*Waves Frantically* Come Sit By Me!–
Forget Carbs I’m Kind of Lonely.
I just got an email that compelled me to move past carbs and food when talking about health and broach a much more difficult topic: loneliness.
I’ve been hurt in my life, felt angry, and been lonely but I think the emotion that ached the most, the one that made me feel worried for my future, was loneliness. We humans we love connection. We have chemicals in our brain specifically for bonding. So what if we have a trouble finding people to bond to?
Getting a divorce made me feel both bad at relationships and single with a capitol ALONE. For a long time I felt disqualified from giving relationship advice to my kids, my friends, and the person next to me on the bus. For a busy body like m’self that is a hard row to hoe.
Is there a lid for every pot?
I wondered because my lid was broken and I wasn’t sure if the future would have the glue.
Let’s try and problem-solve loneliness with science first, because we can. There is research on lonliness and why lonely people remain lonely.Lonely Science Here
One thought is that because lonely people are worried about being lonely so we put too high a price on social interactions and we choke. Our anxiety about meeting people, making friends, and living outside of our solitude feels more like fear and less like excitement. It’s been proposed that if we reframe our fear as excitement we can “trick” ourselves and feel alive instead of on the verge of being alone…again.
I like excitement so much better than fear and since they are so similar, this idea makes sense to me.
So that means people have get comfortable with discomfort. And, personally, I like to be comfortable.
I’m not one for online dating, bars or large parties and I get bored with small talk add these to my score board [Marriage-0, divorce-1] and my future looked quiet.
But, things changed. They changed because I found a way to merge newness with comfort. I got a dog. I know, shocking. A labradoodle that both looked like me and was very, very social. Then, I went to the dog park and I met really wonderful like-minded dog people. In fact, I met my vetrenarian there and now she is one of my very best friends. She introduced me to her siblings and now her family is my family. Truly. I fell in love with her brother. The timeline was A LOT longer than this paragraph suggests but that is how it happened.
Other things happened too. I became less rigid about a lot of things. I started saying yes to things I would have said no to before. I stopped, stopping relationships that didn’t fit my criteria. I met smokers, drinkers, and people who played video games. I didn’t start doing any of these things but I met more people. I got out of the house and wrote in coffee shops, I made eye contact, and I smiled. Was I always comfortable? No and when I say ‘no’ what I mean is NO, the royal version of the ‘NO’.
What else can a lonely person do? I don’t know but I can tell you what helped me. I got therapy. In therapy I worked on defining what I did wrong in my marriage. I explored co-dependence and how be a friend and not an enabler. I wanted to know if my loneliness was really depression, or anxiety, or one of the other emotions that paralyze us and make us feel desperate.
Look, if you know me, you are probably thinking that socializing comes easy for me, I’m an extrovert with a capitol E. But even extroverts are alone until they aren’t. So even though I’m disqualified from giving advice (see aforementioned divorce) I think ultimately we have to decide if our discomfort of being alone is greater than our discomfort of reaching out? If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to get a dog (or whatever dog means to you).