Loneliness, ironically, has proven to be a lifelong companion of mine. It exhibits little logic or rationale. Sometimes, it understandably visits me when I am alone. Sometimes, it is pervasive when I am with others. It can be triggered by the strangest things and, often, nothing at all.
I am entirely fortunate in my personal relationship. My partner truly is my partner and I am so grateful. For over a decade we have built this wonderful situation that I am never not in awe of, and when my loneliness descends upon me, I often wonder why; for all intents and purposes I’m lacking nothing.
What prompted me to think about this was a bout of loneliness brought on by the oddest of things: a not-at-all-sad song.
Each week I watch the Game Informer Show video podcast. The song at the very end always makes me feel unspeakably lonely and sad. I have no idea why. I have no associations with that song other than the podcast. I’ve wondered and wondered about this, and the only thing I can think of is that the song marks the end of the podcast, and I don’t like things to end. But that feels like an oversimplification for something I can’t quite put my finger on. The song makes me feel hollow and yearning and deeply lonely. It always has.
Most of my friends exist in the computer. That is to say, I connect with most of my friends online or through gaming. In the decade plus we have lived here in southern California, we have never really had in-person friends close by. There have been a few people we have seen recreationally, but certainly not with any sort of regularity.
That does feel lonely.
Before we moved here, I used to go dancing nearly every weekend. There is something personally fulfilling about going to a crowded place and moving to music with scores of anonymous people. In that scenario, I owe no one anything, and no one owes me; we are all there to dance. When the music is loud and the dancing is good, there is almost no place I feel more at home.
I think it is impossible for me to feel lonely while dancing. That might explain why, even when my life was in the toilet, dancing was my refuge; it was the safest of all places. I could get all that pent up frustration out and turn it into something glorious.
But, after a night of dancing, during the inevitable walk home through the city, a deep loneliness would set in. When I would return to my empty apartment, the loneliness would get worse and drown almost all else out.
I remember I used to be so lonely back then, I’d go to the grocery store just to be around people.
Lately I’ve been thinking about friendships. I’ve lost a couple people from my life I considered friends, and it has left me with this massive loneliness that masquerades as feeling like I don’t deserve friends or, worse yet, that I am somehow incapable of finding and fostering lasting friendships.
It feels very lonely, indeed.
I care about people so much and take friendships so seriously. To have more than one seemingly crumble in a short time makes me feel like the cause has to be me.
Loneliness strikes again.
I feel like I was trying to say one thing at the beginning of this piece. Now I have no idea what I’m trying to say. I suppose I’m trying to say, you never know what’s going on in other people’s lives. What things look like is rarely the whole truth. I try to remind myself to practice kindness, always kindness, because you just never know. Most of the things we all deal with are invisible and carry a weight others might never see. It’s easy to be short or sarcastic, but reaching out, extending kindness, asking someone a question, those are all exceedingly kind and easy things to do. And you never know who might need them most.
Kindness, kindness, always kindness.