To You, The Effortlessly Lonely

Isn’t it terribly sad, what loneliness can do?

Loneliness is ridiculously easy to spot: it’s a lot like permanent black ink; once it’s snaked and threaded its way through your life, it leaves marks.

I can always spot people who’ve come into contact with it because they give off a weird glow. I don’t mean a sunshine hazy glowy glow, but a more dull, effusive one. It gleams out of them from multiple points.

Anyone who’s been touched by loneliness of any kind and has survived is a kindred spirit. These are people who, through some sort of incident, have been forced to pull back the strangest, deepest parts of themselves and face them head on.

Lonely people have this large and forceful energy: they use this to run from themselves. They do this often, even though they recognise that they’re all they have.

Understand that loneliness is not the absence of people. It is just absence. It is feeling like you have a pit where your stomach used to be, a well that keeps on sucking in any small moments of light and air that you might experience. Loneliness is greedy and it is selfish and it does not let up.

I know that people say they’ve often felt loneliest in the middle of a big crowd. I, on the other hand, have often recognised loneliness’ insidious presence when I’m thinking a 100 thoughts at a time. I think of this, I think of that and then suddenly, I hit a vacuum – and there stands loneliness. Hi again.

It is a quiet space in my head. It is not the kind of silence you want, the curled-up-with-a-good-book-while-it-rains-outside kind of sibilant silence. No, it’s the sort of quiet that deafens me because it is so loud it drowns out everything else.

What more does loneliness do, you ask? It cripples me. It makes me sit in one place for seconds that feel like minutes, minutes that feel like endless dark days, and just think. There is no resolution and no air to breathe. There is a sofa on which there is me and there is loneliness. And we just sit and we don’t talk, because there is no one who can understand.

And before you tell me to look at the people in my life, let me tell you this. No amount of friends, family or lovers can chase it away. At best, they are stopgaps I use to swing from one lonely moment to another. This is not to say that I am not happy. I am more often than not exceedingly happy. But everything comes with a price, really.

I have lost my best friend in the whole wide world. And while I have lost him many times over, it doesn’t get easier. I just get stronger. I get smarter. And I get ready to fight again.

And in the mean time, I write.



One Comment Add yours

  1. This is beautiful. When you spoke of loneliness being deafening, I could relate. One of my favorite lines in “Rise Up” is when she sings, “When the silence isn’t quiet, and it’s getting hard to breathe…”. I feel that often because even when it’s quiet my thoughts of failure and hopelessness can overtake the beautiful peace. But the good news is — and I DO believe this — this is only a moment. A painful, hurt-filled, tear staining moment that passes by ever so slowly. But a moment nonetheless. Your loss, my grief, the others out there who feel loneliness creeping into every area of their life, whether alone or surrounded by others… we will all make it through this and rise above! And we will be there for others once we triumph because we will know how painful this season is. Rooting for you. Keep writing. -Shell

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