Thoughts About Loneliness and Another Embarrassing Confession
*Contains frank and open discussion of adult situations, but is in no way explicit or pornographic*
First off, I’d like to apologise for the melodramatic title of this blog entry. It’s also pretty pretentious, given that it’s a quote from Mother Teresa. I guess I thought it would be a good title as it’s her description of loneliness, and when you consider the extreme poverty and misery she bore witness to, you realise how awful and insurmountable loneliness can feel.
I guess when most people think about loneliness they first think about being alone, or not being around other people. I think loneliness is more than that, it can be like an emptiness within that leaves you feeling broken and unable to reach out to others. You feel wrong and undesirable, and you can’t imagine it getting any better.
I think loneliness is more than not having friends as well. I’ve always had friends, but I’ve never really had to work at making a friendship, and because of this basically can’t be bothered, or don’t know how, or am scared I’m unable to form any real sort of bond, rather than just being able to be likeable or entertaining. I don’t really have any friends at the moment, although I guess I get on well with everyone in my flat. I suppose I figured that if I wanted to befriend anyone in the flat I could theoretically do it fairly easily, and therefore haven’t bothered making the effort. And I guess that’s the core of my loneliness, I’m not so much worried about being alone at the moment, because I can handle that pretty well, but I guess I am scared about growing up alone.
I suppose part of it is the way we grow up; we move from primary school to secondary school to sixth form to university to work, and along the way we make friends and discard them as circumstances change. For me each transition was a change in location as well as social circles, so I just moved from one to the other, severing the last. I guess most of my old friends are online and I could contact them pretty easily, but that seems such a cold, trivial and ultimately pointless form of communication. I guess I tried the whole Instant Messaging and Facebook thing, but it all seemed so cold and shallow, and I always had new friends to talk to, live and in person. Now the guy in the flat I’m closest to would rather text me than walk down the hallway and knock on my door.
I suppose most people ultimately look for a girlfriend/boyfriend to make things easier. I guess that’s an option that I don’t really feel ready for yet. I’ve never had a girlfriend, a date, a kiss, a Valentine’s card, anything. I certainly haven’t had sex; I can’t even watch porn without feeling queasy. I guess I have something of a fear of physical closeness, or something, that just keeps me from looking for anything like that. I guess I like the idea of being emotionally close to someone, it’s just the physical stuff that’s associated with long term relationships that puts me off looking for one. I guess my ideal partner would basically be a really good friend I could be honest with, without any nudity or touching or whatever, and I guess it seems easier to be alone than to conduct some fruitless search for someone else who wants intimacy and not contact.
I guess this can all be traced back to one particularly unpleasant childhood experience (can’t everything?), which I’ve shared with my University Counsellor, and which I guess I bought up to my parents once, when I was sixteen, under pretty embarrassing circumstances that I’m not going to share now. I know that this makes two horrible/embarrassing confessional blogs in a row, but I guess experiences of this nature (heartbreakingly, often to a much worse degree) are fairly common amongst people with depression, and especially amongst those that self-harm. Not that I do, but I have.
I guess I was probably around six years old, maybe a year or so either way. I was with my family on holiday, staying in a Travelodge. If you’ve been in a Travelodge or similar, you’ll know there’s one double bed and there’s a sofa where the back comes off and you pull a cover off the seat and it’s a mattress, so you sleep on that and you’re level with the bed. Then there’s a mattress basically on floor level, that you wheel out on it’s own frame to another part of the room, and you can sleep on that basically an inch off the floor. So my parents were in the main bed, I was on the couch-bed and my brother was on the floor round the corner. And I guess what I’m basically saying is that one morning I woke up to the sight and sound of my parents fucking.
That’s basically it, but I guess it had a crazy disproportionate effect on my life. In my defence, I was young, and had just woken up, first thing in the morning, and I guess I sort of understood and sort of didn’t, I just remember feeling a huge sense of panic and keeping my eyes closed and waiting for it to be over and not knowing what to do. Even writing now I’m getting embarrassed, and my throat’s going all dry. My parents finished, and my dad made them each a cup of tea (!) and I didn’t say anything to anyone about it for about ten years, and after that another five, and then now. I don’t know what, but I’m hoping that someone will get something out of me sharing this story, maybe even me!
I guess it affected me pretty hard. I was always the kid who would faint in sex education classes. I definitely fainted the first time some older kid explained what sex was to me, in the middle of the road at the end of our cul-de-sac. That was pretty scary. I guess because of this I was given the sex ed. video to take home and watch before we learnt it in school, and that definitely made me feel queasy. I think I probably fainted watching it, and I definitely remember crying. I also remember my Mum finding it funny to wind the tape back after the woman gave birth, so the doctor pushed the baby back in. Thanks, Mum. Hilarious! I think I still fainted watching it (forward) in school, this being year 5. I fainted again learning it again in year 7, and I remember being asked if I was OK by the teacher explaining STDs and contraception in year 10, and then again by the outsider who came into my sixth form to cover the same stuff and demonstrate how to use a condom properly. So yeah, pretty embarrassing on a fairly regular basis. The last time I think I actually fainted due to sex was in my second year, watching Jennifer Connelly forced into a lewd act in Requiem For A Dream. I experienced the same feeling again was around May of last year, reading a particularly graphic scene in Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke. I remember closing the book and lying down with my legs up in the air. It’s not exactly original to say that our society bombards us with sex, and that we’re bombarded with messages and imagery every day, but I guess I’m OK except with the graphic or the clinical; when I visit the University Medical Centre I have to sit with my back to the display on Safe Sex, with adverts spreading awareness and what-not.
I guess as well as impairing my ability to learn about sex it also restricted my ability to, y’know, have any. I was nearly seventeen before I first masturbated, which I guess is a lot later than you’d expect (I’d guess the average for guys is between 11 and 14, not that I’ve done any hard research) and, without getting too graphic, years after when I was physically developed enough to do so. I guess I do it fairly regularly now, but I’ve never been able to get myself ready by holding my dick directly, I’ve always had to wrap it in some old pyjama bottoms or whatever. The idea of doing it with someone else seems pretty horrific, and I can’t even watch anything too intimate or explicit on a computer screen, so in real life it would probably freak me right out. I think I’d faint.
So I guess that’s what my deal is, and why I don’t really see myself settling down any time soon. It’s not all bad, I can talk to people well and can simulate normalcy and interest in other people. I get on OK with my family, and I care a lot about them, but I guess we’re not really that close, in as much as I don’t really talk openly or often with anyone from my family. I guess they’re my only true constant in life, and the one thing that stops me from complete overwhelming loneliness. For example, I’ve thought a lot about suicide, but never with a view to actually attempting it, as I know I could never do it with my parents alive.
At the end of the day, I guess we all feel lonely for a bunch of reasons, but if you’ve come to this site there’s a good chance you’ve felt it quite strongly, and I can empathise with that. There’s also a chance you’ve had an experience comparable to mine, or worse, and if that’s the case my heart truly goes out to you. I’d never call what happened to me abuse, but I suppose it was irresponsible and feels related, like it’s the lazy slacker step-child of genuine abuse. If you do feel lonely and you’re looking for inspiration, the only consolation I can offer is that it’s not hard to surround yourself with people, to feel like you’re needed or that you belong, whether it’s going out to a concert, volunteering at a charity shop or singing along to a favourite song. I always feel a part of something if I listen to Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds, especially at the end of The Breakfast Club when Judd Nelson sticks his arm in the air. So I guess that’s something.
Anyway, I’ve shared enough of myself for now, and I think I’m going to have a lie down. I hope you have a great week, and do something to make yourself feel better.