I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I hope this post will touch your heart.
One of my favorite bands is Muse, but their song “Aftermath” has never sat well with me, and in this time of social distancing and uncertainty, it feels like a good time to breakdown with you the issues I have with it (and other things – love, loneliness, and the spaces between us).
My Issues with Love
The chorus of “Aftermath” croons:
From this moment
You will never be alone
We’re bound together
Now and forever
The loneliness has gone
It sounds lovely, but the first time I heard it, I almost sprained my eyes from rolling them so hard.
Here’s why: loneliness is not the absence of people; loneliness is the inability to communicate what is important to you.
Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. – Carl Gustav Yung
I believe this quote with all my heart. I might be a “restrained” introvert, but I understand this so deeply.
Love is not going to necessarily take your loneliness away. Henry Nilsson (who wrote the catchy “Gotta Get Up” piece featured in Netflix’s Russian Dolls), wrote “One” – though covers of this have been more famous than his original:
One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
“No” is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Right now, many of us are lonely– we are unable to express what is important to us to others whether that’s because we’re deprived of face-to-face interactions, we don’t have supportive relations, or we can’t find the words to say. Some of us are going through rough patches in love, and the strain of tight spaces and/or money and upended routines makes for strains in love (whether romantic or familial).
It has been shown that voice is more effective than text at relieving loneliness.
Maybe you need to talk to someone (or maybe they need to talk to you).
My Issues with Loneliness
A while back, my sister and I were discussing MBTI traits and our most toxic traits. Mine is “too private”. I completely get this. I can have a lovely conversation with you for hours, while not having actually shared anything about myself – not having communicated anything important to me. And to be frank, if you don’t reciprocate in asking questions, then I won’t offer much information and will basically be interviewing you.
My husband and I have had strangers share deeply personal stories with us out of nowhere, and pondered later why things played out like they did. He’s said I’m like the monkey with cymbals from Wonderfalls- the answer to why they open up to me is, “because you listen”.
I struggle with loneliness even when there are people around. I’m introverted (I find people draining), and I’m shy (I fear judgment). The “from holding certain views which others find inadmissible” is my problem. My political and religious views are not tolerated in the area where I live.
When it comes down to it, isolation is a form of torture and punishment: solitary confinement.
The Spaces Between Us
I’ve seen this meme around, and it’s only partially accurate. My first thought was that … I wonder if extroverts will understand that I feel like the first image when I’m at a networking event. My second thought was that … suicides are on the uptick.
Since the library is closed, the county health department has reallocated some of us to field non-emergency calls in the community. During our training, it was mentioned that there has been an increase in suicide with people being alone, hopeless, maybe laid off.
I fear as this crisis drags on, more and more people will feel drowned by these circumstances.
-> If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, please reach out to: Suicide Prevention Hotline.
-> If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to anonymously, please consider 7 Cups, or other free, anonymous peer support groups.
Kindness is more important now than ever. The next few weeks, I suspect, will tax the essential workers of our world in ways we might not expect, and perhaps for longer. The next few weeks will tax those of us stuck at home as well.
For those of you struggling in loneliness, please know your sacrifice is appreciated.
Please take care of yourself – open the blinds or curtains to get some sunshine if you can, call a friend, write an email, take a bubble bath, Skype dinner with someone, whatever it takes.
Let’s stop thinking of this as social distancing: it’s physical distancing. Please keep reaching out to others.
As an introvert living with my spouse and child, it’s not been as hard for me as this pandemic is for others. Because of that, I’ve been making a conscious effort to reach out to those around me, especially if they seem like they might be struggling. I hope you’ll do the same.