Loneliness feels awful, doesn’t it?
Because loneliness is uncomfortable and distressing, we rarely admit to other people when we’re experiencing it. We can also carry a belief that as queer humans in a hetero-normative world, loneliness is simply a part of life and that’s never going to change, so why bother?
This silence does little more than feed and deepen your loneliness.
You numb, distract and avoid the thoughts and feelings – even to your detriment. You may throw yourself into your work, but all the money and accolades feel meaningless after a while. You may arrange another hook-up, hoping that the tender embrace of another naked human will help you feel something. You throw yourself into exercise, but all the distance you run or the weights you lift are never enough. You may find yourself trying to find comfort and connection in the bottom of another bottle of wine, snorting another line or taking another pill to help you get out of your head and have fun.
You may decide to take ANOTHER trip in the hope that you’ll find yourself somewhere. Or you buy one more thing to show how cool you are and hope that you feel accepted when others appreciate your purchase.
You get my point. There are millions of ways that you can use to try and distract yourself from the common thoughts of feelings of loneliness. Thoughts such as never feeling that you fit in or trying to prove that you’re good enough or dial yourself down so you’re not too much.
No matter which way you choose to numb, distract and avoid, when you lay your head down on the pillow or let your mind wander in the shower, your loneliness is still right there with you. You resolve to try harder to shake them free.
It’s a horrible feeling, isn’t it? I know it was for me. I spent years trying to avoid my loneliness through throwing myself into work and trying to be the image of physical, mental, emotional and social perfection I thought I needed to be to feel accepted and that I belonged.
The constant effort needed to maintain the façade exhausted me, but I was terrified of what would happen if I stopped. I kept pushing through because I didn’t know any other way of coping. I thought that the people in my life would leave me when they found out my secrets, including that I was attracted to men while in a heterosexual marriage where we had two children.
My loneliness seemed like the price I had to pay to be loved and accepted. That’s a heavy statement, isn’t it? I suspect that you understand what that means.
I decided to get help when I realised that my loneliness was leading me to dark places. That help involved me learning more about myself and then, with time and support, beginning the courageous process of being myself. This was not a fun, quick or painless experience, but it was far better than I feared it would be. I went from avoidance and feeling numb to feeling alive. I now feel more connected to who I am and have the courage to show up in the world as me.
Part of the evolution of me has been recognising that there was very little support for people experiencing loneliness in a way that tackled loneliness directly. So I’ve created the services and support I needed when learning from my loneliness.
I know this to be true from my work and my experience: your loneliness does not mean that you’re broken, it means that you’re human.
Loneliness performs an important evolutionary role within you, a role akin to thirst and hunger in terms of your survival.
In a similar way to thirst telling you to hydrate and hunger telling you to eat, loneliness is your body’s way of telling you that you’re missing some connection that you need.
You’re not only exhausting yourself by denying and avoiding your loneliness, you’re avoiding your body’s only way of telling you what kind of connection you need.
Your loneliness doesn’t mean you’re broken and unworthy of love and belonging. It’s your body’s way of reminding you that you’re human and are worthy of being seen, heard and feeling that you belong.
For all of that, don’t you wish that our bodies had evolved a more pleasant way of giving us this message?
I’m here to tell you that the connection and feelings of belonging that you’ve been wanting all your life are waiting for you on the other side of your loneliness.
Perhaps it’s now time to own your loneliness and listen to what it’s telling you. I’m here for that.