This post is by Kacha of Food.for.Thoughts, Life and its ways.
If you suffer from loneliness, you’re not alone.
‘We are born alone and we will die alone’, I have to tell it like it is. It is difficult to bear but a burden shared is half a burden. On the other hand we are in need of human connection. A balance of enjoying alone-time and to be able to share time with others. To know other people, talk to them, understand them, to feel that they care makes me feel safe. It makes my mind to be able to relax. To live only inside of my own head – a wonderful creation as it may be – can be lonely.
Loneliness makes me withdraw into more negative thinking. It’s easier to laugh about problems when you’re with somebody. When I got my hands on the internet I jumped on it. I can connect with people all around the globe, I can choose my friends, yes those people who talk about things that resonate with me. The internet connection is very valuable for me, it gives me joy when it can exist next to connection in real life. I can feel that need now.
A real connection for me happens when you’re able to be honest with yourself and with others for example about your passions. Of course I could talk to my colleagues at work about the workload and how I spend my weekend but there was no real connection, there was no shared passion. When you connect with someone, you feel at ease, like when you’re at home. You are allowed to feel and say what goes on in your life. You can take the time needed to explain. It’s so important – I realize now – and it went out of the window so quickly. Work became far more important. I lived in a paradox, my job became the solution for loneliness and at the same time it drove me more into isolation. This contributed to me having a burnout.
I am so afraid to be hurt again and to lose connection again that I sometimes refrain from people. I’m afraid to do or say something wrong that will drive them away. So I overdo it, I am too sweet. And I know it. It’s good to be nice but it’s not good when it’s driven by anxiety. To seek validation only from outside and lose yourself in the process is what happened. I tried to do the good thing but due to lack of a real connection it left me with no value of return. It left me on empty.
Is it bad to feel lonely?
What I didn’t know is that loneliness is harmful to your body . It makes us more vulnerable to diseases, depression can stem from it. Loneliness can lead to an early grave, like smoking or diabetes. Depression on the other hand robs me of energy, gives me less of mental capacity to listen or to connect with others. It is like living under a dark blanket. It feels safe but uncomfortable at the same time.
Loneliness is painful. I feel it my gut and in my mind. I can go crazy, sad and anxious, when I feel utterly lonely. It’s in a chronic state now, the foundation was laid many years ago. I used to really enjoy my freedom of living alone, being by myself and just be goofy. But is that really so? Is loneliness an imperative for true freedom or is it an illusion? Will I be protecting myself forever behind my big emotional wall or will I jump over it, to a possible not so gentle fall?
But wait, what are we actually talking about?
Loneliness is subjective, there is no tool to measure it. So, when we feel lonely, we are. Now that I am aware of my loneliness, is it just me? Are other people more connected due to better developed social skills? Loneliness is a feeling as we stated before; it means that the connections you have are not (sufficient) enough for your needs. It’s not about social skills or social media.
Loneliness is a feeling, not just ‘a thought’ to shake off. It really is, it’s not some romantic feeling from the 19th century. I learned that the feeling of loneliness is a signal from the brain and not your emo teenager who lives somewhere in you. It is a signal we can understand as the feeling of hunger that makes you look for food. When we feel lonely it’s a signal we should take action to protect our social body. It signals a need that is not being met.
This knowledge makes me more brave to reach out to people. I can’t deny myself something as important as food. I don’t feel it yet but I understand. I will take the step to open my eyes, heart and mind to others. To step out of my own shadow and to reach out. No matter the consequences. It is needed for my own personal survival although it scares the living hell out of me. All things have their time and place.
Have you ever felt lonely? Do you feel like it is more difficult to connect with others due to mental struggles? How do you balance the need for having me-time and to mingle with others?
You can find Kacha on her blog Food.for.Thoughts, Life and its ways.
There’s a follow-up to this post on Kacha’s post, which you can read here: https://journeythroughlife591163021.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/is-there-an-antidote-to-loneliness/
 Odds ratio for dying earlier: loneliness 40% more chance of an early death compared to: excessive drinking +30%; obesity +20%, air pollution +5%