On loneliness

I’ve been feeling more lonely, more often, over the last few months. There, I admitted it.

I do enjoy my own company and usually *need* time on my own to stay sane.

But lately, it’s felt a lot more like ‘lonely’ than ‘alone’.

I have friends, but I no longer seem to have a best friend. She’s got her hands very full with two small children, a husband and a hectic life. She’s been drifting away from me for a few years now, if I’m honest. And it’s not for the lack of trying on my part – but after being turned down repeatedly when I suggest we meet up for coffee, or a drink, or even dinner if she can get away, I’ve kind of stopped asking. (She never calls me to suggest a get-together.) I miss her so much. She could always make me laugh until I wheezed. And she was always the person I could tell anything to.

So there’s a big gap in my life without her. I have other friends, but none who I feel I can call at 10pm when I’m having an anxiety attack. Which sucks, because I’ve been having a few of those recently, relating to a health issue.

How I wish that when I wake up in the middle of the night, and scary out-of-proportion thoughts flood my head, and my breath gets shallow and fast, and my heart thuds in my chest, that I had someone I could snuggle up to. Who would put a comforting arm around me and tell me that it will all be OK and that he’s there for me, and that I’m not crazy. And tell me to go back to sleep and it will all seem less awful in the morning.

Because it’s starting to feel like I’m never going to have that. That I’m weird and there’s something strange about me that just puts people off. Is it how I look? Should I lose weight? Do I walk funny? Do I smell bad?!! Or is it this unapproachable aura I apparently project, that makes me seem prickly or aloof and just not the kind of person you’d want to get to know. How is it that everyone else knows what to do to find The One?

I’m dreading getting older and having to deal with health issues on my own. Having to cope with the ageing and eventual loss of my wonderful parents without support. And not having a companion to hang out with and weather life’s ups and downs with.

Yes, I love being single. But no, I do not want to be single for the rest of my life.

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Who exactly are you “so blessed” by?

It seems to be the in thing these days to pronounce that you are “so blessed” every time you have a great day, hang out with lovely friends, realise that your spouse/child/cat is really quite wonderful, etc. etc.

I see this all. the. time in my social media feeds. The funny thing is that other than my very charismastic Christian contacts, most people counting their blessings are not religious at all – some even verging on atheism.

So I wonder, who exactly do they think is blessing them? ‘The Universe’? Or is it just a cliche that everyone’s using?

To me, as ‘blessing’ is very much associated with religion – you’re typically blessed by God, Jesus, Mohammed, clerics, or any multitude of gods, depending on your religious leanings. I am genuinely curious about this… would love to hear from anyone who this applies to.

If you are not religious, do you say this and if so, who do you think is blessing you?

A pang of realisation

I had breakfast with an old friend today. He’s in town on vacation and we always see each other when we’re in the same city, and loosely keep in touch via Facebook and email.

He’s had a rough few months for a variety of reasons and I don’t know if it was that, or jetlag, or just time passing, but for the first time I noticed he’s looking older. He has lines around his eyes that weren’t there last year. His demeanour is more serious, and his sparkle; his sense of fun; wasn’t there today.

It hit me: he’s getting older and it’s starting to show. And then I wondered whether he was thinking the same about me.

That awkward feeling when…

… you think you might be starting to have feelings for someone who has always just been a friend.

This has happened to me so many times and has never ended well. But isn’t it inevitable, when you’re really good friends with someone? (I was going to say ‘with someone of the opposite sex’ but didn’t want to be prescriptive – although in my case, I am referring to guy friends.)

It’s quite exciting – suddenly being hyper-aware of someone you’ve until that point been very comfortable around. The person who’s always supportive, who you speak to often on the phone, who others say ‘Oooh he’s lovely’ and you respond with ‘Isn’t he? He’s like my big brother.’ The person your concerned relatives as you about, with thinly veiled hope that perhaps the scales will someday fall from both your eyes and a big fat white wedding will result.

But it’s also awful. Suddenly you’re awkward around your best buddy. You wonder if he can sense that something has changed for you. Then the despair that it’s one-sided… or the double-edged exciting possibility that maybe he feels it too – but what if taking things to a new level blow up in your face, and you end up losing a friend you adore.

Do you think a man and a woman, both single, can be ‘just friends’? And here I mean someone you’ve been friends with for years and years, not a new friend. Does attraction always come into play – from one side, or the other? Is it possible to have been friends with someone for a long time and suddenly see them differently? And can we really be truly platonic?

Coping on your own

A good friend has recently lost her husband after over 30 years of marriage. Before they were married, she lived at home. She has never lived on her own and now she has to adjust to it. That’s a HUGE adjustment. Not only is she dealing with her intense grief, and the trauma and sadness of her husband’s illness, but she is alone for the first time in her life.

Her sons are a huge support, and she has many family members and friends who are there for her. But they’re not there at 2am when she has an anxiety attack, or when she could really do with a hand with unpacking her groceries… or the thousands of other little things she’s so used to having her husband alongside her for.

My heart really goes out to her. Much as I love being single, it’s not something she has chosen and it’s inappropriate for me to trot out the reasons why being single is amazing. It’s going to be a hell of a change for her. She’s going to have to be strong and brave – and I think she’s going to discover who she really is for maybe the first time in her life.

Love and hugs to you, H.

xx A