Loneliness

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I was planning to start this essay, the topic being “loneliness,” by saying, “of course I get lonesome for family and friends, but I don’t suffer from loneliness.”

“Loneliness” is, after all, a sad feeling of isolation. “Lonesome,” I thought, is just missing those people that I love. It turns out, they have the same meaning. Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. It is also described as social pain, and a state of distress or discomfort. The definition for “lonesome” is pretty much identical. Definitions read, “sad or dejected as a result of lack of companionship or separation from others,” and “depressed or sad because of the lack of friends, companionship, etc.” So, maybe I’m not lonesome, either.

My mother once said, “Of all of my kids, Cindy could live on Beaver Island; she has always been the most anti-social of all my children.” When I tell that story, which usually gets a laugh, I add that I think she meant it in the nicest possible way. She was correct in her observation, though. I spent my childhood searching for places where I could be alone, and quiet, in the midst of our large and noisy household.

I used to say that a more accurate description would be “asocial,” as I don’t feel that I need people to the same level that others seem to. Checking the dictionary, though, I see that “asocial” is defined as “avoiding social interaction; inconsiderate of or hostile to others…” which is the same as anti-social.

I do miss family and friends, but I don’t feel “sad or dejected.” I want to describe it more like a feeling of melancholy, but I’m afraid that if I went back to the dictionary, I’d find that “sad” and “melancholy” also share the same meaning. What is it, then, this life I live on Beaver Island, far away from so many of the people I love?

Well, I do miss them all: my daughters, my grandchildren, my brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, and distant friends. I sometimes wish I were a bigger presence in their lives. “Sad,” “depressed,” and “dejected” are not accurate terms, though. This is just my normal life.

When I pick up the telephone and hear the voice of a loved one, my spirit leaps with joy. I feel happy excitement at the prospect of going to visit friends or family, or of having them come here. Messages from my grandchildren always warm my heart. Photos posted to social media make me feel like I’m participating, in some small way, from this great distance, in their lives.

But I am not sad. I am not pining away for those people that I love, and don’t see regularly. There were times in my life when I felt loneliness as it is defined: when my daughters first went out on their own; immediately after the end of my marriage; likewise, when other relationships ended; and often after a death, with the finality it brings. The transition of going from having someone nearby, to not…that has been hard. But those difficult, depressed feelings don’t last forever. I’ve gotten used to being alone. Maybe my first statement was correct after all: I don’t suffer from loneliness.

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

4 responses »

  1. Cindy, you just described me. Although I live in a rural subdivision and not on a less-populated island, I am alone a lot of the time. And I think you might accurately describe us as introverts. I love being around people, but only up to a point. Then I need a few days alone to recharge my battery. You have your art and writing, and your beautiful surroundings to nourish your soul, and I have my art and my dogs and cat. It’s a perfect arrangement.

    • Yes, I think we are very similar in our dispositions, Martha, and I feel it’s a blessing to be fine with this solitary life. Thank you for reading, and for your comments. So sorry it took me so long to answer!

  2. I love how you expressed this here, Cindy. It’s a great good fortune to not NEED to be with other people. What a gift you’ve given yourself in this lifetime. I started out in the woods being very lonely–but could not decide what it was that was needed. It took many years of the spiritual journey to learn to settle down and live from the fullness of the Self rather than looking for affirmation and attention from other people. It was such a good feeling when I finally learned to just be with me. It sounds like you’ve had this capacity since you were younger.

    • Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your always positive and insightful comments. I’m sorry to have taken so long to respond! Seems like I’ve been neglecting WordPress for quite a while!

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