We hear of many people being lonely these days and it is the saddest thing to hear. But the truth is there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. It’s not always a case of whether you are alone or live a crazy life full of people. I know people who have felt loneliness even in a loving marriage.
I have been lucky in my life to have met many people and many of these people have been alone but never lonely. As we have chatted about their lives and interests it has become clear to me that these people have a special gift. They enjoy their own company and are never bored. Ever.
I am proud to say that I, myself, fall into that category and I am better off for it. However a few years ago I received a jolt to my way of thinking.
Just over two years ago I split up with someone who I loved very much. Despite our differences there was love there and the decision was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. We remain friends. However as I reflected on our lives together, I came to realise that unlike my partner, I never felt alone. I could go days and indeed weeks, in my own company and still be happy, never lonely, never bored. I truly believe it is a special gift to have. As for my partner, he felt loneliness from the minute I met him and openly told me so. He could not keep himself content. He lived in Los Angeles at the time and he would tell me how lonely he was. I felt his sadness and in some ways, my wanting to comfort him, brought us together. Not really the best of reasons to form a life partnership.
For me, from a young age, I would sit contented in the garden, either colouring in, rolling marbles, singing to myself or playing the recorder. I could while away the hours and never feel lonely.
However, strangely, when I split from my ex I found myself, really struggling and I came to understand what lonely really feels like, for a short time. I was in Lymington, on my own, and I would spend many weekends not seeing a soul. I had enforced this on myself as I had healing to do. That’s when, for me, the true spiritual side to Facebook resonated. I had no need to feel lonely, I had my Facebook buddies. And thus my love affair with social media was born. Even watching a TV programme, I knew that if I posted a comment, within minutes my friends would comment back, showing that they, too, were as lonely as me and were only too happy to respond. It gave me real comfort.
I also found that @bbcradio1 made me feel included as the upbeat presenters put a positive spin on everything and the upbeat music put a smile on my face. To be truthful, I’m not sure how I would have managed had I not had music to lift me. However I knew that this lonely phase was a minor blip and I would find the strength to return to my normal state of mind.
I always have so much to think about but not only that I constantly find ways to fill my time, not necessarily involving others. It is so empowering. I am happy to beach walk on my own, to picnic on my own, to go to the cinema on my own, even to go shopping on my own. In fact given my newfound love of being silent, not being with people is restful and I have no need to be surrounded by others. That does not mean I do not love people because, on the whole, I do. It’s just having space and ME time keeps me grounded. It also gives me time to live in the moment and appreciate my surroundings to their fullest.
I believe that over and above everything else, the trick to being alone and not feeling lonely is to love yourself. Once I was struggling to not feel lonely and ran around making friends like a crazy fool addicted to social media. Four years on, things are different and I now have a newfound love of being alone.
Apart from anything else being alone has its benefits. You can be really naughty and no one will ever find out! 🙂