What are the Roots of Loneliness?

Roots of loneliness
It is hard to be able to admit that one is lonely. Unless one has recently been divorced or just moved to a new place, there are no sensible explanations for why someone would find themselves without enough friends.

The supposition quickly forms that a person’s loneliness must be explained by something abnormal and troubling within their character. If they are lonely, it is because there are things in their nature that merit for them to be left alone.

Yet in reality, what makes someone feel lonely isn’t usually that they have no one they can be with, but they don’t know a sufficient number of people who could understand  the more sincere and strange parts of themselves.

A warm body with whom to have a meal isn’t hard to find; there is always someone with whom one might discuss mystical matters.

But true loneliness doesn’t end the moment one is chatting with someone, it ends when a companion is able to follow us closely and honestly in the revelation of the intimate ailments and vulnerabilities of being human.

We stop feeling lonely when, at last, someone is there to accept with frankness how puzzling sex remains, how frightening death is, how much envy one feels, how many supposedly small things spark anxiety, how much one sometimes hates oneself, how tearful one can be, how much regret one has, how self-conscious one feels, how complex one’s relationship to one’s parents is, how much misery one harbours, how much unexplored potential one has, how odd one is about different parts of one’s body and how emotionally immature one remains.

It’s the capacity to be honest about these potentially embarrassing and less explored sides of human nature that connects us to others and finally brings our loneliness to an end.

It’s said that we have built a lonely modern world. If this is so, it has nothing to do with our hectic working schedules or massive cities.

It has to do with the lie that we tell ourselves about what we’re like. We trade in brutally simplified distortion, which leave out so much of our real natures -so much of the pain, confusion, wildness, and extremity.

We’re lonely because we can’t easily admit to other people what we know is true in ourselves and see no evidence for our abnormality in public discourse.

We tell stories about what we’ve been up to lately or how we feel at the moment that capture almost nothing of the truth of who we are, not because we are liars, but because we are ashamed of the gap between what we sense in ourselves and what is generally spoken of.

We are lonely because we have collectively been unable to accept that we are delightfully, strange, and unhinged people who lose little by confessing as much to those we meet.

We’re encouraged to present a cheerful (although fake), one-dimensional face in which everything awkward but essential has been eroded out.

Without a hold on our true-selves and energy to divulge our core, we have no chance of ever genuinely ‘meeting’ anyone else however many so-called friends we might lay claim to.

A first step towards eliminating loneliness would be to encourage ourselves to investigate our own self with greater depth and then reassure us that our discoveries will have analogies with those of other people, even if they are keeping quiet about what these might be.

We should be prompted to open the more secret doors of our minds and step into the sad, angry, envious, or self-hating rooms turn on the lights and examine the contents without denial, shame, or guilt.

When we are then next with someone else, we should risk peel off the usual superficial perfectionist expectations and comparing our mutual eccentricity and fear.

The heightened loneliness of some melancholy souls can be explained because they are unusually closely in touch with the less public, more candid parts of themselves.

They are dissatisfied with their relationships with people around them because they have made friends with so many of the lesser known rooms in their own minds.

They haven’t shy away from uncomfortable and surprising ideas and feelings and hunger to discuss these in unfiltered dialogue with equally forthright others.  

We are lonely because we have collectively been unable to accept that we are delightfully, strange, and unhinged people who lose little by confessing as much to those we meet.

We should allow ourselves to reveal more of who we really are to those with the imagination and sense of adventure to listen, and to bring their own strangeness to the table in turn.

Friendship begins when our unwarranted shame can finally be dismissed.

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