In my short life experience, I have come to understand there are three types of loneliness.
Loneliness – the effects of isolation.
This type of loneliness is a choice and can often bring about joy in the solidarity. Isolation from people, is a stamina booster for introverts. They are able to recharge their ability to focus, physical stamina as well as mental. Often being able to be alone, even if you aren’t an introvert, can provide a sense of independence and maturity in rational decision making. However, too much of a good thing can be just as bad. Isolation when in a permanent state can create social anxiety, social awkwardness or influence a negative ego. Often you find this negative side of isolation in Hollywood depictions of “hermits”; the grumpy old man with his shot gun, or the strange old hag with her cats. Yet you never see the positive side; the minimalistic nature of friendships (having just a few to spoil and focus on), the long baths with candles and incense and the serenity of a cabin in the woods away from the day to day stress.
I cherish this type of loneliness, serenity, in my daily life. I aim to give myself 1-2 hours each day away from the world (including cell-phone and TV) to center myself and be able to give my best to the people in my direct contact. I have learned the art of having very few friends, so that I can give my 100% to them rather than just 10%. In fact, my friendships are strong and they understand this side of me! They know that if I disappear for a few days or a few hours that I’m not mad at them but just recharging to be able to love them at full boost.
Loneliness – the effects of rejection or abandonment.
This type of loneliness can be felt even when one is not alone at all. Within a marriage this is sadly most common. When one partner feels “lonely in their relationship”, its not the absence of a relationship but the abandonment of their partner emotionally or feeling rejection caused by something becoming more important then their romance. The raising of children, work environments, friendships with peers or even influential hobbies, all play a part in causing this kind of loneliness. When there is not balance in a person’s life, one can abandon what is important for the sake of, or the lack of time. One can also sense this type of loneliness from a different side. Friendships as time passes are meant to grow and change, but when these friendships altogether pass away, the feeling of abandonment and then co-dependency on other friendships can make one feel this loneliness. You ever have that friend who demands so much of your time and attention only to find out you are their only friend? More than likely this person is experiencing loneliness because they feel abandonment or rejection from others and thus are desperate to not loose you too.
I experienced this type of loneliness in my late teens when I realized all my friends were 5-10 years older than myself. Most of them were getting married and having kids, or going to college when I was still in high school. At the time, I didn’t stop to realize that our lives were changing but instead felt irrational anger and hurt by their abandonment. Even today, I harmed my ability of connections with others who are at different walks of life because I still struggle with this thought that everyone eventually leaves. I can truthfully say I am older and wiser, knowing now that not all of these friendships failed because of my abandonment issues (some were just fake friends to begin with) but I still struggle and learn every day.
Loneliness – seclusion.
Unlike the first two, this type of loneliness has no true probable cause and thus no true solution. A recent study on the progression of depression in the United States has attributed to the cause of most individuals depression to be this sense of seclusion—but not in the way you might think. They are secluding themselves from emotional bonds, emotional stimulation and yes, any positive emotion. This type of loneliness is the person standing apart from the crowd, not because they want to but because they feel they have to. They are the individual hosting the party but not taking part in it. They are overly stimulated by social interaction and easily provoked but they give great advice and often have a lot of friends. It’s an ideal they have created in their mind to not allow others to understand them because they do not understand themselves. They may long to be apart of the action, but as soon as something begins to affect them they withdraw. Being around this type of person, you may sense an emotional disconnect and in turn begin to feel your own sense of loneliness and when they realize they are contagious they will often irrationally do everything in their power to cut off the relationship. They desire to feel cherished and safe, but never do. They long for true deep connections, but never stay around long enough to find out.
This is my constant state of life. Mainly driven out of fear, I put myself in harmful situations knowing the outcome because its safer to know then to face the unknown. I’m the supportive, kind and perfect girlfriend that doesn’t talk about her personal feelings or open up about the hurt she feels inside. I’m the best friend full of advice and wisdom, generous and helpful at all times, who refuses to ask or accept help herself all the while wondering why she feels so stuck.
Presently, it’s a struggle to even cope with this normal lifestyle. I wake up wondering if my coworkers will even notice if I’m working today. I go through the day and text or call a few people but run out of things to say when they begin to ask me questions like “how are you”. I’m supportive of things I don’t agree with, because I have to be in order to keep those I love happy, but then get angry at things, behaviors and results out of my control. How am I supposed to allow things to happen that I know won’t end well? I go to bed at night alone, feeling the comfort of my bed but wishing my dreams would bring me some sort of clarity as to why I’ve let my isolation go this far. Yet my dreams are always nightmares gradually building up to the emptiness I feel inside.
I have no solution, else this would be a “tip” and not a journal. But I want to know, what experience do you have with these three types of loneliness? If there’s away out, I’d love to know, but probably won’t take it because I’m to comfortable feeling utterly alone.