Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Alone vs Lonely

"The lonelier [people] get, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired. Loneliness is accretive, extending and perpetuating itself." (From here)

Loneliness is a strange creature. It is hunger, it is shame, it is not something to be admitted to. Loneliness is stress, it makes you spin like a top, scared to interact with people, lest they push you away, makes you see things, hear things, gives you ideas ideas ideas bouncing around your skull. Loneliness is danger, you can die in the jungle, eaten by some wild animal, by the monsters under your bed.

Loneliness keeps you from sleeping well, and eventually the sleep deprivation adds to the stress, and left is a ball of hyper tension.

How can one be lonely in the midst of friends, coworkers, city life? How can one get out of that state?

I don't think I would call myself lonely. I am alone a lot of the time, but I don't feel lonely. Yet I am suffering the symptoms of loneliness, and I have for a long time been aware that the cure for my sleep issues is to find someone I can relax around to sleep next to, cuddle up to, a few nights a month. Convincing my reptile brain that no, I am not lonely, I have people around me. Oxytocin relieving the stress hormones - maybe balancing them out, or maybe stopping the production, I don't know which. But it is highly functional as stress relief, steadies me, makes me more coherent, useful, productive in a stable way

I still wouldn't say I feel lonely most of the time, but I am certainly exhibiting signs of it. Maybe I just have issues identifying my own feelings? Yet I am so happy to be alone, my starfish sleeping position, my autonomy and freedom.


  1. It's possible to feel lonely in a big city and surrounded by people, at work and social settings. I know, bacuse I've had that feeling a few times (not many).

    Too much of anything is not good. I usually have the problem that I don't get enough time alone. I have family and kids and it feels like I'm surrounded by people all the time. Therefore, when I have the chance to be alone, I enjoy being alone, rather than seeking social company. I know a lot of people, but I don't have many close friends, and I don't want to have it.

    An "a-few-times-a-month" sleeping partner might be ideal, because every night is a little bit to much.

    Identyfing feelings can be difficult. For me it works to write short stories from time to time (maybe I will even finish a novel some time). But I guess every person need to figure out what works for him/her >:)

    Cold As Heaven

    1. I am beginning to think maybe loneliness can be many different things, like other feelings (anger, sadness, love, happiness). Not just the one thing I associated it with.

      But yes, you are onto something. I am introvert enough to get thoroughly anxious just at the thought that there MIGHT be someone in the kitchen if I am low on social energy. I really need to live alone, for my mental health. And the one thing sure to make me turn tail and run is if a person I am dating is showing signs of wanting a more joined-at-the-hip relationship, moving in together down the line, telling eachother what they're up to every day. I tend to say that I am not girlfriend material; which is a gross oversimplification, but with the classical view of what a Relationship is, it's accurate enough (I would certainly hear that a man is not boyfriend material if he had my lifestyle and opinions!).

      But still, I miss physical closeness, and I don't mean sex. Sex is easy, if I actually want it, I know I can have it, but that's not what I miss. And wanting a snuggle partner without sex has its own problems, because boundaries, and confused bodies, and it is very hard to get to the point where one actually trusts someone to not make sexual advances.

      In many ways I am less lonely if I isolate myself more. I am very socially needy in many ways, I want companionship and to be around people I like as long as I have social energy, I want to talk back and forth on email or IM all day long, I want to sit squeezed in on a bench in a bar talking and listening, I want to drowsily watch a movie with my head on someone's shoulder, I want to do stuff and create memories with people. But because people tend to be partnered and because the intellectual intimacy I crave seem to be rare to me mutual, I wind up feeling slightly outsider-ish in most situations. Living in a cottage in the forest, coming out once every few months for some foodstuffs and more whisky and a night at a concert, would alleviate that. It is like coffee, if I keep having a small cup every morning I keep craving it and the addiction won't go away, I need to reduce it to an occasional treat.

      And in this case I am not sure I want to do that, not with social things, not with the connections I could (in theory) make, the very giving relationships (platonic, snuggly, romantic or sexual) I could (if lucky) have.

      I did do it with coffee, by the way.



Be nice!