Loneliness Redux

Loneliness Redux

It was John Donne who wrote in 1624, “No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe”. Can’t say I disagree with this – the more I build protective walls around me, insulating myself from the world at large, the more lonely I feel. Humans are social animals and merely going through the motions, only interacting superficially, does not involve any connexion with others. I find I need some contact but I’m shut away.

The keep stands fast, ringed by its moat,
Secure, yet isolated.
Defending me from close approach;
Connexions subjugated.

All who try to find a portal,
Some water-gate unguarded,
Can only beat against stone walls
With which my self’s surrounded.

Fear builds these walls, fear of getting hurt, fear of censure or ridicule. These fears seem to feed on depression, growing stronger until they overwhelm me, forcing me to withdraw and take refuge behind the reinforced barriers of my mental “panic room”.

The trouble is that once those doors are closed, once the shutters come down, there is a coldness as my links to those around me are severed. Feelings are dulled and remote, like outside sounds heard through a closed door. In here I am safe from danger but also disconnected from positive influence – a dilemma.

Perfect isolation
Brings a deathlike stillness.
Colorless desert; expanse
Of infinite emptiness.

How to resolve this? It is paradoxical that in my loneliness I feel a need to be alone, to get away and be by myself for a while. To regain my balance, rebuild my strength and, hopefully, recover my happiness. Because at the moment I am down. Have been for some days or weeks now – not quite sure how long.

The blighted trees were once so green
But now stand gray and twisted.
My woodland haven, tranquil scene,
Destroyed, demolished, blasted.

I feel exhausted. There are reasons – I know what they are but not how to resolve them.

Solitary inmate; my prison
Is of my own making, no less
Secure for that. I hold no keys
That will unlock these cold steel bars.

Outside my cell the corridors
Are silent, no guards to patrol.
My small cell lost in this fastness.
I cry out; echoes fade to naught.

Trying to find some inner peace is difficult right now. I try to recall times of happiness and comfort such as walks in the countryside, views across lakes to distant hills and forests – but instead I find I am transported to exposed rocky slopes with the cold wind howling around me as the rain lashes down and thunder rumbles ominously in the distance. I am a long way from shelter and the day is rapidly drawing to an end to leave me on my own in the stormy night.

Trudging endlessly through the long night, the search for a place to rest seems a Sisyphean task. But I cling to the hope that the storm will abate, a new day will dawn and I will at last find a place to lay my head. To cast off my weariness and return to the light.

Let’s Talk About Me

Let’s Talk About Me

Writing can only achieve so much. There are times when I feel I am holding in so many silent thoughts, so much unexpressed emotion that I get mentally exhausted. It’s difficult – if not impossible – to let go, to let it out. Like a locked door to which I do not possess the key. The pressure builds up behind the barriers and the strain makes me fractious.

Mental tension leads to physical tension, that characteristic tightening across the shoulders causing muscular discomfort, aches and pains. How can I relieve this stress? Get things off my mind?

It doesn’t help that I subconsciously avoid analyzing the causes of my feelings. As if afraid to confront them head-on I avoid letting my inner eye gaze long upon them. Must avoid eye contact, even in here. So these nebulous concerns accumulate while I refuse to reify them, to give them substance, because that would require that I acknowledge their presence and admit that I cannot handle them.

But admit to whom? To speak of such things to another would need such a degree of candor – such openness – that I would feel too exposed and vulnerable, succumbing in that instant to overwhelming fear, and hastily slam the shutters closed.

To what kind of person could I reveal the detailed depths of my inner turmoil? Whom could I trust implicitly to keep the secrets of my soul safe from the sight of others? It’s a puzzle, to be sure – I would have to know somebody well to feel comfortable enough to consider opening up, but having done so I could not subsequently feel comfortable around them. It would be as if I were laid bare. So I end up believing that exploiting such a level of trust would destroy it.

The end result is that I continue to accumulate the hurt and pain, trying to keep it locked away from my day-to-day thoughts. Trying to appear carefree, chasing distractions and amusements that will occupy my mind for a while and give me some respite. Until the darkness returns, as it inevitably will, since I cannot open my mind’s doors and let in the light. I am simply not able to talk about me.

Loneliness vs Solitude

Loneliness vs Solitude

Sometimes I feel lonely – I get the need for company. Other times I find other people hard to handle and need some time alone. This time of year – the holiday season – is making me unusually aware of this.

It has been a strange few days. I’ve spent a lot of time amongst friends, enjoying myself, and yet felt the need to take a break every now and again to be alone. I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed and needing just five or ten minutes of peace to recover. I don’t generally explain or even describe how I’m feeling – I just walk away for a spell, and come back afterwards feeling calmer and more at ease.

And now, in the small hours of the morning, I am sat at home. My wife is asleep in bed. For some reason I feel alone, even though I know she is only a few yards away – I can even hear her snoring gently. The feeling’s like an emptiness inside, different from sadness in that there is no pain. It’s almost an absence of feeling.

I want to share with somebody what the past few days have been like. The dislocation caused by a week’s forced vacation as work shut down for the holidays. The exhilaration of working the bar during a record-breaking day. The physical tiredness from successive late nights. The comfort I felt holding my wife on the dance-floor. Other events, other feelings, good and bad.

Writing this, sharing it here, has helped me. I have regained my balance, and now I shall retire to bed at ease.