deep loneliness runs through me like a river
I feel deep loneliness at the core of my being. It’s part of me. It runs through me and my life like a river. I observe it and know it more intimately as I grow older. With knowing, I’m learning that loneliness is not necessarily “such a sad affair,” words famously coined by The Carpenters in their 1971 hit song Superstar.
Loneliness is neither worse, nor better, than happiness (which I also feel at the core of my being). Some people say we choose our feelings. Others say our feelings choose us. Maybe both are right. I believe loneliness, like happiness, just is. I spend a lot of time alone. I always have. Partly due to circumstance, partly because of who I am.
As a girl, adolescent and young woman, I never quite fit in. I was painfully shy and had few friends. I longed to be part of the group, but seemed never to be included. Somehow I didn’t quite belong. That brand of being alone was difficult. It still is.
Much of my work involves writing, for the most part a solitary activity. I spend hundreds of hours alone at the computer. This kind of solitude, during which one is engaged in creative pursuits, reflection, or work, can be both joyful and rewarding.
Being alone and being lonely are totally different. One can be alone without feeling lonely, and yet feel lonely when not alone, even in the midst of a crowded room or in the close proximity to someone we love. Thus loneliness, like happiness, it would seem, comes from within.
Underlying my own loneliness is a feeling of profound isolation. I struggle constantly with an overwhelming need to connect and a deep desire to be alone in my solitude. Both are vitally and equally important to me. One of the themes of my life is learning to balance and reconcile the two – in work, in play, and in relationship.
My writing, poetry, and advocacy on behalf of women and elderly people living with dementia are all parts of the reconciliation process — the results of my continuing struggle for both connection and solitude, gifts from the loneliness at my core.
Thank you Susan for this beautiful blog. You described perfectly what I often feel. I am thankful for having met you…. Don’t know when I will be next in the Townships. Will certainly let you know… If you come in to the city, I would love to have a visit with you.
Kate! It’s so great to hear from you, and thanks for your comment. I’m thankful for having met you too, and who knows when we might meet again…? I rarely go to Montréal, but if and when I do, I’ll be sure to get in touch. in the meantime, have a magical Christmas, and all the best for the new year.
I enjoyed this piece, Susan, many thanks, and can identify with lots of it. Stumbling across Buddhism and considering the shortcomings of ‘self-grasping attachment’ has been my salvation
Thanks Paul. Yep, Buddhism has some useful principles and concepts 🙂
I wonder how many of “the walking lonely” are out there? Raising my hand! (Thanks for the beautiful post)
Hey Kangaroo – just saw your comment. Nice to know you’re in my boat <3
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