Monday, January 21, 2013

The Loneliest Person in the Room

by Kate Collins

According to an article I read on Yahoo News, loneliness causes health problems of all sorts, from heart disease to high blood pressure to depression, all the way down to changes at the cellular level.  People are designed to be in communities, to socialize.  Loneliness is a signal a mind sends to tell us that we need to be with others.

Not good news for those of us who live alone.

But the article also points out that it's not necessarily those who live alone who are lonely. One can be lonely in a crowd. Ask a young college student who is away from home and friends for the first time. Ask a newly bereaved widow or widower at a funeral.

Ask many people caught in bad marriages. I was one of those a long time ago. I ached with loneliness while in the same room as my then husband. I know many of you reading this have felt this way. It wasn't until I met my Greek that I learned what a true partner and soulmate could be. I wasn't lonely when he was around.

I've recently had to make the tough decision to part ways with an acquaintance. After my husband passed on, this woman came into my life as a new friend and served as a welcome distraction from my deep grief. She had so many issues, I found myself trying to help her, which took me out of my own misery. I would discover over a year later, sadly, that she didn't really want to be helped. She wanted to be pitied and babied and given things. It got to a point where I dreaded her phone calls or visits. She was a distraction all right. Too much so. I decided that being alone and lonely was better than being in her company.

Have you ever felt lonely in a crowd? Have you ever felt lonely with another person in the same room? What was your solution?

16 comments:

  1. no advice, just a {{HUG}} and good luck wishes for parting ways.

    Oh! No guilt allowed! They'll replace you and you will feel better

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  2. I've never quite understood the need to be with people. In fact, being around people for too long makes me fidgety. I guess I'm weird! And good for you for getting rid of the acquaintance. Those types can really wear on you and you certainly don't need that!

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  3. I think you made the right decision in severing the connection, how hard it might be. I had a friend like that once, she only took and took and took.

    Yes, I often feel lonely when being in a group (of family). My solution? Grab my book and start reading.

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  4. I call them toxic friends and I've gotten rid of plenty.

    When I find myself lonely in a crowded room, I leave and find something that will make me feel so not alone, like grabbing a good book.

    It's also one of the reasons I love reading blogs and being on social media, I don't feel so lonely.

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  5. Back when I was younger and a newbie at book conferences, I used to think I needed to do the whole "get out and know all the people" thing. I would stay up late in the bar and try to break into well-established groups of writer friends -- all that did was make me feel lonely and like an outsider. When I mentioned this to Libby Fischer Hellmann, she said, "Why do you want to be a part of their group? We have our own group!" Made me realize that even at a place where you think it's about "schmoozing," it's still a place where the important thing is to cherish and grow those relationships that you already have, that you may take for granted. Since I concentrate on that at conferences now, I have a much better time -- and I have more energy for getting to know new people if I don't try to force it!

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  6. Judy, I was the same way at my first few conferences. I guess it's something that must be learned.
    Toxic friends -- good term! They poison your life slowly and insidiously. I hate hurting peoples' feelings, so getting rid of them is really hard for me, but boy, do I feel better afterward.

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  7. When my first husband left I felt incredibly lonely.I felt lost . I gradually spent time with people who were upbeat and that helped me feel upbeat too. Although it can be sometimes better to be around people who feel the same feelings you are feeling it is okay to do that for a while ,not too long otherwise it can keep you feeling low and you can forget what happiness feels like.

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  8. Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands and grandmother of Beatrix, the present queen, was only ten when she inherited the throne. A queen who still played with dolls. She was officially crowned when she became eighteen. No real childhood, and such responsibilities, guiding her country through two World Wars. In her later years, she wrote her autobiography: Eenzaam Maar Niet Alleen, Lonely but Not Alone. A brilliant title, and it speaks volumes ...

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  9. Removing a toxic person from your life is always a healthy choice. And yes, I have been lonely within a marriage, and I hate to admit I was too much of a coward to be the one to end it....but I am better now. Thanks for choosing this topic Kate, it is a good reminder of many things.,

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  10. But you're out of that lonely marriage and that's what counts.

    JJM, I will have to look up that book. It sounds fascinating. I can only imagine how lonely that little girl must have felt. What a burden.

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  11. I keep busy with outside activities so I get social contact. I live with a grandson but we have very little interaction - he stays in his room on his computer or playing games online. My daughter lives close to me so I have family contact when I need or want it as well as good friends but I value my alone time, too.

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  12. I'm one of those people that feels uncomfortable in a crowd of strangers. And, at times, I need to get away from people to "recharge" my own internal batteries. But the most important person to me is my husband of 38+years, if he's anywhere in the house, I'm fine, but if he's out of town, even for a few hours, no one else's company can take his place.
    If I'm in a crowd of strangers, I only need to see him and I know that I'm fine. I could be in a gang of my friends and if he's not there, I am lonely in the crowd. Some people aren't luck enough to have that special person. Thankfully, I am.

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  13. Being lonely in a crowd was normal for me, because I am deaf. But it's not like that anymore, because I finally got comfortable in my own skin. It took a lot of self-examination to get to that point, though! And a long, long time.

    Toxic friends--and family--have a horrible effect on the rest of our lives. I have experienced the lonely marriage, but glad to say the current one is so much better! It takes a lot of courage to move out of those bad relationships, but afterwards life just seems to open up and let more good in :)

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  14. When my college boyfriend died of cancer, I felt totally lonely on the ground of the college campus I was at. People all around, but nobody I felt could relate to what I was going through. Fortunately, I had my family and my friends to help me through it, but ultimately, I think I just mainly had to accept that it was a terrible state I was in, but I had to keep moving forward, bit by bit. Later on in my life, I did live alone, and I didn't feel lonely living alone. I have come to realize my "alone" time is actually a necessity for me.

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  15. I second what Dru said. Get rid of toxic people in your life. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it helps to know that it is OK.

    Books or the computer are my escape when lonely. As is my hobby of quilting and stitching, accompanied by some good 'ol rock 'n roll!!!

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  16. When I went to a convention in New York City, I only knew very few people. My talking to some of them, we became friends. Sometimes listening to conversations and finding something in common with those around you makes you feel less lonely even in a crowd.

    At home, when I get lonely, I either read a good book - now it is probably a cozy or pet one of my cats.

    One winter, I took my late poodle to a Nursing Home and asked the nurses who might like a visitor and I felt less isolated and hopefully so did they.

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