**I have been gone for a while, but now I am back to blogging! Thanks for anyone who stuck with me.**
I read an interesting string of comments on Quora (www.quora.com) the other day. It asked commenters to describe what loneliness felt like to them personally. The answers were astounding and I could see myself, at least a little bit, in every response.
I am an unusual case because I have been lonely all my life, starting in elementary school. It wasn’t just an isolated event — I didn’t move to a new town, get too busy, ignore friends I already had, or have a major life change…I NEVER had friends. That’s what separated me from many of the posters on the site.
I was a weird kid with an unstable home. Even at that age, kids knew something was off and didn’t want anything to do with me. I wasn’t invited to parties; I was brazenly excluded; I was bullied every day; I had no where to go after school and no one to hang out with. My nights were absorbed with reading, watching TV, or being outside. It didn’t bother me at first, but I began to catch on: There must be something wrong with me. It never occurred to me before, but I started noticing, rather starkly, that I was an outsider.
After a while I began to internalize these conflicts.
• I am not worthy of friendship.
• No one likes me.
• If I somehow manage to befriend someone, they will leave me soon enough. I will mess it up like I have before.
• I will always be strange and awkward around people.
• I will be lonely all my life.
Yes, I know this is self-absorbed, catastrophic thinking. But as a child, it’s easy to think everything is your fault — especially if your parents told you so. Even though I am grown, I have never been able to break out of this pattern of hopelessness, despair, and loneliness. I have tried medication, dozens of doctors and counselors, church and church groups, and even a mental hospital. Nothing seems to work. I am so consumed with self-hatred that some days my body aches to die just to stop feeling the pain. I shut down. I am paralyzed, left without passion or drive for anything or anyone.
When I think of living the next 30-40 years, I can only feel weary. Is this it? Can I really survive that much more time alone? Can I really handle hundreds, maybe thousands more, of rejections from people? I can actually SEE the very instant someone writes me off. It’s a very particular look that comes across their face, It breaks my heart every time.
My adult social like consists of calls screened; texts unanswered; no one responding to invites; canceling last minute; and lip service about spending time together without ever reaching out. I just assume people won’t like me and I try not to let it bother me if I am left out, not invited or thought of, etc.
Do I need to learn to love myself first before I can develop friendships? Well, duh. By problem is how can I respect myself if no one else does? I feel like it’s trying to work in a void or black hole; it’s a vicious cycle.
Yes, I try to keep busy, develop new hobbies, and do a lot of volunteer work. It’s only a distraction. The tidal wave always comes back, sucking me to the bottom, leaving me with little energy or hope to escape. Does anyone else know what I am talking about?