The Abyss of Loneliness

I have a hard time making friends…and that is a massive understatement.

I don’t know how other people do it so easily. My sister (and my husband) can walk up to a complete stranger, chat them up, and walk away knowing how many kids they have, what they’re having for dinner, and what their bad habits are. Me…I have a hard time even conversing with the person ringing up my groceries. My shopping expeditions usually go something like this:

Me: “Good morning!”

Cashier: “Good morning, how are you?”

Me: “I’m okay.  How are you?”

Cashier: “I’m doing okay.”

Silence. Thundering, embarrassing, overwhelming silence.

Cashier: “Thank you, have a nice day.”

Me: “You, too….”

What I cannot convey to these passing strangers is the aching loneliness that fills me when I walk away from such an exchange. How much it hurts to realize that even if that person recognizes me later, they usually won’t go out of their way to greet me because I didn’t give them enough of myself to find a connection with me.

It extends beyond such exchanges, of course. The world of social media has actually made it worse. It is terribly depressing to log into Facebook and see 250 acquaintances, and realize that there is only one person on that list (outside my family) who could show up at my door with no warning without sending me into an immediate and world-shattering panic! Everyone else…I know of them. They know of me. I know some of them follow what I do and truly care, but I am terrified to break the ice and speak to them beyond the random exchanges that happen about cat memes and political videos.

E thinks the solution to my loneliness is to “go out and meet people” and he gets very frustrated (even angry) when I try to explain that that isn’t going to solve the problem. It never has, it never will. I think seeing me struggle to interact with the other parents in our birthing class has shown him that it really isn’t that simple for me, but still we get into angry spats about it.  Trust me, my love: I WANT to go out and meet people. However, I am scared…so scared that sometimes I literally curl up in a corner and cry just thinking about it. When faced with a social situation I usually feel like a four or five year old again, sitting in the corner with my thumb in my mouth, ashamed of the marker all over my face. It’s hard to approach adults on equal footing when you feel like a child. There have been so many times when a person I would like as a friend has asked if we could hang out, and even though I have desperately wanted to say “yes”, I have made up an excuse –no matter how flimsy- and stayed home.  Why? Because I’m afraid….of rejection, of inevitable gossip, of making a fool of myself … the list goes on.

It took me a very long time to acknowledge that what I am experiencing is not a temporary issue. I always thought I was just shy, or that I was trying to be friends with the wrong people. “When I’m older and can go out by myself, it will get better,” was one of my favorite mantras when I was a teenager. I blamed it on the fact that I was homeschooled for a while- but my brother and both of my younger sisters were also homeschooled, and they have no issues with social settings (quite the opposite, actually). Then I tried to find contentment in the idea of being an introvert. “I like my alone time,” I told my mother one time, and she nodded understanding. The truth I have never admitted before is:  I don’t. I actually really enjoy having company, but I’m scared of seeking it out. Most of my hobbies and skills are solitary, it’s true…but I like to have company while I do them. When I am alone the silence roars around me like a howling wind, and I know if it sucks me into the void no one will even notice I am gone.

I’m going to be 28 in a little less than 3 months. I am having some life problems that I can’t write about here that would be so much easier to field if I had some girlfriends…but I am terrified of talking to anyone but my mother about it. I am also expecting a baby in six weeks- that baby is going to grow into a child, and that child will want friends that I don’t know how to find for him.  I want to home school him, but is it fair to do something that will inevitably stymie his social growth, given my won personal issues?

The anxiety I feel is debilitating. The loneliness is crippling. The empty hours of silence when other people would have someone to laugh with are horrifying. I am humiliated by my inability to fill a pause in a conversation without seeming too loud, or awkward, or downright rude.  Why do some people seem to always know exactly what to say? Why can’t I be one of them? What is wrong with me?

My loneliness has gotten so bad that I have decided to seek professional assistance in overcoming it…but I can’t afford that right now so I have to weather a little longer without it. If I’ve made it this long, surely I can wait a few months, right? I just have to cling tight and find joy in the small things as I always have.

Having difficulty finding cheer today, but it has to be there somewhere…

M

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3 thoughts on “The Abyss of Loneliness

  1. I am crying right now because I know exactly how you feel. You say I can do these things so easily but… No. I live in terror of human interaction, I feel like a loud mouth fool constantly, and I live in eternal horror of the day everyone will see my skin peeled back and see how stupid, ugly, and naked I am. Your words echo with my experience to the letter, I can’t even type right now because I am shaking and crying and cant see the key board. My whole being is screaming to me “ERASE THIS! Don’t tip your hand, don’t let your poker face slip… THEY WILL ALL KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE SO CAREFULLY HIDDEN IN YOUR SAD AND PATHETIC BROKEN HEART FOR SO LONG!” …they will eat me, they will laugh at me, they will break me! I scream to myself, panic will rip through me when I post this, I will want to hide under a rock forever. YOU my beautiful, powerful sister… YOU ARE SO BRAVE! you have inspired me to spill my hurt, rotten guts to whoever my read this in hopes that they will feel the way I did when I read your words… You are the one brave voice in the pitch blackness of everyone’s dark night of the soul that dares, DARES to scream, dares to question…NO! Dares to challenge this terrible feeling inside you and strive for better. You are the one who would climb to the top of the mountain and embrace the sun. and you are the one the sun will never burn because you fear it not. you who say you are so small and so insignificant are the one who would draw a line in the sand and dare the very GODS to cross it and tell you…”WHY?” You are power. You are change. You are the giver of life. The great farce of this all, is that the people you envy for their able tongues and ready smiles are so wrapped up in keeping their masks on that they never feel the loss or sadness in their lives that you do. they never question, never think… they just preform the predestined little play of their life. they say the lines they act the parts… then they die. ALONE. you, however. you were given no script, given no parts because you of such a caliber and such an intellect that you require none. You are the script writer, you write the play, you make the props…you are a rare and precious Gift to this world, and this world needs you and your raw honesty more than you know, never doubt it. I am proud to say I am your brother! I love you SO much!

    • Everything you have written here rings so true…. I am sad that this world is so unfriendly to the outsiders that we hide even from each other…even when we grow up together.

      I love you. <3

  2. Sweet, sweet woman! How your words made me weep at the weight if their sadness.
    I wish I was there to wrap you in the warmest softest blanket, feed you cocoa, smooth the hair from your face.

    You are so amazing to me! Strong, focused, funny, incredibly talented, keenly intelligent. So much heart inside. Your courage is extraordinary …to tell this story- it would terrify me to be so candid about how afraid I am of the humans around me. How hard it is to get up and face them all like I know what I’m doing. How afraid I am of suddenly being called out as a fraud, a loudmouth, a fool.
    I admire your candor.

    Don’t you worry about that baby, just
    love, love, love him… And yourself. Motherhood has a funny way of finding a way.

    You will find your path, your way, your peace with yourself. And the helping hands you want. Keeping searching, asking, talking about it…

    I love you, dear sister mine.

    -Venice

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