I’m rarely lonely when alone.
I’m often lonely around other people.
It’s the connection. It’s the lack.
I feel disconnected from the people around me, even when they’re family and friends. It’s like I’m surrounded by a bubble that prevents me from reaching and being reached. It’s like we function on parallel but different, non-intersecting planes.
Most of the time, when I start to feel this way, I make my excuses and leave. Yet permanently abandoning interactions with other people is not much of a solution. Much as I like spending time with myself, I’m not yet a hermit. And a surfeit of alone time can be unhealthy. *
We’re wired for community.
We need other people. We need to connect. When I’m alone and separate from others for too long, I start to feel not right in my skin. I start to feel not right in my soul.
It’s worse when I’m depressed. I feel even more disconnected, even more separate. I need what I feel constrained against gaining all the more.
One way to break the perceived barrier would be to speak up. It’s what friends, family, and therapists tell me to do.
I need help. I feel lonely. My thoughts scare me at times.
We need connection and yet, to me, it feels risky and fraught with danger.
My willingness to take risks is inversely proportionate to the potentially negative consequences. My head amplifies the possible negativity until sharing as a way forward seems impossible.
Why is the right course of action so often the one we prefer to avoid? Children reject green vegetables as a matter of course, despite their proven health benefits. Why are we so contrarily opposed to the demands of the human condition?
Connection is vulnerability. Vulnerability feels like risk. Risk feels like a threat, and threats are things we prefer to avoid. Attempting to connect requires that we open up and expose the soft spots. I don’t like to do that.
The idea of sharing my truth brings up boatloads of fear, despite it not being life-threatening. The threat is imaginary, perceptual. My logical brain reminds me of this truth. My logical brain tells me to be courageous and proceed.
My instincts tell me to hunker down.
I end up dancing on the deck on a summer evening, surrounded by people I love, surrounded by people who love me, feeling desperately alone.
* No Man is an Island. John Donne. Poetry. 1694.