adjective, lone·li·er, lone·li·est.Dictionary.com
affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.:a lonely exile.
lone; solitary; without company; companionless.
remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak:a lonely road.
standing apart; isolated:a lonely tower.
How is that we have so much here, yet the United States is one of the loneliest countries in the world? One study I read said that fifty percent of our country feels lonely, and another study said seventy two percent of us feel that way.
How is that possible?
I do have a theory however. Have you watched the movie City of Gods? The movie was released in 2002 and its about what happened in Rio de Janeiro in the 1970’s. It details the drug violence that occurred in that city. The movie was filmed in the poorest neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro.
I typically do not watch horror movies, scary movies, violent movies or movies that involve rape or torture. Yep, boring in the movie department. But when my boyfriend recommended I watch it, I trusted him. And I’m glad I did. The movie was very very well done. Yes it’s gory, yes it’s violent, but it also opened my eyes to another world.
My theory is this, those residents of Rio de Janeiro didn’t have time to be lonely, they didn’t have time to be depressed, they only had time to live life. To work, to celebrate with family and to stay alive.
Before anyone gets offended, mental illness and PTSD does not factor into my theory. And what that town went through in the movie probably caused some mental issues later in life…maybe.
What I’m trying to say is that isn’t it possible that life in America for most american’s has become too easy? Most of us have food, water, housing, vehicles, cell phones, televisions…what the hell do we really have to worry about?
And yes, I know there are area’s of this great nation that have homeless and extremely poor neighborhoods, but are those populations lonely? Or is it just us that live comfortably, not having enough to do. Worrying about things that we have only created in our heads?
I know I’m guilty of it. I am very fortunate for my life. Yes, I’ve had a life which has had it’s share of trauma in it. I have PTSD due to some of the things my eyes have seen, or that I have been a party too. I sometimes struggle with it, and the storm that is created in my damaged brain because of it sometimes gets way too crazy.
Loneliness though is something I have always had bouts of, even before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have lots of family and friends just a phone call away (love you all), it doesn’t mean that my lonely brain will allow anyone to come to my rescue.
So what’s the solution?
I believe we need more in person interactions. I saw a video on Facebook yesterday where an older gentlemen in England started conversations with people sitting on couches in the middle of a mall. It was amazing to see how happy that made people; they were laughing, talking…connecting.
What else can help??
Actually engage with the people in your house instead of on your phones while sitting next to a loved one on the same couch. Have game nights, eat together. My roommates and I make sure to hang out at least once a month. I sometimes isolate myself in my bedroom but hearing my roommates laughing in the kitchen motivates me to engage more with them.
At restaurants I constantly see a whole table of people who have cell phones in their hands, not paying attention to the people right next to them. I’m not perfect with this, but I do try to be conscience about it by remembering to put my phone on silent and away in my purse while at dinner with family or friends.
Tree therapy. Take a friend and your dog and head to the woods! Connecting to nature is so damn therapeutic. Hug a tree, even kiss a tree, just not like Mary Katherine Gallagher. Superstar!
Take your dog to a pet friendly store. I have taken Parley to Home Depot about 10 times since I’ve had him and have taken him to other dog friendly stores as well. And guess what? People talk to me, strangers even. I wasn’t on my phone, I was looking for supplies for my camper, and fully engaged with those that asked to pet Parley. Then conversations ensued. People opened up about pets they have lost, or have rescued. I have also asked people for advice on items. I needed to buy some caulking for the camper, so I asked an older gentleman in the same aisle what his advice was on the different kinds of caulking and which one I should get. He smiled and gave me his advice. It was nice.
Find your tribe. I belong to four volunteer organizations; Ground Search and Rescue, ORV Search and Rescue, CERT and the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team. Attending any of these groups business meetings, training or casual get together’s is helpful keeping the loneliness at bay. I am also going to attend a meeting this week for mothers who have children in the military. This is something that causes me some loneliness, I miss my son. My mom and I are both going to go check this group out, so we can talk to people who are in the same ‘military boat’ as we are.
Cry it out. Although I’m not a big cry’er, my trauma therapist told me it’s a natural healthy thing to do. I cry in the shower, this way no one can see or hear me, and the water washes those tears away, down the drain. If you find it difficult to cry, just go to YouTube and watch videos of people who rescue animals or military men and women surprising their kids by coming home or watch videos of children who desperately want to be adopted. And if that doesn’t work, watch the movie called “The Notebook”. If any of that doesn’t get your eyes watering, then you may not be human.
Find something that makes you happy. I love to write…always have. I have a journal that I try to write in every day, and I have this blog. That makes me happy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, be active, don’t isolate. It is ok to feel shitty for a short time, but don’t sit and stew in it (as my grandma would say). And if you just can’t seem to pull yourself out of these feelings, reach out to a therapist or a friend. Ask for help. Watch your loved ones, and if you see them isolate, talk to them. Be empathetic. Remember that you are not alone.
What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.Kurt Vonnegut