Letting Loneliness Happen

It's ComplicatedLately I’ve been getting lonely during my solo weekends and it bugs me. It leaves me prone to self-pity. It makes me think about how much I wish I had a person to talk to, either a friend or more. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of friends, but I don’t have that one that is the person I call when I need to talk, someone I could talk to every single night to rehash the small and the large. It is one of the hardest things about splitting up.

The thing is, though, that I haven’t had that person in a long time. Much longer than the year that I’ve been on my own. For the first half of my relationship with my ex, he was that person for me. And after that it tapered off slowly until I had very little opportunity to let him into my life anymore. 

Which made me wonder why I feel the loneliness so much more acutely now even though I’ve been without a person for a few years. Why didn’t I feel it when I was married but didn’t have a confidant? And why did it take so many months after the split for this feeling to kick in?

Ultimately I think it comes down to the way one feeling can take over and consume you. For the last year or two of my marriage I was consumed with frustration and anger and rejection. Those feelings are so much stronger than loneliness, they run hot and loud. Loneliness, though, tends to be a quieter emotion, one that you find when everything else fades away.

And it was something similar after ending things. I was finding so much freedom and release from so much negativity that I was able to let those feelings just take over for a while. Now as things become routine, as my busy months settle down into more free time, my brain has some room to stretch out and think and loneliness comes creeping in.

This isn’t an emotion I’m unfamiliar with, but it has been a while since it’s hit me this way. On the plus side, my days with the kids are busy and full and I rarely have time to consider my lot before I collapse for the night. But days alone are a different story. The last time loneliness was my companion it was much more constant, it was in my mind every day. It lasted a couple years and ended when I met my former husband. I had work, but no real social life. I lived alone much of that time and had few friends. I was mostly in places where I didn’t have anything approaching a community or a social circle. 

It’s so much better now. A couple of days of loneliness at a time is manageable and it gives me the chance to stop and think about how good I have it. It lets me think about how much I prefer this quiet loneliness to all that loud frustration and anger that consumed me for so long. I get to take breaks from it. I often find my spare time littered with dates and outings and activities and errands, sometimes I have to force myself to take a break and find some time to decompress. But sometimes it goes the other way and the days just open up in front of me looking empty and quiet and that’s when that annoying loneliness creeps in.

For now I’m just going to work on balancing the busy with the quiet and not fight the loneliness too hard. I am prone to it, fighting it will only leave me exhausted. I’m just going to let it have its day, let it give me a bit of the blues from time to time, and then let it pass.



  1. Elizabeth says

    It’s pretty rare that something or someone pops into my head and I stop what I am doing and steer my attn that way (it usually ends up on my to do list). But you just popped into my head and I wanted to swing by to holler at you.

    Loneliness is both extremely familiar and a total stranger to me. For me, I attached a lot of stigma and shame to the feeling of loneliness, so for a very long time, I called it other things. It was easy to get confused because I felt those other things too- things like anger and sadness and bitterness.

    Until I got married almost 7 years ago, I felt lonely whether I was in a relationship or not. When I was IN a relationship, I felt lonely because I knew that other person would never “get” me and the special meaning that any experience had for me. When I was OUT of a relationship, I was lonely because I didn’t have many girlfriends and being a single parent can be so isolating (even on the days you don’t have your kid).

    When I got married, I still felt lonely, but by then, it was because I was too afraid to become attached to anyone. I’ve had to unlearn that behavior. Okay, I’m still unlearning it, but I like to give myself a lot of credit first and then try to do the thing i’ve already taken credit for.

    Im so glad I started blogging. It got me friends. Wow, that sounds so stupid, but I’m fine with sounding stupid as long as I can have my homegirls. It doesn’t matter where we live because we’re still connected and a part of each other’s lives. Holler at me sometime, homegirl.

    • says

      I’m so glad you swung by to holler. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things and one of them is from our conversation. A post is brewing, it’ll be up soon, I think.

      Also, I had one of those moments where I realized that I saw you read at VOTY in 2012 and never made the connection that it was you.

      I will be hollering at you all the time.

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