Can you chase loneliness away? Is it wrong to try? If I’m at home in the evening, whether by myself or with the children, I usually cry for some portion of the evening. I feel less sad if I’m out of the house. I told Dr. F recently that I felt fine as long as I didn’t go home. She gave me a long searching look when I said that.
I understood why; therapists want you to feel your feelings, not run away from them. But what if it’s not a feeling, per se; what if it is simply a condition? I was lonely when I was married and now I’m lonely living alone; maybe I was mistaken that my loneliness was situational; maybe I’m just a lonely creature; perhaps we all are.
I was reminded tonight, of a text exchange with a man I went out with, just once, not so long ago. He was a kind, gentle person. He also had two children. He was also separated from his former partner. We liked each other well enough but perhaps not quite well enough. A few days after our date I texted him to ask how his weekend had been; he answered lightly (seeing Star Wars, of course!) and enquired politely in return how mine was. For some reason I admitted that I’d spent most of it alone, and that I was lonely. What do you say when a relative stranger confesses that? I thought he’d say something banal like, “it gets better with time.” Instead what he texted back to me was, “I understand the loneliness. It never really seems to leave.”
Both his candor and his phrasing moved me. People leave; and people are left; but loneliness “never really seems to leave.” Do we, the lonely, take strange comfort in that? Is that, in fact, why it sticks around? Like a vampire, once you’ve invited it in, does loneliness stay for good? Or, no, this is a much better comparison, does loneliness stay for good like bleeding Samuel Taylor Coleridge? That rascal, he wrote in April 1816 that he was going to pass “a month at Highgate” at James Gillman’s house in order to convalesce from his laudanum addiction. And then he stayed for eighteen bloody years! Just lolling around on the sofa and dictating the Table Talk to his bleeding amanuensis! Eighteen bloody years. Until he died. He was just the worst.
All right, now I don’t remember where I was going with that, but I feel much better.