I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering ad dancing in the breeze
Loneliness can be a curse and can easily happen to anyone, possibly more in today’s environment when people are so busy rushing hither and thither with work commitments, social commitments and no time for anyone.
It is a state of disconnect, a time when you feel quite sad and, if left to fester, loneliness can lead to depression. It can happen in the winter when people spend more time indoors, it can happen when a loved one has passes away or just goes away. Many women feel a sense of loneliness when their kids leave home and they find themselves without a purpose.
What do we do when we’re lonely? This is the real question.
Some people cling on to whomever they can. I see lots of women fulfilling this need, the need to be needed, by making themselves too available for babysitting and over-giving to their children like Sam and Sally.
Sam and Sally are in their 60s and drive a long distance to work in a factory just so they can give money to their children. While there is nothing wrong with giving money to your children, it is important to consider whose needs are being fulfilled. Sometimes by over-helping, the effect is to stifle the growth of the children and take away their drive to achieve their full potential and thus do them a dis-service. This is not unlike the person who helped a butterfly come out of its cacoon by peeling away the layers to free it. The butterfly needs to fight its way out of the cacoon so its wings are fully developed and it can fly and look beautiful.
Loneliness can also happen when a new partner comes on the scene and there is a rift between the parent and her children: she initially spends a lot of time with the new partner and the children suffer a disconnect, then something happens with the new partner and he’s gone, leaving the parent disconnected from everyone.
Loneliness can happen inside a relationship when each person becomes so involved in their own stuff they forget about the other person, they just don’t have the time to chat and really connect, they stop doing those little things that say “I love you”.
Loneliness is not being alone. There is a massive difference. Someone can live in the most crowded city on earth and still be lonely. Being alone, for some people, is a time when they re-charge their batteries, a time to be still and soak up the silence, a time to just be.
Loneliness is a destructive state of mind and can lead to depression and more: a time when people become disconnected and lose their sense of purpose. When this happens people do different things: some people become very needy and hang on to others, almost suffocating them and taking them over with the result they push away the very people with whom they want to connect. Some people behave in ways that put others off; they are needy in other ways like having to attract undue attention to themselves in a way that turns people away from them. This could be by having to be the first person to grab something, whether it be the front seat or a jar of jam, a piece of cake, they may insist on having to watch a particular program on the TV and when they don’t get their way, they throw a “wobbly” like a two year old. It could be they become pushy by having to grab an item at a sale while not really needing the item, they just need to be first, they may become an alcoholic and make a spectacle of themselves at a party, or perhaps an illicit drug is their preference.
Whatever they do, they are doing it to say “Hey, look at me, what about me”, just like Sarah. Now Sarah has a chronic illness and while she has certain needs that have to be met, she is a lonely old lady. One of the things she did was to ring people late at night on the phone just to talk with them. Some of these people were busy people who need their sleep and while they understood her need to connect, they really didn’t take too kindly to being disturbed at midnight.
Then there was Michelle who always has to talk very loudly, always has to know everyone’s private business and is totally focussed on Michelle. She will often demand to know something that is none of her business and will ask a question in a very loud voice when there are other people around putting the other person on the spot.
The actions lonely people take tend to push the very people who are important to them away and thus increase their loneliness.
One of my old neighbours was a really a really lovely person and a bit of a surrogate mum to a number of people however she was also very lonely. Her husband was a bit older than she was and had begun to show signs of dementia, her children had grown and were busy with their own lives and this lady just loved to chat. That’s fine; however, in her chatting she would unconsciously reveal other people’s private business – well if that doesn’t put you on guard!! Her actions were unconscious and while she meant well with her chat, she pushed people away. Sadly she has now gone totally within and sits in a chair with her in a nursing home just waiting for God.
We hear on the media how various types of dementia are on the increase. While some of this may be attributed to various causes such an environment, food additives, etc., loneliness and loss of purpose cannot be discounted.
Five Tips to Overcome Loneliness Right Now
- Join a club or organisation where you can meet like-minded people and enjoy various activities. The U3A (University of the Third Age) is one such organisation.
- Get Started and Get Active – this will get you out and about, increase your blood flow and oxygenate your brain. Activities could include a walking group. There are plenty around. Recently I was at a birthday party where the guest of honour said she was so glad she formed the group because she never dreamt she would have so many friends to celebrate with.
- Make the first move. Remember your friends. One of the strategies I do is to circulate round my friends and make a point of catching up at least once a year – birthdays are a good time. I subscribe to Birthday Alarm www.birthdayalarm.com and they send an email a couple of days before so I can either send a card and/or make a time for a lunch catch-up. This lets the other person know you are thinking of them and opens the door for the friendship to be enhanced
- Become a Volunteer. This is an excellent way of giving back to community and allows you the opportunity to give the most precious gift of all – your time.
Love to hear your views.