed that I would busy myself with distractions some years back and decided I did not want to be like that anymore. I had groups of people that I would do crazy things with, I had a husband who was not really there and a reputation which made it easy to fit in anywhere I went. But I was not happy. I had a nagging suspicion that I was not being ….me. I decided to clear away all this baggage and concentrate on being the person underneath the face which was put on for the world to see. I read many books on the subject of intimacy. I felt there was no intimacy in my life. I could not feel happy unless I was on my own far away from all this manic behaviour. I had a live-in van and would escape to lonely windswept places and realise that I would feel alive when I was there. One day I just decided to make that remote place my home. And that is where I live now.
Throughout my journey to find intimacy I kept coming across the word vulnerability. According to the literature, to feel intimacy with someone you had to be vulnerable. One had to share their vulnerability with a significant other. Not do things with each other but to just be with each other and share how you were feeling. It all seemed pretty easy and I practiced it loads. It drove away the insecure superficial types from my life, that stands to reason when you change yourself you will change who you attract, change your world. I stopped talking about what I was doing, something which I had noticed was making me more distant from others. I found I felt greater the intimacy as I started telling others about my feelings. To this day I do not know if it brought me closer to those people, but it had an interesting side effect. Now I am on my own I feel great. Apart from these fleeting thoughts that maybe I should not feel great I actually am. So what with the bad thoughts?
One of the things I have learnt about feelings, especially those desperate feelings that sweep over us from time to time, is that you just have to sit in them. Have you come across this before? It works. I started practicing this over a decade ago when I was having horrific nightmares and my conscious life mirrored my inner turmoil. I began a process of going back into my dreams and visualising doing the thing I was running from. I would dive into the shark’s mouth, leap on top of the monster, sink into the black waters. And I learnt to breath and, pretty soon, the bad dreams turned good and my life did too. Every time I have a bad feeling sweep over me now I try to sit in it, even though I may be panicky, and I try to stop the chatter of the monkey mind. It works. And it is a bit like being vulnerable isn’t it? False bravado might have made me run away and do something in the past, rather than experience the feeling and, after a while, I begin to share my vulnerability with my best friend, myself.
I do have yummy times with other people nowadays, but I only ever want to spend a couple of hours with these folk before I want to go and hang out with my best friend again, me.
I would imagine that one day I will meet another human being who wants to do the same thing that I do now. O and I know in my bones that if they are the superficial type they will not be hanging out with me for very long, will they?
I must add something here. To be you, you have to like yourself. If you are younger than me and have not faced your fears and accomplished your dreams, then please go and do that first or maybe you would be sitting here lonely and full of guilt and regrets. Or worse. You may be sitting alone in a relationship projecting those regrets onto your significant other. Tut Tut, but hey! accept that too. It is human nature and you need to practice loving yourself and all your fuck ups, as this very place gestates the birth of the exquisite vulnerability that I have been speaking about.
Good luck and tell me your thoughts.
I am looking back on my life and when I used to be lonely.