Understanding Loneliness  

waggypolly 72F
7449 posts
12/17/2005 4:20 am

Last Read:
8/5/2006 9:23 am

Understanding Loneliness

I live alone, in a large and comfortable flat: I am very fortunate. Late every afternoon I leave work. Often I caste around for something to do, somewhere to go, before arriving home. I may choose a workout at the gym, a walk on the beach, or laps at the Olympic pool. Less often it is a shopping trip, a visit to a book or DVD shop, or half an hour in a cafĂ©. I normally do it alone. Some days I visit the 86-year old Asian lady, who lives next door and has nothing left to do except wait for death. Even so when I arrive inside my flat I am gripped with incredible loneliness and I often fall into the temptation of imagining this is because I lack a “significant other” to dispense welcoming hugs and provoke me into sharing a sensuous evening at home.

Today I went straight from work to the beach. I admired the waves; I noticed that (being Saturday) it wasn’t deserted as it normally is. I lay on the sand and did sit ups, pleased to find that my abs are gaining strength. Then I came home to . . . nothing.

I recalled other times in my life when I might have been lonely at the end of the day . . . but wasn’t. I recalled two special scenarios.

The first was when I was living in a Buddhist community deep in the Australian bush. At 6.0pm all the community members gathered in the meditation hall for an hour’s silent sitting (as we had also done for an hour before breakfast). We followed that with a casual supper of midday leftovers eaten standing around the kitchen table. We each lived in a solitary hut in the forest and went our separate ways immediately after the meal. I never, ever, felt lonely living there despite the many hours spent on my own in silence.

The second memory comes from before that, while my kids were growing up and we lived in the metropolitan region. One evening I walked towards our house in the twilight and I suddenly got this warm glow within me. Why?

I imagined the scene that I would discover inside. In the livingroom, an early episode of (that never to cease production) soap opera, Neighbours, would be playing. On the floor my 9 year-old daughter would be helping her classmate Maria - who lived next door and wasn’t too good in English - with their homework. Maria’s little brother, Luigi, would be watching them with admiration. My 11 year-old son would be sitting on the sofa with one of his school mates, four eyes glued to the TV. Hovering in the background, with their eyes also on Neighbours, but pretending not to be interested, would be my undergraduate lodger and his girlfriend: both first year medical students. As soon as the show finished they would be locked into his bedroom and locked into a special embrace.

I realised that I was experienceing this warm feeling for the first time in my life even though I was already over 40. I suddenly understood what the phrase “happy families” meant. I shed some tears for the frozen years of my childhood and the unhappy years of my marriage. I went inside, into a totally untidy house and saw faces ‒ seven faces smiling up at me ‒ and I knew what a happy homecoming was.

Tonight I realised that, while sex is a wonderful thing, my loneliness is not about sexual frustration. It is about a sense of domestic community.

This is Polly, still Wagging
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Viggo57 60M

12/17/2005 7:48 am

Polly, you are a wise, insightful and a very beautiful woman...thank you for being reflective and sharing your understanding. Your thoughts appeared at a good time. When I read this post, it was as if we were together, in the same room, sharing meaning and experiences.
If time ever appears for you, and you feel like beginning a new mail relationship , I know a man in a colder part of the world who would like know more about you.
Keep writing, Polly!!

rm_anacortes 74M
2850 posts
12/17/2005 10:51 am

Dear Polly,

You can call it whatevery you want...

The word "connection" seems to cover it though...


horny4770 60M
8158 posts
12/17/2005 10:52 am

Dearest Polly,

You've conjured up memories of me coming back after a day’s work to a place cluttered with a disarray of kid’s things, endless noise and the smell of food cooking. A time when these walls contained that ‘happy family’; when this house was a home. Was it only yesterday or a lifetime ago?

interested13563 53M
2557 posts
12/17/2005 12:08 pm

It is so interesting that you bring this up.
So often this feeling of loneliness can happen
even in the company of others, of people who
are "close to you", especially when that
warm glow in their eyes is missing. I know
so well what you mean and could not have
described it better than you have.

rm_FreeLove999 46F
16127 posts
12/17/2005 10:20 pm

>>>>>waggy<<<<< I have alone lived alone for one year of my life, when I was at university and then brief spells when house of flatmates went away for work or holidays. The rest of the time I have always lived with other people. Even tho I have often felt the loneliness in a crowd, or loneliness with others that interested describes, I know this is nothing as bad as coming home to an empty place all the time. Therefore, I don't really know what to say about the subject, except that I hope some of us go some way to alleviating your loneliness, because you have alleviated some of mine

[blog freelove999]

Henri2charles 62M
14 posts
12/18/2005 8:10 am

Each of us has experienced loneliness
When we are removed from those we love most
When those we love most don’t share our emotion

Your comment on “connected-ness” is, I believe, the most salient.
We humans are creatures that crave, no require, a sense of connectedness.
But isn’t the real issue how we respond/?
Sometimes nobly and sometimes in more desperate ways

One of my favorite poems ‒ perhaps the less noble response.

Being apart and lonely is like rain.
It climbs toward evening from the ocean plains;
from flat places, rolling and remote, it climbs
to heaven, which is its old abode.
And only when leaving heaven drops upon the city.

It rains down on us in those twittering
hours when the streets turn their faces to the dawn,
and when two bodies who have found nothing,
dissapointed and depressed, roll over;
and when two people who despise eachother
have to sleep together in one bed-

that is when loneliness receives the rivers...

(by Rainer Maria Rilke)


Henri2charles 62M
14 posts
12/19/2005 9:17 am


You asked, "Don't you think loneliness is different when there are two bodies apart than when there is nobody to be apart from?

Definitely. This is the “issue” that was stuck in my head ever since reading your post.

The quotation (poem) I inserted deals with the “two bodies apart” version (I think) more than it does the “nobody” aspect. But one of the reasons I particularly like that poem is that the two seem to be branches of the same river.

There is a loneliness I feel when I am separated ‒ by distance (my son/daughter is too far away), change of heart (my lover rejected me) or death (my parents are gone).

That feeling isn’t the same, for me at least, as when I ask why I can’t find that “special person”.

Or, perhaps, it’s just cynicism taking over ‒ i.e. there just isn’t THE person for me. I hope that isn’t the case (both my cynicism and my “person” not being there).

However, I have also experienced the type of pleasure that comes only with “coupling up” with a person that is a complement ‒ a foil, a counterpart, a booster, a critic. .

So what is one to do?

keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
12/19/2005 7:33 pm

Awesome essay polly!


rm_bob6969Aloha 69M
129 posts
12/22/2005 10:19 am

Aloha Polly, These feelings of loneliness and loss of connection often grow stronger this time of the year. Keeping the fond memories of Family and friends comming to life thru your blogs and sharing with us , Your not alone and know that you are Loved very much. Mele Kalikimaka, Bob

redswallow777 48M
6810 posts
12/22/2005 3:34 pm

I have often had the desire to go on retreat from the world....from my mate for a couple weeks...perhaps a month....just to feel what it is like to be alone for a long while. I think part of my desire to do that, is that I often don't recognize my loneliness and I end up trying to medicate it with food or sex or whatever. I would just like to face loneliness head on for once and learn to be alone with myself.

How long did you live in the Buddhist community? Would love to hear more about that sometime.

A very thoughtful post....may your choice to spend your holiday away turn into a grand adventure....and rest assured some of us will await your return...with smiling faces.

rm_bob6969Aloha 69M
129 posts
12/22/2005 10:22 pm

Mele Kalikimaka, is Hawaiian for Merry Christmas and Hauoli Maka Hiki Hou, is Hawaiian for Happy New Year and I wish both of those to you and hope you realy enjoy your time off and know that all your friends are thinking of you and wishing you the Best! Bob

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